Your Personal Brand
This is similar to putting your identity puzzle together, but from a different perspective. Both the identity puzzle and the personal brand are ways to integrate the many parts of your identity. Just use whichever approach works best for you.
One way to think about your emerging identity as a young adult is to think about your “brand.” You might think, “I’m not a product like Lexus or a service like Google – why do I need to think about my “brand?”
The value of thinking about your brand is primarily to integrate the various elements that combine to create your identity – the picture you have of yourself and the picture others have of you. It’s a summary – and it’s important.
People Naturally Form a Perception of You – Their Perception of Your Brand
People form impressions of other people. It’s impossible not to. So, people form impressions of you. Those impressions are your brand for those people. Some people will know you well and some will not, but impressions will naturally form your brand.
You Have a Brand. Are You in Charge of it?
If you do not build your brand, others will build it for you. And in today’s world the web will build it for you through social media. Today your brand can be heavily influenced by social media, but it’s not just about social media. It’s more about your face to face interactions, your behaviors in general, your attitude, your appearance, who you hang out with, what you accomplish or don’t accomplish, etc.
How Many Brands Do I Have?
Different people will see you differently – at different points in time. Therefore, you will have a different brand for different people. There may be a lot of similarities, but there will be some differences. For example, your parents will see you differently in some ways than your peers.
There are a surprising number of people who will have a perception of you – your brand. Here are 10 examples. You can probably come up with even more.
- College admissions officers
This list is not intended to be intimidating. It’s just interesting how many different types of people will have an impression of you. We don’t just have one personal brand.
This is not about trying to fool people or be someone you are not in order to please others or fit in. That just doesn’t work very well. In most cases, you can’t fool very many people very much for very long. Your personal brand is about being yourself.
Four Keys to Developing Your Brand
In general, there are four guidelines that can guide you in developing your personal brand.
- Pay attention and ask the right questions. There are a bunch of possible questions in this section. The questions opens up the possibilities on the path to discovering and creating your brand.
- Commit to actions that will develop or demonstrate your brand. As you answer the questions some natural actions will suggest themselves. The key here is to be intentional in your actions – know what you want to do and then do it.
- Persevere and “hold the course” through all the challenges and confusions and uncertainty. This takes time and there will be ups and downs along the way, so the key is to keep going and keep learning and keep evolving.
- Talk with people you trust about #1-3 – this is really important. All your peers are faced with the challenge to develop an identity as a young man or young woman. Those that are facing that challenge directly (not all will) can be good sounding boards for you (and you for them).
Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask, act. Action will delineate and define you.Thomas