If you attended Illuminate 2013, you’ll recall that one of the sponsors, Cynthia White, spoke briefly about personal branding. Even watching Cynthia as she sat with the panel on-stage, I could almost feel her air of quiet confidence (plus, she was rocking a very well-coordinated outfit.) When she got up to walk to the podium, my first thought was “Man, I need a haircut.” As Cynthia discussed how she had created her personal style as part of her brand image, my second thought was “Ok, I need to really think about accessorizing every once in a while.” And, finally, as she finished speaking, I thought “I wonder if I really could commit to spending enough time on myself that I feel put together, every day.” (Answer: probably not…but I’m going to give it a whirl.)
Ironically, the following week, we had a Personal Branding seminar at work in our women’s leadership series. The focus of this seminar was a little bit different…it almost felt like creating a mission statement upon which to base the rest of your activities. As a blogger, it’s easy to hide behind my website and write without really thinking about how I want to present myself. As a relatively new Rodan + Fields consultant, that’s not possible. (That’s actually part of the reason I chose to join R+F: a challenge to myself to get out of my comfort zone and grow in a different direction that will likely help my corporate career as well. But I digress.)
The Branding seminar at work offered some great guidelines to help us develop our own personal brands. They’re so good, in fact, that I wanted to share them with you. Incidentally, the presenter was my company’s Chief Marketing Officer, who is quite a high-level executive. He has also been vice president of marketing at both HP and Apple, so he has some street cred.
Here is what he recommends:
Before you can create your personal brand statement, you need to have a promise of value. These two items are very closely linked, and together, they create the expectation of what you can deliver. I’d never actually thought about a promise of value before, but here it is: “Your unique promise of value is the promise you make to your target market that your brand will fulfill. It clarifies and communicates what makes you special. You must be able to live up to this promise.”
Your promise of value should be relatively simple; it may even be the reason you began your business in the first place, or the reason that you are in your current corporate job. Once you’ve got that one down, you can take the first steps to creating your personal brand statement. To do this, he suggests answering the following questions, in sequence:
- List 3 or 4 words that describe your essential qualities quickly and clearly.
- Know your “essence factor” – the core of who you are. Think of it this way: “I am in my element when ________.”
- What is your authority factor? What are the skills and expertise that people recognize in you?
- Finally, what makes you a superstar? What sets you apart? Or, “People comment on my ability to _______.”
Here are a couple of samples he provided:
Whiz of a Sales Executive
I was born knowing about selling the sizzle, not the steak. An executive risk taker,
I drive business to the next level. Application of enthusiastic confidence generates new
customers and competitively positions products. I consistently overcome obstacles and
generate product loyalty while increasing company’s profits and global market recognition.
Kathleen Marshall, — Medford, NJ
Career Management Natural
Before I moved into the trenches of actually experiencing the workplace or studying its
dynamics, I successfully — but informally — advised legions of friends on their career
choices. Now, after gaining HR generalist employment in the allied health field and
completing the HR certificate program at the University of Lowell, I realize that the ability
to guide individuals in career management issues comes naturally to me.
Gail Frank, NCRW, CPRW, JCTC, CEIP —Tampa, FL
Finally, he gave us the template below to help guide our thinking. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. If you do use it, don’t be constrained by it; this is simply a starting point.
I use my ___________________________________ and _________________________________
Known for _____________________________, I _______________________________________.
Using ____________________________________________________(key trait),
by providing _____________________________________________________________________.
Through my _____________________________________________________________________,
I ____________________________________, when I serve ______________________________.
Best of luck in creating your personal brand!
Kristen Bagwell is a corporate director, the click-clacker behind www.CorporateMama.com, and an executive consultant for Rodan + Fields skin care. She’s also a wife and mother of 2, and is consistently over-extended (but usually happy with that). Connect with Kristen on Facebook and Twitter.