We think of ‘a brand’ as something created to distinguish and promote a company or product. Such inventiveness is often helpful, particularly when new business ventures or newly launched products need to achieve widespread recognition in a crowded, highly competitive marketplace. Now your ‘personal brand’ is something a little different… BUT the two are in fact quite closely interrelated. Whatever your role within a company (whether it’s in sales and marketing, operations, engineering or C-level management) the way you are perceived by your industry peers will reflect on the company – either in a positive or (potentially) a negative manner.
As an employee, your personal brand should be who you are allied to and how you wish to be seen.
What details are contained in your LinkedIn profile, the nature of your posts on social media channels, the comments you make in industry forums/groups all contribute to your personal brand. This shouldn’t be invented or manufactured. Nor should it be about seeking to make a name for yourself – as a big ego is often not welcomed in either larger corporations or tightly knit SMEs. What it should be, as much as possible, is aligned to your employer’s corporate branding/messaging. By applying your personal brand with maximum effectiveness, through utilizing your key attributes and interests, you can have a significant influence on the company’s image and how it is perceived within the sector its occupies.
It is all about keeping your identity and objectives in focus, while simultaneously understanding their impact on the organization that pays your wages. A good example of this has recently made it on to celluloid, with the release of the Spielberg film ‘Bridge of Spies’. This is based on real events that took place in East Germany during the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War. James Donovan (portrayed by Tom Hanks), is a patient, non-judgmental, but adept debater, with little time for officialdom, but considerable reverence for playing fair and sticking to the rules. He overcomes his distaste for corrupt self-serving politicians and dogmatic CIA procedures by applying his core skill set, in very difficult circumstances, to derive the best possible outcome, both for his country and for numerous specific individuals. The end titles inform us that he later went on, at the behest of JFK, to have a key role in international negotiations, including the successful repatriation of many US citizens from Cuba, following the revolution.
If you can apply your personal brand in the same way, you may not get medals or films made about your life story, but you could help your employer’s commercial activities. Donovan fits his brand into the bigger picture so that he can serve the greater good. Now these principles could be applied equally well in a business context – in such a way as to benefit the largest number of customers or stakeholders and, ultimately, generate more revenue.
Your personal brand, if carefully and thoughtfully matched to professional goals, can add value to your work place. It can be an integral part of your company’s promotional efforts. Through it your company can not only develop better policies and practices, it can also address new opportunities which will accelerate its growth.