(This is a co-authored article with Dr. Wanda Wallace, President and CEO of Leadership Forum, Inc.)
The consumer brand industry has a long track record in creating great brands by deploying a variety of methods to identify the essence of a brand. We ask one simple question: What can consumer package goods brands teach us about branding that can help individuals create stronger personal brands? As it turns out, plenty.
Great consumer brands impact us in two ways: The tangible benefits consumers receive plus the intangible benefits of using or identifying with the brand. For a personal brand this translates into the tangible Business Impact, the intangible Human Impact and your Tribe, which is also intangible.
Your Business Impact is the tangible impact your actions have on the organization. This is the business benefits you provide the organization from achieving objectives to impacting market share, growth, profitability, new ideas and the like.
Your Human Impact is the intangible impact you have on the people around you. What intangible benefit do people get from from working with you? How do they feel when they are working with you — energized, disciplined, threatened, excited, empowered or something else? Is working with you fun? Do you bring out the best in the team to break through issues when the team gets stuck?
Your Tribe is who is in your corner, from your team to your network, peers, allies, managers and sponsors. These are the people who influence your reputation in the organization. The tribe is a critical element of your personal brand because part of your intangible impact is the people we come into contact with when we work with you.
Each element of your Impact is measurable. Tangible Business Impact can be seen in performance reviews. Intangible Human Impact can be seen from some external 360 assessements or from a coach’s interviews. Your Tribe can be assessed by mapping your network.
Consumer brands capture the impact that is delivered. What input, effort and capability drives the tangible and intangible impacts? That is, what does the company provide that results in the benefits consumers take from the brand. For your personal brand, input is composed of two things: Your Expertise and Personality.
Your Expertise includes all the skills, functionality you bring, to the impact you have on the organization: your expertise, skills, knowledge and execution capability. This is everything you can do that delivers results. Build a brag board. Reflect on the accomplishments you have delivered for your company. Identify your strengths. Examine what skills have been most critical for the successes you are most proud of.
Your Personal Style is who you are and how you show up at work. Are you confident, quiet, firm but fair, direct, passionate, a critical thinker and so forth? All styles have value and all styles have consequences. You can assess your personal style through any number of psychometric tests such as Myers Briggs (MBTI), FIRO-B, Hogan, to name a few.
All of the above are assimilated for a consumer brand in order to identify a Discriminating Essence – the unique thing that only this brand stands for and that only this brand can deliver. For example, Dove has identified its brand essences as real beauty. While the first product in the Dove brand was a bar of soap, now the brand has shampoos, face lotions, men’s toiletries and on and on. What the brand stands for is real beauty in all of us. Grasping the Discriminating Essence is the most difficult part.
Your Discriminating Essence is the thing that is unique about you. You should be proud to wear it on a t-shirt. If a piece of paper with describing your essence was anonymously dropped on the floor, people should know it belongs to you. This will take time to hone.
Great brands and personal brands are always aspirational, what we strive to be. Look at where you are and where you want to be. Keep your personal brand updated and relevant. As you grow, so should your brand.
This personal branding model was developed in collaboration with Dr. Wanda Wallace, President and CEO of Leadership Forum, Inc. Dr. Wallace coaches leaders, conducts seminars and works with teams to improve leadership capability. Leadership Forum, Inc. helps organizations get it and keep it – from talent to strategic thinking. Its focus is on enabling leaders to deliver better results through better thinking, better execution, better leadership, better teams and better diversity. You can follow Dr. Wallace on Twitter @AskWanda and also enjoy weekly advice by subscribing to her podcast!
Listen to the specific podcast where we talked about our Personal Branding model here.