Medium 9781605098104

Be Your Own Brand

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NEW EDITION, REVISED AND UPDATED

In this second edition of their classic book on personal brand David McNally and Karl Speak show that developing a personal brand is not about constructing a contrived image. Rather, it is a process of discovering who you really are and what you aspire to be. The hallmark insight of this new edition is that the best way to establish a strong and memorable brand is to make a positive difference in the lives of others through making lasting impressions that build trusting relationships.

McNally and Speak take you through the process of identifying the key components of your brand, conveying that brand to the world, checking how closely your brand aligns with important relationships in your life—particularly your employer—and assessing your progress along the way. This thoroughly revised and updated edition features new material on how to use social media to build a powerful personal brand and case studies of individuals whose personal brands have changed the world.

"Squarely delivers where other books have left off by creating a genuine self-understanding and a strong picture of the person you are and want to become to create real sustainable personal change.”

--Stephen Weiss, Former President EDMC Online Higher Education and Former President and COO Capella Education Company

“A strong personal brand is paramount for effective leadership. Be Your Own Brand is a powerful and practical guide for building deep and meaningful relationships.”

--Perry Cantarutti, Senior Vice President, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Delta Air Lines

“Be Your Own Brand, when applied within a business organization, has the power to accelerate the pace of organizational brand development tremendously.”

--Taras K. Rebet, President, West Europe, Otto Bock HealthCare GmbH

“From this book you’ll experience deep introspection and discover your own brand which will surely ignite personal and professional growth.”

--Heather Backstrom, Employee Development Manager, Moog, Inc. – Aircraft Group

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11 Chapters

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Contents

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1 Personal Brand: The Perception That You Made a Difference

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Let’s get straight to the point. Everybody already has a brand. Your personal brand is a perception held in others’ minds, and it has evolved through their interactions with you. Through repeated contacts between you and another person, his or her perception of you sharpens and your brand in that person’s mind becomes clearer. In other words, people are constantly observing who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Having a brand is not the point: more important is the question, How strong is your personal brand? The strength of your personal brand grows or weakens depending upon the consistent impact (positive or negative) you are making on other individuals. Want to be a stronger brand? Make a difference!

Ever get the feeling that people—even people who know you (or should know you) very well—just don’t “get” you?

Ever get the feeling that the relationships in your life—some of them, anyway—are a little out of sync with your ideals and what you really want?

Ever get the feeling that there’s a troubling disconnect—maybe only minor, maybe profound—between your personal life and your professional life?

 

2 A Strong Personal Brand Delivers on Three Important Expectations

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Do the people you know perceive qualities in you that are truly distinctive? Do they believe that you make those qualities relevant to them and their needs? Are they convinced that you will demonstrate those qualities consistently? If you can confidently answer yes to all three of these questions, you can expect to reap the benefits of having a strong brand with those people.

Most of us can answer yes to all three with some people in our lives. But how many? Is your network of strong personal brand relationships large enough to help you achieve what is important to you?

Three key components combine to determine the strength of your brand. These components combined form the third fundamental principle of personal brand. Strong brands are perceived to be:

Distinctive: They stand for something. They have a point of view.

Relevant: What they stand for connects to what someone else considers to be important.

Consistent: People come to believe in a relationship based on the consistency of behaviors they experience or observe.

 

3 Your Personal Brand Is Perceived from Three Different Dimensions

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Earlier in our time together we talked about the importance of creating and managing the perceptions others have of you. Admittedly, the notion of perceptions can be a bit nebulous, and understanding how those perceptions come together to define your personal brand can appear daunting. In this chapter, we will explain a simple and proven model that you can use to master the management of these perceptions.

The role of perceptions is one of the most similar aspects between business and personal brand—it is one of the elements of business brand that has a clear translation to personal brand. Dissatisfied with the complexity so often found in other approaches to understanding brand perceptions, Karl’s company, Brand Tool Box, has invested over $2 million to date in market research to validate a simplified model of brand perceptions that is now helping a growing number of businesses effectively define their brands.

In many ways the translation was straightforward, but in other ways we needed to make modifications to ensure that the business-based version could be used as a model for personal brand. Since the first edition of Be Your Own Brand, the perceptions model of personal brand has proven to be a practical and effective tool.

 

4 Authenticity: The Cornerstone to Building a Strong Brand

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Many books on personal brand have been published since we wrote the first edition of Be Your Own Brand. A primary focus on authenticity continues to be the one outstanding difference between Be Your Own Brand and those that have followed our lead. Authenticity and alignment are two of the most powerful drivers in building a strong personal brand. We know that alignment is the bridge that builds trust in a relationship. Authenticity provides strength to the span that sustains the alignment between two people.

We also know that brands gain their strength from the inside out. Authenticity is a measurement of the strength of one’s character, and authenticity is the backbone or substance upon which a personal brand is built. Keep this in mind as you design your personal brand, which must start with discovering and declaring what you believe to be your purpose, vision, and values. Only by staying true to these can you be truly authentic.

So far, we’ve focused primarily on the external side of what it takes to build a strong personal brand. Now we’re going to turn inside and look at what drives and inspires those people who build strong personal brands.

 

5 Creating Your Brand Platform: Dimensions and Ethos

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You can be any brand you want to be!

