And Why You Should Start Now
You see somewhere between 4000 to 10,000 ads every day, (reference) so you’ve got a pretty good idea which companies are succeeding and which ones are not at developing a strong brand. The goal of this article is to show you how branding is not just for publicly traded companies. Or for Youtubers! All these ads you see everyday are to reinforce the values and unique selling propositions of each of those companies.
What are your core values?
If you haven’t already done this exercise, you should take a moment to ask yourself this question. There are loads of free resources to help you with this task. Compiling a list of 3-5 core values will help you understand yourself better and how you make decisions.
If you’re struggling on where to start, research adjectives and pull out your top picks. There is no right or wrong answer, just collect all the ones that “feel” right. Here is an example of values, but it is my no means a complete list! Please feel free to include any other values that are close to your heart.
Source: THE COMPOUND EFFECT by Darren Hardy ©2010 by SUCCESS Media www.TheCompoundE!ect.com
For example, you may have really strong feelings about honesty. You’ll know this is one of your core values if you get really upset when people tell you lies, or half-truths. If this is the case, building your personal brand around honesty will mean that your choices, your words and how you treat others will be based on honesty. People will come to know you as an honest person.
Honesty will be part of your brand.
Once you have a list of anywhere between 10-30 core values, ask yourself “which of these bring meaning to my life?” Put differently, what could you not live without? As you look over your list you’ll probably see some themes and certain values will be quite similar. Keep only those that feel completely authentic to you.
Ideally after these exercises, you have a short list that when combined make up who you are. Over the course of your life they will help you make decisions more easily. So, going back to the honesty example, if you’re faced with a dilemma that forces you in one scenario to lie to someone, and in the other option your choice is to be truthful, you’ll choose the honest option. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but you get the idea.
Values are the fundamental principles that all strong brands use to define their imaging, their voice, their tone, the words they use, the clients they work with and so on and so forth. They operate at such a massive scale, but the same principles apply to everyday people. The ability to stick to your values is incredibly powerful and will get you noticed.
What makes a good brand?
Consistency. When you think about your favourite companies, they probably all have one thing in common, they deliver on their promises. It’s the same thing for individuals. If you are inconsistent, such as showing up late to meetings, delivering poor quality work, or letting your mood impact how you communicate with others – you are developing a negative brand image.
It doesn’t matter if you’re at a party with friends, working on a school project or taking on a new job. You should be consistent in all areas of your life. You are your greatest asset. So show yourself some respect, and be consistent in how you portray yourself to others. You never know who is listening, or what opportunities you’ll be missing by giving others a bad impression.
You can also throw this advice into the wind and find out the hard way!
Now, let’s be clear here that consistency does not mean that you say “yes” to everyone just to please them. You hurt yourself more by trying to be everything to everyone. It’s okay to say “no” and to turn down offers that aren’t really for you. You won’t be able to provide consistently good work in school or at your job, if you’re spreading yourself too thin.
So saying no to the things that bring you no value, and are draining your precious time and energy will allow you to give 100% to the areas that do matter. Which by the way, does include your friends and family! That should be part of your personal brand too.
We live in a world where most people, including our political leaders, forget to think about their future selves. It’s all about the right here and right now. Strong brands, powerful brands, think long-term about all of their actions. They don’t fall prey to this mindset. Instead they focus on innovation and growing long-lasting relationships built on trust.
Having a good life is not the same as an easy life. Just like having a strong brand doesn’t come out of nowhere. It takes years to build-up credibility, and all this accrues over time to make it easier to convince others that you keep your promises and commitments.
Think about it, why should I trust you? Why should you trust me?
There’s a reason why some brands show no sign of stopping, and others fall flat on their faces. To have a strong personal brand, you need to stand for something; which will be defined by your core values. These values have to be applied consistently. Meaning you can’t pick and choose when to be honest and when to be dishonest. Or when to be innovative. Similarly, your actions, your words and everything you do should be working towards a long-term goal.
This goal does not need to be articulated to anyone. It could be your little secret. However, you’ll find that the more you focus on things that matter to you the most, the clearer your path will become. And someday, you’ll be able to look back in your rear-view mirror and understand how you got to where you are today. Everything will add up as if you had a plan all along, (even if you were making it up as you went along).
So, why should you start now?
Because this isn’t a dress rehearsal. Life is happening right now! And the more time you spend becoming your authentic self, and exuding your core values consistently, the more predictable you will become. Which is NOT a bad thing. In this case, “predictable” means that other people will expect quality from you, they will come to rely on you, and this will be your strong personal brand in action.
No one will ever be able to take that away from you. It’s a currency more valuable than anything you could buy on the stock market, or keep in a safe.