I just love sitting in the morning with my cup of tea [I mix half and half peach tea with green tea and sweeten with honey], bowl of cereal [high in fiber with some sliced banana, strawberries and blueberries and sprinkled with some roasted flax seeds and whole roasted unsalted almonds…my cousin-in-law calls it killer cereal – meaning he likes it] and the morning newspaper. I hope so much that this 21st century economy won’t kill the newspaper publishing industry. I like to hold the pages and read the words and be able to carry the paper around from room-to-room; to be able to cut out and save something in my idea file. I just really like the newspaper.
The other morning in the lifestyle section was a fashion article specific to what accessories teenagers wear and why they wear what they do. Of the examples given in the article, a couple of the answers are perfect definitions for the term personal branding. The article was written by reporter Jessica Yadegaran, and of the interviewed teens, the answers I thought best fit were:
- “…’It’s my trademark…’ [said by Cody Scrivano of Discovery Bay, CA]
- “…Because it says something about who you are or what you’re into….'” [said by Tatiana Rizo also of Discovery Bay, CA]
For anyone in business, personal branding is as important as the brand of the product or service you represent and can be reflected in a variety of ways. Branding can be tangible and intangible. Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you have a direct selling business and represent a company that produces a line of cosmetics. The packaging of the products will, of course, carry the name of the company and image logo [the brand] and all of the sales and promotional materials will carry the same name and image. *In some instances, the name alone is the brand image…the typeface or font and perhaps a unique spelling of the word makes it the unique brand element.
As the company’s representative, you probably have business cards that carry your name along with the brand image/name of the company…this links you to the brand. Handing out business cards linking you with your product is one way of personally branding yourself and your business. So, tangible branding would include:
- business cards
- other promotional materials
- decals or signage for your car
- shirts, jackets and caps with logos on them
- bottle caps, pens, pencils, tote bags…there is a host of promotional items available to which you can put your identifying logo…your brand
When you carry and use these tangible items, you are branding yourself. You are identifying yourself with this company and its products and/or services.
What about intangible personal branding?
I think in a way, the teenagers described above utilize accessorizing their wardrobe as a method of intangible branding. You could say something like [and these examples are my invention], “That guy always wears three black leather bands.” Or, “That young lady always favors turquoise-colored handbags.” These are things, traits, or elements, that these people become identified with…they have personally branded themselves. A business person can be intangibly branded – I believe – in some of these ways:
- always giving superior customer service – your customers always feel as though they are important because you return their calls promptly; answer their inquiries promptly and completely as possible; get their product or service issues handled satisfactorily
- have integrity – integrity is an intangible attribute that can reflect itself in tangible ways: being a good citizen lawfully; paying your taxes in full and on time; voting; playing fair; being a good neighbor, giving a helping hand where needed…both locally and globally; as well as integrity to and for your product or service: you provide “truth in advertising,” your claims are legal and truthful; you do what you say; you are your own best customer [if you won’t use your product or service, why should anyone you are trying to sell to?]
Personal branding is not just the logo on your business card…it’s also what you want to be known for. As a business person, what would you like to be known for?
- striving to meet your customers’ expectations for quality service
- honesty and integrity
- consistent quality and craftsmanship
- on time delivery with orders that are complete
This could be a very long list. Make a project for yourself to set aside some time to examine this idea of personal branding…if you were to describe it for yourself, what would it look like?