Now that we have your attention, let us explain. The possibilities for your brand begin with your values, guided by your purpose, your vision, and your commitment to making a difference for others. Visions and intentions become a reality through well-executed tactical plans. The same is true for building a strong personal brand. You have to develop and manage a plan for your personal brand. At the core of your personal brand plan is your personal brand platform. This chapter will provide you with a pragmatic, simple, and proven framework to define your personal brand platform. After you have defined your platform—steeped in your values—your brand possibilities are unlimited.

A personal brand platform contains three key elements: a set of personal brand dimensions, a personal brand ethos, and a personal brand promise.

Personal Brand Dimensions: the combination of roles, standards, and style that defines the unique aspects of your personal brand. In this chapter, we’re going to show you how to use the model we gave you in chapter 3 to identify and chart the key components of your brand.

 

6 A Promise to Be More of Who You Are

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A personal brand promise statement will be the single most powerful device you will have in your brand-building tool bag. This short yet inspiring statement will provide the focus you need to apply your distinctive qualities toward making a difference for others. For some folks, their brand promise statement is as succinct as “Insight. Wit. Attitude.” Someone else’s brand promise may be more descriptive, like “Steady Eddie, getting things done.” It does not matter what cadence (and perhaps rhyme) you use with your personal brand promise. What counts most is that your statement reflects who you are and how you desire to engage with others.

A personal brand promise is for you—its purpose is to remind you of how you make a difference for others. It is a concise self-expression of how you apply your beliefs and passions for the benefit of others. It has been our experience and observation that when individuals hit the right tone with a brand promise statement, a big smile comes to their face and a real sense of excitement sets in.

 

7 How Strong Is Your Personal Brand Today?

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Once you’ve identified and completed your personal brand platform, an excellent foundation for building a strong personal brand has been established. But that effort will be significantly depleted unless you develop systematic ways to ensure that you are indeed making distinctive, relevant, and consistent connections to the important people in your life; and what you’re delivering is truly valued by the other person in each relationship. That feedback, in turn, can help you further refine your brand platform, focus your actions to make sure you are getting credit for your brand dimensions, and gain confidence in your personal brand.

This brings us to the concept of brand equity. A brand relationship is like a bank account. When something you do strengthens the relationship, you’re effectively making a deposit. When your actions consistently strengthen the relationship, the balance grows—and accrues interest.

Brands are like that. Successful interactions build the expectation that things will go right the next time, too. If they do, brand equity continues to grow. When something goes wrong, however, the equity in the brand account is tapped and reduced. With an account that is well into the black, even major problems can be encountered and survived without destroying the relationship. But if the balance goes into the red, the relationship can be irrevocably broken.

 

8 Aligning to Become a Stronger Brand

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When one strives to find and maintain alignment in a relationship, the potential for a strong brand is almost unlimited. Authenticity, as we discussed in chapter 4, is the core strength—or engine—of a strong personal brand. Alignment, however, is what creates the traction and delivers the power for building a strong personal brand.

Alignment is the process of finding common ground for a mutually beneficial relationship. Alignment, especially with the company you work for, does not mean uniformity or changing your personal brand to act, believe, or look like the company. Alignment is about finding that common ground or congruence with your employer that enables you to be more successful professionally while still being who you are.

The power of alignment is one of the most important lessons we have learned for personal brand building. Alignment creates a much larger world of possibilities for individuals and their relationships. Discovering and creating alignment is not a passive endeavor—it takes energy, curiosity, and a bit of humility. Strong personal brands make the effort to discover and maintain alignment in a changing world.

 

9 Personal Brand Building Has Gone Social

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The power of social media cannot be underestimated as a tool for personal brand building. At the same time, the hype associated with social media should be tempered by how you use these powerful digital tools. Personal brand building with social media tools is like learning to use a chain saw—if you don’t use it wisely, you may cut off the wrong limb. There is no question that these tools have created a whole new world of brand-building possibilities, unmatched in their power.

For those skilled in using social media tools and who are purposeful in their use, the results can be exhilarating. Others find social media to be intoxicating and the impact on their personal brand can be unpredictable and potentially arresting. To be a social media Luddite is a mistake. We are strong advocates of using social media tools for personal brand building.

Let’s be clear: We will not be providing you the ins and outs of how to use specific social media tools. We assume you’re already using these tools.

Interacting in the social media world is one of the tools in your personal brand-building tool bag. As we have discussed earlier in the book, consistency is paramount in building a strong brand. Without a concerted effort, it is easy to inadvertently create inconsistencies in the way one is perceived based on digital interactions and real-world interactions.

 

10 The Courage to Live Your Brand

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The personal brand you create will become a dynamic presence in your life. But to remain strong, it must be renewed every day. It must become a part of everything you do.

On some days, those objectives will be easy to achieve. On other days, you’ll face situations that will challenge your ability to stand by the sense of purpose, vision, and values you’ve chosen to center your life on. You’ll also encounter times when your brand promise will be severely challenged.

At times, your brand building will seem to be on hold—when life tries to lull you into a state of complacency, even apathy. Whether the seas are rough or calm, your brand needs to be strong enough to ride out the waves and keep moving in the direction you’ve chosen.

We want to leave you with one last concept from the brand builder’s dictionary: brand moments. Those are the times when your unique combination of roles, standards, and style will be put to the test—when you’ll have a chance to be found distinctively and consistently relevant to someone else. In those moments, your brand will shine. Or fade.

 

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