Goodbye to the Perfect Personal Brand

Posted by & filed under Blog, Leading With Gravitas.

Do you care what people think, really? I dare say that most of us do to some extent, but problems arise when other peoples’ potential opinions about us negatively impact our self-esteem and actions. This can be as basic as not wearing a brightly coloured dress or shirt for fear of attracting the wrong kind of attention, or not speaking up in meetings in case someone judges us.

A recent article in The Pool by Viv Groskop really bought home to me the corrosive effect of caring too much what others think, to the extent that we start trolling ourselves.

This level of self-censorship and self-limiting thinking is massively amplified through the over-controlled lens of social media, where many present over-curated, perfect lifestyles which can be exhausting to maintain. But I’m noticing a backlash to this, with artists like Anne Marie singing about how not being perfect is ‘perfect to me’.

Bottom line is, it’s important to remember that we cannot control what other people think and the judgements they make, we can only control our own thoughts and actions. And even if they do make judgements about us, how will we ever know? And why should we care?

Leaders need to walk a fine line between listening to people’s thoughts, experiences and feelings and detaching themselves emotionally so that they can do what they believe is right, even though it won’t go down well with everyone. The more senior you get, the more you need to prioritise being respected over being liked; you can’t please all the people all the time.

However, rather than leave the whole process to chance, it makes sense to consider what do you want other people to think about you? And how can you control that? Like it or not, we each have a personal brand and it is up to us to ensure that the way people experience it is consistent with how we want to be seen.

The term ‘brand’ was coined by marketers in the late 20th century to acknowledge that there was more to the perception of products and services than their names – something that David Ogilvy described as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” Marketers soon realised that they could create a perception in customers’ minds about the qualities and attributes of a product or service which would positively differentiate that product from others and therefore make it more desirable.

When it comes to personal branding, your brand encapsulates your reputation. It represents who you are, what you’re known for and how people experience you. Creating an authentic ‘brand you’ is about bringing more of what makes you you into what you do and how you do it.

In my branding masterclasses I use the analogy of a diamond to describe your brand. In the same way as an un-mined, un-cut and un-polished diamond is just a black rock, unless you take the time to identify your unique strengths and find ways for them to shine, you could be minimising your potential.

Just like a diamond, a brand is multi-layered and multi-faceted. To uncover your unique brand, the first step is to achieve clarity on what that brand stands for on a variety of levels. The next step is working out which facet you would like to reveal to suit the different contexts you’re in.

Delivering your brand clearly and consistently will create a memorable experience in the minds of those you interact with – your audiences – and open up new opportunities for you to deliver results, over-riding unhelpful thoughts about what other people think.

For more information on my programmes and masterclasses, click here.

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