When I talk to audiences across the country, it never fails to amaze me how quickly they respond when I show slides of famous brands. Coke. Nike. Disney. The audience members shout out descriptors, showing that they are intimately familiar with the brand and its message. As soon as I say the brand Nike, a melodic swoosh sound seems to come from the audience. Coke immediately brings the color red, refreshing, Americana. It is incredibly easy for the audience to recognize brand essence and physical attributes of top brands.
Then I challenge the audience to identify the next brand, the brand that is most important for their personal success. I pause for a moment and put up a slide with one word: you.
The silence is stunning. Blank faces stare back at me.
This amazes me too. The audience knows the iconic brands, but people have nothing to say about their own brand. I immediately jump in to encourage them. “Tell me what the Brand – you says? How do people describe you? What is your trademark? What experience do you represent?”
After a very long pause people normally pick up their pen and press to paper, still waiting for the image to come to their minds. It is amazing to me still. After all, this is your brand. The brand that no one should know better than you.
There is not a brand on the market today that just happens. Marketers are painstakingly careful to create a brand’s persona, but how do we as humans interpret this persona? Virtually thousands of images large and small inform us about brands over time. I think of iconic brands such as Coke, Nike, and Disney and immediately memories of their icon, colors, and slogans begin to play in my head. These images create subliminal connotations and impressions in my mind, so that I as a consumer respond to the message either negatively or positively. Whether I am a fan of the brand or not, every image of the brand calls to mind my experience with that brand. These experiences affect my attitude toward the branded product and the company behind the product. I form an opinion of the brand, which influences how I will relate to the brand in the future. The brand, in other words, makes an impression on me which affects my decisions regarding the product. Does the brand attract me to the product, or does it cause me to look for something else? Does the brand inspire me to invest in the product, or does it cause me to spend my time and money elsewhere?
Your personal brand has the same impact on those around you. The various impressions that you make on other individuals influence their reaction to you, and this can have a profound influence on you personal and professional life. You would never create a brand for yourself that made a negative impression on others. But too often individuals do exactly that, if they are unaware of the message, look, feel and voice of the brand they are building. You need to create a strong personal brand with a solid story and content. Professional Presence will help you do just that.
Taken from the Introduction to Professional Presence: A Four-Part Guide to Creating Your Personal Brand