Or, if you can carve out the time, take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people. If you can get them singing your praises, theyll help spread the word about what a remarkable contributor you are. If those ideas dont appeal, try teaching a class at a community college, in an adult education program, or in your own company. You get credit for being an expert, you increase your standing as a professional, and you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you with more requests and more opportunities to stand out from the crowd. If youre a better writer than you are a teacher, try contributing a column or an opinion piece to your local newspaper. And when I say local, i mean local.
Secret to Answering: Where, do, you, see
Whats the pitch for you? So its a cliché: dont sell the steak, sell the sizzle. Its also a principle that every corporate brand understands implicitly, from Omaha Steakss through-the-mail sales program to wendys were just regular folks ad campaign. No matter how beefy your set of thesis skills, no matter how tasty youve made that feature-benefit proposition, you still have to market the bejesus out of your brand — to customers, colleagues, and your virtual network of associates. For most branding campaigns, the first step is visibility. If youre general Motors, ford, or Chrysler, that usually means a full flight of tv and print ads designed to get billions of impressions of your brand in front of the consuming public. If youre brand you, youve got the same need for visibility — but no budget to buy. So how do you market brand you? Theres literally no limit to the ways you can go about vitek enhancing your profile. Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills — or work on new ones.
Forget your job description. Ask yourself: What do i do that i am most proud of? Most of all, forget about the standard rungs of progression youve climbed in your career resume up to now. Burn that damnable ladder and ask yourself: What have i accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about? If youre going to be a brand, youve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, that youre proud of, and most important, that you can shamelessly take credit for. When youve done that, sit down and ask yourself one more question to define your brand: What do i want to be famous for? Thats right — famous for!
Do you anticipate and solve problems before they become crises? Your client saves money and headaches just by having you on the team. Do you always complete your projects within the allotted budget? I cant name a single assignments client of a professional services firm who doesnt go ballistic at cost overruns. Your next step is to cast aside all the usual descriptors that employees and workers depend on to locate themselves in the company structure. Forget your job title. Ask yourself: What do i do that adds buy remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value?
Go back to the comparison between brand you and brand x — the approach the corporate biggies take to creating a brand. The standard model they use is feature-benefit: every feature they offer in their product or service yields an identifiable and distinguishable benefit for their customer or client. A dominant feature of Nordstrom department stores is the personalized service it lavishes on each and every customer. The customer benefit: a feeling of being accorded individualized attention — along with all of the choice of a large department store. So what is the feature-benefit model that the brand called you offers? Do you deliver your work on time, every time? Your internal or external customer gets dependable, reliable service that meets its strategic needs.
Where, do, you, see
Starting today you are a brand. Youre every bit as much a brand as nike, coke, pepsi, or the body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at nike, coke, pepsi, or the body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my save product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer.
And then take the time to read. If your answer wouldnt light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or — art worst of all — if it doesnt grab you, then youve got a big problem. Its time to give some serious thought and even more serious effort to imagining and developing yourself as a brand. Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?
Look at McKinsey or Arthur Andersen for a model of the new rules of branding at the company and personal level. Almost every professional services firm works with the same business model. They have almost no hard assets — my guess is that most probably go so far as to rent or lease every tangible item they possibly can to keep from having to own anything. They have lots of soft assets — more conventionally known as people, preferably smart, motivated, talented people. And they have huge revenues — and astounding profits. They also have a very clear culture of work and life.
Youre hired, you report to work, you join a team — and you immediately start figuring out how to deliver value to the customer. Along the way, you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project. And if youre really smart, you figure out how to distinguish yourself from all the other very smart people walking around with 1,500 suits, high-powered laptops, and well-polished resumes. Along the way, if youre really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called you. What makes you different? Start right now: as of this moment youre going to think of yourself differently! Youre not an employee of General Motors, youre not a staffer at General Mills, youre not a worker at General Electric or a human resource at General Dynamics (ooops, its gone!). You dont belong to any company for life, and your chief affiliation isnt to any particular function. Youre not defined by your job title and youre not confined by your job description.
Where do, you, see
The brand is a promise of the value youll receive. The same holds true for that other killer app of the net — email. When everybody has email and anybody can send you email, how do you decide whose messages youre going to read and respond to first — and whose youre going to send to the trash unread? The answer: personal branding. The name of the email sender is every bit as important a brand — is a brand — as the name of the web site you visit. Its a promise of the value youll receive for the time you spend reading the message. Nobody understands branding better than professional services nurse firms.
Who else understands it? Every single web site sponsor. In fact, the web makes the case for estimator branding more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could. Heres what the web says: Anyone can have a web site. And today, because anyone can anyone does! So how do you know which sites are worth visiting, which sites to bookmark, which sites are worth going to more than once? The sites you go back to are the sites you trust. Theyre the sites where the brand name tells you that the visit will be worth your time — again and again.
: it was just over four years ago, april 2, 1993 to be precise, when Philip Morris cut the price of Marlboro cigarettes by 40 cents a pack. That was on a friday. On Monday, the stock market value of packaged goods companies fell by 25 billion. Everybody agreed: brands were doomed. Today brands are everything, and all kinds of products and services — from accounting firms to sneaker makers to restaurants — are figuring out how to transcend the narrow boundaries of their categories and become a brand surrounded by a tommy hilfiger-like buzz.
We are ceos of our own companies: me inc. To be in business today, vertebrae our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you. Its that simple — and that hard. Behemoth companies may take turns buying each other or acquiring every hot startup that catches their eye — mergers in 1996 set records. Hollywood may be interested in only blockbusters and book publishers may want to put out only guaranteed best-sellers. But dont be fooled by all the frenzy at the humongous end of the size spectrum. The real action is at the other end: the main chance is becoming a free agent in an economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field, looking to do your best work and chalk up a remarkable. Because if you do, youll not only reach out toward every opportunity within arms (or laptops) length, youll not only make a noteworthy contribution to your teams success — youll also put yourself in a great bargaining position for next seasons free-agency market. The good news — and it is largely good news — is that everyone has a chance to stand out.
Yourself in 5, years?
By tom Peterslong read, its a new brand world. That cross-trainer youre wearing — one look at the distinctive swoosh on the side tells everyone whos got you branded. That coffee travel mug youre carrying — ah, youre a starbucks woman! Your T-shirt with the distinctive champion c on the sleeve, the blue time jeans with the prominent levis rivets, the watch with the hey-this-certifies-I-made-it icon on the face, your fountain pen with the makers symbol crafted into the end. Youre branded, branded, branded, branded. Its time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson thats true for anyone whos interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work. Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding.