Whether you are a business, organisation or an individual, building your brand is the one activity that starts when you are born and will continue with you until your final days. A great brand will live on forever in the memories of those you touched positively while a bad brand will suddenly find you losing customers, employment opportunities, partners, family and friends.
So what is your brand?
More than a 150 years ago, cattle ranchers used branding irons to indicate which animals were theirs. As the cattle moved across the plains on their way to the slaughter house, it was easy to determine which ranches they were from because each head of cattle was branded.
In modern days “your brand” is almost related to everything you do. Celebrities live and die on their brand and believe it or not so do we as individuals, companies and not for profit organisations. A brand today relates to how we look, how we are perceived by those who already know us, how we act, how we present ourselves, what we say, how we use Social Media (Yes, especially for you teenagers it’s how you use Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat). Almost every action we take can have a positive or negative impact on our brand. Today building your brand and destroying your brand is getting easier and easier.
Companies for years have understood about building their brands, you only have to look at the impact Coke has made over the last few decades with highly successful advertising and brand building campaigns depicting that Coke drinkers lead youthful, fun and exciting lives – and they have been extremely successful. Today they have to counter the negative reality that too much sugar in our diet is detrimental to our health. So how will they ‘save’ their brand? Changing the makeup of Coca Cola may not have the desired effect as the Coke brand is built on the way it looks and tastes, and how it makes us feel, for many the taste they use to love is now too sickening to drink.
So, will sales of ‘Pump’ water save Coca Cola?
Most organisations looking to hire people understand the importance of their employment branding, well you hope they would. The reality is many organisations over the past few years have forgotten what a brand really is and although they may have been painting a wonderful story with some expensive advertising campaign, the very recruitment process backing up this campaign is quickly destroying their brand and their ability to hire the top talent they really want. They have basically taken the ‘human’ side out of the recruitment process in order to streamline the hunt for staff, instead of focused on the full brand experience and understood that the first real contact made with people needs to be treated in a very different manner. Of course there are many organisations who have woken up to this mistake and are taking their recruitment a lot more seriously.
The ATS systems are being replaced by people dedicated to finding the right people for their teams, recruitment a skill that most hiring managers use to have in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is now back in the hands of those educated managers who understand the value of taking the important responsibility of identifying the people they are looking to hire, and building a relationship with them, reducing the risk of hiring them by evaluating and reserching their backgrounds while understanding that they too are representing the organisations brand, and setting a strong impression with their own personal brand.
Hiring people in the future is going to look a lot different from the late 90’s and today. Well for the organisations that want the top talent it will.
For individual people
As we become more successful in whatever field we choose to pursue our brand grows and depending on the way we act, or more important are seen to act our brand is established in people’s minds. Yes, brands are only established by the way people think about us.
So like anything in the mind a brand can be changed, or built on, or if we are not careful destroyed. The fact is whatever we do we will build a brand that some people will love, some people will like and some people may not care for. The trick for us as individuals is taking the time to think about building the brand we would like to have with people we like to live, work and play with. We also need to understand it is very hard to build one brand so those who try and juggle two (My ‘business’ brand & my ‘personal’ brand) will not only find this task difficult but if they have distinct differences, you are more than likely going to ‘get’ found out. Your true brand is the one you will be buried with.
How do I build my brand?
The tricky thing is to understand what we are looking to build. My personal approach albeit a little morbid, is for you to take sometime to think about the end. Imagine your funeral, what are the people (who turned up) saying about you, to each other (not your eulogy, cause thats more likely going to be only focused on the positive) but what are they really saying about you.
Next step is, what would you like them to say about you? This is your brand. Now you can go about working on how to build it.
The next stage is to decide what values you would like to live by, and try and apply those when you approach your daily life. Building a strong positive brand takes hard work, but if you are consistent, persistent and true to yourself you can build a great brand. Because a great brand is not only about how we look, act, treat others and contribute to our chosen communities, workplaces, clients it’s about how we think and more importantly how everyone around us who cares to know us and who really does not know us thinks about us.
Don’t just think about how your future client or boss thinks about you. Think as much about the person at reception who gets that first impression from you (yes they will share it with their boss). Think about the person you provided services too as much as about the person you provide services for. Think about those people who may know the people you know, think about the stranger or future employer or client who reads your Facebook page posts, personal website, or LinkedIn profile and you will really start to get an understand what your brand truly is.
Is it time to work on your brand?