The process of discovering and developing my own professional brand taught me some important lessons about how to get the process right. If you are ready to define and elevate yourself as a brand, here are some takeaways that you should being to implement now:
1. Align Your Brand with Market Demands
It is important that we continue to understand the skills that the market needs, and to continue to align our brands, strengths, and value that we offer to fill these gaps.
2. Promote Your Brand
Many women are not comfortable with promoting themselves and worry that they come across as bragging. The challenge is that we end up missing out on opportunities. Demonstrating our value and our uniqueness are definitely not the same as bragging. Bragging is about the ego and showing off, while promoting our brand is about problem-solving, supplying our talents to fulfill a demand, and demonstrating our ability to bring value.
3. Keep Your Marketing Materials Current
These are things such as our resumes, social media bios, LinkedIn profiles, and websites. These materials are a summary of our brand in words. Many people do not update their marketing materials for years for various reasons. If you are one of these people, an idea for you is to remember to update your information twice a year, and use every day-light savings as a reminder. Block a couple of hours and get your information updated. This way, when an opportunity shows up, you will be ready with a clearly documented brand.
4. Protect Your Brand
Our brands are our identities, and it is important to be protective of them. We need to be on-brand all the time and with everything we do - our words, how we present ourselves, our quality of deliverables - everything about us needs to be aligned with our brand. In addition to protecting our physical brand image, the digital brand is just as important. Some of the things that you can do to protect your digital brand include:
o Google your name periodically and make sure that you are ok with the information that comes up. Otherwises take action to get any negative information deleted (if possible).
o Add your name on Google Alerts. This will notify you via email when your name is being mentioned online.
o Be careful of what you post on social media. Nothing is private or protected online. Instead, everything is public knowledge. Be selective about the information and the pictures that you post. Also, if someone tags you on a picture that you feel does not align with your brand, then untag yourself.
5. Continue to Evolve Your Brand
Just like our interests and goals evolve over time, our brands evolve as well. This is a journey of continuous growth and continuous self-discovery. The foundation to this process is to stay true to ourselves and to stay connected with our authentic self.
It has been a decade since I reached out to my coach and asked her to help me with my resume. The journey of defining and expressing my brand was a life-changing experience. Now, I wake up excited about my work everyday. The clarity that I gained from branding myself and understanding my value and uniqueness fueled me with the desire to work on projects that are aligned with my strengths. It started with volunteering to give leadership training and mentoring anyone that asked me for help. Shortly after, I was offered a Talent Development Manager role within the same company. I loved every moment of it. I loved it so much that a few years later, I decided to resign and start my own company focused on developing leadership skills in others. I take everyone I work with on a journey of brand-discovery, because it is the most powerful, transformative method for professional satisfaction and for tapping into our authentic-self that we bring into business.
It seems like we are not much different than IBM, Coke, Apple, Whole Foods, or Southwest, when it comes to branding after all. Let’s continue to be focused, intentional, and deliberate in discovering, promoting, protecting, and evolving our brand.