Whether or not we are consciously aware of it, we live in a world defined by branding. Being in the marketing industry, we often converse about branding as it pertains to a company or a product. Hours upon hours of analysis and evaluation and strategic tactics go in to determine perception and positioning of a particular campaign. Though we are proactive in the industry, we can sometimes be inept at the most important (in my opinion) aspect: personal branding.
On average, your first impression is formed in someone’s mind within 7 seconds of meeting you. In other words, in the time it takes you to say, “Hello, my name is_____. It’s nice to meet you”, you’ve been branded. And as any marketer will tell you, few things are more important than your brand. It’s your identity- how people see you. That can be a lot of pressure. Sometimes your brand is clear. You’re the funny one, the nice one, the pretty one, the smart one, the rebellious one, etc. Sometimes the lines can be a little more blurred. Here are six ways to help you determine your brand:
1. Meet yourself. It may feel awkward at first, but spend some time describing yourself to yourself. What adjectives first pop into your head? What are you passionate about? What makes you tick? What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? How do you feel about who you are? Who would you like to be?
2. Take a personality test. If you’re unsure as to how to describe yourself, try taking a personality test. A test can help evaluate how you see and react to different situations and what that says about your personality. It may help you understand why you see things the way that you do.
3. Position yourself. How do you want to be seen? Sometimes misconception is inevitable, but more often than not, people will see you the way that you want them to see you. Make a list of the top 5 adjectives you most want people to think about you, and the top 5 adjectives you hope no one ever thinks about you. Try to find ways to support your pro list and negate your con list.
4. Do a personal SWOT and brand statement. If you’re in advertising, use the same model you use for a campaign. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What opportunities are available to you? What do you have potential to achieve? What is holding you back? What is working against you? What do you have to overcome? What statement defines who you are and what you’re about?
5. Ask someone. Do you think you have a brand? Ask some of your friends and family who you know you well how they would describe you. See if how you think you come off is how you are actually perceived. Pay attention to what your co-workers and peers say about you. Do people compliment any specific qualities?
6. Be you. It sounds simple, but sometimes being yourself is a challenge. There is no greater exhaustion than trying to be someone you are not. If you are outgoing, be outgoing. If you are reserved, be reserved. You will always have people telling you to be this way or that, but the bottom line is that no one knows better than you do who you really are. Take others opinions with a grain of salt. If you can’t find an existing brand that fits you perfectly, that’s ok. That’s the beautiful thing about humans. We’re all unique! Make your own brand. Be the best version you can be of you; life is too short to be anyone else.
For further reading check out Forbes “Seven Seconds to Make a First Impression”or Fast Company’s “The Brand Called You.”