Branding seems to be the new buzzword. But we are only just scratching the surface!
In this blog I’m going to show you the one ingredient in branding that hasn’t been taught to you yet. Add this ingredient to everything else you’ve learned, and you’ll see your career advance faster than you thought possible.
Here’s the one thing I want you to remember about branding yourself: it is no longer about the ‘what’; it is all about the’why’.
I was recently at a conference where I noticed a remarkable difference in the reactions people had between varying brands.
Do you know why we gave Barb Stegeman, founder of 7 Virtues Beauty Inc. a standing ovation, and politely applauded Mr. David Chilton of Dragon’s Den fame from the comfort of our cushioned seats?
Barb had a bigger why.
Do you know why we went googoo over the Pandora bracelets and politely sipped our Glenfiddich?
Pandora had a bigger why.
Is it a wonder that seemingly qualified and over-achieving men and women get overlooked for promotions, board appointments and job openings?
Because the other candidate, like it or not, had a bigger (although most of the time only mildly-bigger-at-best) ’why’!
Simon Sinek has a brilliant book out (and Ted talk to go with it), that encourages every business person to first start with WHY. (Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it yet.)
When you start with why, you instantly create the connection you need to draw people in.
What’s In Your Brand
Your brand is composed of several elements, the least of which are your skills and strengths. Because, and I know you are going to be disappointed in this (and some of you may even get mad at me for it), I can buy your skills and strengths anywhere. You were not the only soul put on this earth with time management skills, organization skills, or the ability to speak in public. You are not the only banker, retailer, accountant or educator with 20 years (or 30, or 40 years) experience. I’m sorry. But with 10 million people in our general vicinity, your skills and strengths are simply not really that unique. So although they are a part of your brand, they are simply not enough.
Your beliefs are where you start to show uniqueness. Lauren Friese from TalentEgg gave an outstanding presentation about Millennials, and I want to take a moment here to ground this idea in something very important that Lauren asked us to do: "Be real at the expense of being perfect".
This doesn’t only apply to how you treat Millennials. It also applies in every aspect of your career. It applies to everyone you network with, everyone you interview with, and everyone you work for.
Being real requires that you know what you believe, and that you express it so that others know what you believe. When we don’t know what we believe, we shoot for "perfect". It is an agonizing spiral into self-defeat.
Beliefs are personal. No two people have exactly the same set of beliefs. Sure, you might have 1 or 2 beliefs in common with someone, but it is your collection of beliefs, and how they play off of one another, that makes you truly unique. For example: I believe that vacation time is important. I also believe that going to a beach on vacation is the best way to spend a vacation. I further believe that beaches are both healthy and relaxing. That makes me unique from you. We both may be equally as “skilled” at planning our vacation time, but our expression of that skill comes out completely differently.
I had a client last year who worked in an employee services department. Every time she came to me with a work frustration, it had to do with somebody treating an employee (or a whole group of employees) unfairly, or with little regard for their dignity. Any wonder what her belief was?
The problem with beliefs is that they are difficult to package up and present to the people who make decisions about our careers.
Enter Point of View
Your Point of View is how you express your beliefs. It is the statement that captures your unique perspective on things. It is the thing that people will either “like” or “not like” about you.
It is your job to be courageous enough to accept both.
For example, some people really like my point of view: Business is personal. Let’s stop pretending it’s not.
Others are completely against it, and would rather keep things separate. I’m ok with that. You can believe whatever you want. I only ask that you honour the beliefs of others, but that you also honour your own.
My dear employee services client came to one of her sessions asking me to help her with her “brand”. Naturally, I asked her what she thought her current brand was.
"I’m really great at projects, and implementing change", was her response.
Hmm, can anyone say "dime a dozen"? I bet most of you reading this blog would be happy to claim the same skillset.
We talked it over a little more, and I reminded her of the one thing that she continuously brought to our meetings that told me her real belief. Her point of view.
"You can’t stand it when employees are treated unfairly and are stripped of their dignity. Agree?"
"Yes" she said.
That’s “point of view”.
"Any VP or SVP who needs a champion for their staff because they have a strategic change to implement will want you on their team" I told her. On the flip side, no leader in their right mind would admit to the opposite - "Employees be damned, I will implement change!" That’s a pretty solid brand.
Your skills are a commodity. But not everyone’s heart gets broken the same way. Not everyone is deeply passionate about the same thing. This was her passion. This was the one thing that pissed her off more than anything in the entire 7 months she coached with me. THIS was her BRAND! Find Your Point of View Ask yourself these two questions right now, and see if you can identify your point of view:
- What absolutely breaks your heart?
- What pisses you off?