Welcome back, if you’re joining us again from last week and if you’re just tuning in now and haven’t read Part I and II of this series, I strongly recommend that you click here and here to do that before going on.
Last week we talked about how your professional brand is a natural extension of the personal. This week we’re concluding by discussing how and where you can leverage your brand and how you can check in to see if your efforts are paying off.
We’ve looked at how to develop a strong brand, but a strong brand isn’t worth much if it isn’t out and about, getting you the clients you want and the work you enjoy. There are many ways to share your brand with the world – you get to decide which ones will work best for you.
Brand Pillar Three
Ready to Launch!
Once you’re clear on your personal and professional brand, you need to give some consideration to where you want to express it and how. Even though we’ve talked about starting with you, minimizing cognitive dissonance and helping people see you clearly, you still get to decide how much you get to share and where.
This is especially important in today’s overly connected world. It’s tough to maintain credibility as a level-headed mediator if you tend to comment loudly and profanely on Facebook posts or Twitter. People can and will Google you. This doesn’t mean you should hide your personality online or off, but it does mean you need to raise your awareness of how things might be perceived by others.
Here’s what to consider for building this pillar, through the lens of your personal and professional brand:
- Where do you want to be seen, online and off? Think of where your best clients, resources and support sources might be found. Find ways to get there, whether through networking, online posts or social avenues.
- How do you want to show up? Before you go, think about how you’ll be when you get there. How is your brand getting reflected in all that you do? Is it consistent with who you are?
- How much do you want to share? If you’re a more private person, then you will naturally want to be a bit more reserved online and off. If you’re quite open, then you’ll share more freely. However, you’ll want to consider the effects of both. Too private and it will be hard for people to relate to your humanity. Too open and it will be hard for people to relate to your expertise.
Ideally the way you show up will be matched to your brand. For example, if you’re a quiet and sensible person, show that in the places you’ve chosen to go. You might spend time listening and say only one or two things to someone who seems interesting. Your comments on social media are likely to be thoughtful. Your website will be full of useful content but likely not flashy. Cliché it might be, but keeping it real works.
Brand Pillar Four
The last and arguably most significant pillar once you get into space is the systems check. When it comes to brand, we’re always operating with incomplete information; we’ve usually got a pretty good idea internally of how we’re feeling about what we’re doing, but the only way to be sure of how well your brand is working for sure is to get external feedback.
Whatever information you get, incorporate it and adjust when and if necessary. Sometimes that means adjusting your brand expression and sometimes it means adjusting your environment, but keep adjusting. As much as we love to get things finished, brand is an evolving thing, rarely static for more than a year or two before shifts need to be made.
Here are the things to consider for getting checked in:
- Do you feel good about how you look and how you’re showing up?
- Are people responding well when you meet them?
- Is having an aligned brand leading you to more work and better connections?
For many people, seeking out external feedback can be tricky, so we’ll finish with some important safety tips.
First, remember to consider the source and choose carefully. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, so sometimes no adjustments need to be made, if you’re good with the first and third points above.
Second, if the response isn’t good and you think it should be, check back to see if how you’re showing up is appropriate for the audience in addition to being appropriate for you. Sometimes people err on the side of individualization and fail to fully consider the impact of their environment.
Third, remember that response is a subjective thing and only you can define the response you’d like to get. For example, if you’re a challenger then the desired response might be for people to get mad at you and go away. Think carefully about the kind of response you want your brand to get.
The feelings you have internally and the response you’re getting externally should match up. If you feel capable and confident and are getting treated as someone who is those things, then great. If that’s not happening, refer to pillars one two and three.
Have a thought? Agree? Disagree? Let us know, comment below!
Katherine Lazaruk, AICI, CIC is an image and professional branding consultant in Vancouver. In addition to being the force behind ICU Image Consulting, she is a sessional instructor in the Image Consulting Program for Langara College and serves as Secretary for the Canada Chapter Board of AICI.