During a visit to my local Oxfam recently, one book in particular called me to it. A quick flick through the pages and I knew it was a book I needed to buy.
Brand You by John Purkiss and David Royston-Lee is an easy read interspersed with exercises to get you thinking about how to brand yourself.
Everyone and everything seems to have a brand these days and if I’m planning to be even half serious with my website then I need one too.
The book got me thinking about the nitty-gritty of developing a brand.
A brand has to be authentic – it’ll be hard to pull off and maintain if it’s not. I don’t want to get part way down the line and be revealed as a fraud, so staying true to myself and my beliefs is important.
But how do I really know what is the authentic me?
To start thinking about what is authentic you first have to identify your talents and values. Talents are things you are good at, skills you were born with, the sorts of things others might say ‘you are a natural’ at. Your values are the things you believe in and stand for.
If your brand is authentic it will be easy for people to know what you do and what you stand for. The authors point out that not everyone will like what you do or what you stand for, but others will. If your brand is clearly defined then it will be easy for people to decide if they like you or not. Making it easy means you can quickly forge better relationships with those who are favourable to you and your brand whilst not wasting time with those who don’t like what you do and never will.
Once you have a brand you have to think of it in two dimensions – reputation and reach.
To be successful you need a good reputation. This seems obvious, but won’t do you much good if hardly anyone knows about it. So hand-in-hand with your good reputation you need to be reaching an awful lot of people.
Ultimately your brand should turn you into a commodity so you stand out from the crowd and people want to work with you. They may even pay a premium just because it’s you.
For the first exercise I had to think about seven high points in my life and identify the talents I was using at these times. I then had to think about which talents I enjoy using the most and in which kinds of situation and with which kinds of people.
When I boiled everything down I came out with a list of talents I employ most frequently, feel successful when I use and gain the most energy from.
The talents I identified are:
- goal setting/achieving
- adapting/being flexible
I also felt that determination and perseverance have been important factors in my past achievements and high points, but didn’t think these really counted as ‘talents’.
Next I moved on to my values and started by making list of 20 people I admire. The list could include people I know personally as well as people who are well-known. Next to their names I wrote what it was that I admired about them.
By analysing what it is I admire in others I could begin to see what values are most important to me.
I realised that my values can be classed under three key words: caring, achieving and doing.
I care about others. I’m a socialist and believe deeply in fairness and justice for all. I also care about the world around me; the natural and cultural environments, animals and wildlife. I care about myself too; I aim to live a lifestyle that is healthy for both my mind and body. I care about my beliefs and think it is important to cast aside fears and stand up and speak out for what you believe in. I don’t always live up to own beliefs, but on the whole I think I do pretty well.
I constantly set myself goals and targets. These are always for things that are important to me, that interest me and that I want to achieve. I don’t see the point otherwise. Achieving goals, dreams, ambitions or whatever you want to call them, takes passion, confidence, determination, perseverance and self-belief. I’m constantly working towards them, planning, adapting when necessary and never giving up. Aiming to achieve, aiming for the best I can be is important enough to me for me to consider it a key value.
I hate feeling like I’m stuck in a rut. If I find myself getting bogged down in one, I quickly start going stir-crazy and behaving quite irrationally. I only have one life and it’s far too precious to waste trying to live inside a predetermined box, particularly one someone else has designed the parameters for. I want to live a life full of variety and I want to live it on my own terms. Hence it’s important to me to be constantly learning and experiencing new things, visiting new places, trying new foods, meeting new people. A life of ‘doing’ is a life I’m involved with rather than a life I’m watching pass me by.
So, there it is. My talents and values identified and the first steps taken towards developing my brand.
And I’ve still got a lot more of the book to read.