Most Free Agents "get" that living and breathing their brand is paramount to their success. This article has great advice for "traditional" employees; especially those who don't believe they have a vested interest in the long-term success of the companies they work for.
Be Distinct or Be Extinct
You have a brand, the question is this: is it a positive brand; one that draws prospects and customers to you? Or is it a negative brand: one that repels your customers?
That Brands create value, loyalty, and profound emotional experiences for customers is well understood. What is less appreciated is that the employee relationship to his employer and brand has changed.
Successful brand building is no longer just about the company’s brand. It’s about your personal brand and how you use your own distinction to deliver the brand promise of your organization. Developing your individual brand is an essential strategy in the new world of work.
In today’s organizations, a heated search is on for new ideas and new ways to work in the new economy. It’s about survival of the fittest. It’s about maintaining a competitive edge amidst chaos. It’s about achieving success when the stakes are ever higher and ever changing. Organizations and individuals must do nothing less than reinvent work to survive in the 21st century, and personal branding is a big part of that equation.
Brands are among the most strategic assets of any organization. They have tangible, financial value. And as Michael Goldhaber recently said in Wired magazine: “If there is nothing very special about your work, no matter how hard you apply yourself, you won’t get noticed and that increasingly means you wont get paid very much either.”
Tom Peters puts it this way: “Be distinct, or extinct.” The authentic exploration of that which you care about most can help increase inspired performance for you and others. When we are encouraged to find what motivates and moves us, we can navigate and perform in truly inspired ways.
What are you known for? Are you a Michael, Oprah, or Martha? In the face of Intranets, Knowledge Capital Management Schemes, The Web, Globalization, and Global Deregulation, do you have the distinction to survive the corporate chopping block? Or, even better, do you have what it takes to quickly land an even better opportunity if your current job is eliminated? If not, developing your brand is a high stakes deal.
Here are five suggestions based on the Tom Peters book The BrandYou50 to help you be distinct:
1. Ask yourself: What do I want to be known for? What do I want to stand for? Does MY work matter? Am I making a difference? Personal brands help you survive when the yogurt is hitting the white-collar revolution fan. They also create opportunities.
2. Perform a Personal Brand Equity Inventory: Ask ten coworkers, family members and friends to write four words or descriptive phrases that best describe you. Look at the responses and ask yourself, “Is this what I want to be known for? How can I develop my own distinctive brand?
3. “Inc.” Yourself: Fast Company magazine calls it Free Agent Nation and a Unit of One. Begin by viewing yourself as an independent contractor who gets hired for doing work worth paying for. Every moment and every micro event has a message. It adds or detracts from your brand image. Become your own public relations firm, and talk about the value you offer.
4. Develop Competence: You have got to be noticeably good at s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g. Your skill package must be stunning and of significant value. How are you different in valuable and compelling ways? Not Michael Jordan different, but on your way to achieving some noticeable distinction. Be very precise.
5. Develop a ONE–EIGHTH Page Yellow Page Ad for YOUR Personal Brand: Imagine people are shopping for your service. What can you offer them that is summarized succinctly and with flair that no one else can offer?
The white-collar revolution requires a new way of looking at our work and our worth at work. Now more than ever, a deeper dialogue about survival in the work world is required. Welcome to Free Agent Nation.
Learn more about the author, Hugh Blane.
Comment on this article
Posted by Alyson Sharron, Seattle, Washington |
Jul 16, 2008
Posted by Pamela Ziemann, Bellevue, Washington |
Jul 16, 2008
Clarity is such a beautiful thing. Thanks for sharing your article Hugh. Being able to tell your unique story in a compelling way is vital as well. Most of us are used to talking from the neck up, we've got to see our entire body as our brand, how we walk, talk. Wow, we're coming alive!
Posted by Andrea Driessen, Seattle, Washington |
Jul 18, 2008
In a world of sameness, branding is how we become that found needle in a haystack. The questions that Hugh poses are critical at arriving at that deep level of brand clarity. Thanks Hugh!
Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon |
Jul 19, 2008
Good article. I think branding can even come right down to how a person presents themselves in physical locations, i.e. a sense of fashion in its own way can cause a person's business to stand out. I wear a distinctive hat everywhere, and it's made me easier to recognize and people have started associating it with my business I'm promoting, because it's something which is unusual in the circles I'm networking in. Probably not quite the branding you were thinking of, but being creative can apply right up to what clothes you wear.
Posted by Michael Carpenter, Bellevue, Washington |
Jul 20, 2008
You are right on the mark with your post on branding. Coming from someone who has a very unique bit of branding perhaps I could talk you into looking at my site and tell me what you think.
I would value your opinion or the opinions of the community on Biznik!
Mike the Money Man
(206) 465-5528 - Cell
Posted by Hugh Blane, Seattle, Washington |
Jul 22, 2008
Hi Mike, I'd be happy to look at your site. I'm out of pocket this week but will have time to give you some devoted attention next week. I'll reach out to you then if that works.
Posted by Jessi LaCosta, San Diego, California |
Jul 22, 2008
I am so excited whenever someone covers the importance of branding. There are many ways to promote and manage brand leadership - whether at a company level or as an individual. So much of this stems from aligning the vision and the goals with all forms of communication. Thanks again for the great post!
- behavior style