What is a brand? Why is it important? Simply put, a brand is your unique fingerprint -- how you are identified in your community. Whether we know it or not, we all have a brand, both personal and professional. Our personal brand is how we are identified as an individual (i.e., kind, witty, intelligent, thoughtful, etc.). On the other hand, our professional brand is how we are identified as related to our specific profession (i.e., successful entrepreneur, detailed auditor, zealous attorney, dedicated physician, etc.).
In most cases, your personal and professional brands are examined collectively. It is your responsibility as an individual to actively participate in shaping the overall perception of your brand so that it is displayed in a manner that you are proud to represent. When establishing a brand, consider building upon the following factors:
• Identify Your Brand: Decide how you want to present yourself and/or your business to the world. Determine what makes you stand out from the masses and decide what niche you would like to create within your practice area.
• Know Your Value: Identify your strengths and the particular set of skills that you have to offer your clientele. Exercise confidence in your abilities knowing that what you have to offer, no one else can bring to the table.
• Build a Team of Advisors: Discuss the goals for your brand with individuals that you trust and admire, who also have experience in the particular area or subject matter that is of interest to you. Establish relationships with several mentors who inspire you and are not afraid to be honest and direct with you while offering assistance during the formation and growth of your brand.
• Become a Scholar: Adopt a hunger to learn and expose yourself to everything that you need to know in order to become an expert in your specific area of interest. Educate yourself by reading articles about various companies and individuals that have obtained long lasting brands. Humble yourself and become an apprentice or intern for a more established company or individual who is a leader in your area of interest.
• Get Out There and Build: The best way to learn is to get out there and do it. As long as you have the passion to build your brand and are actively working on developing your skills-- while maintaining the hunger to grow and learn, you must step out on faith and be confident that you are ready to introduce your brand to the world. Of course this step in the process may seem scary. You are beginning a new experience with no instructions to guide you or even a blueprint of what to expect; however, you must remain positive that you will succeed and you must know that you are equipped for whatever task comes your way.
Brand building is essential; however, you must not become so consumed in perfecting your brand that you lose yourself and your personal touch in the process. After all, people work with individuals that they like and trust, not machines with no personality. Brand building takes time and dedication; however, if you commit the time and energy to build your brand wisely, all of the hard work and sacrifice will be worthwhile. Remember that loved ones, current clients, and even future consumers will all gravitate to you for your brand -- "that thing" that only you can offer.