What’s Your Brand All About?

What’s your brand all about? No, not your company brand. What does your personal brand represent?

Until recently I never thought I had a personal brand. As a marketing professional I took on the persona of the company that paid the bills (or at least that’s what I thought). I’ve always been selective about the technologies I support. But at the end of the day I projected the company’s messages, I followed their informal dress code, and I wrote about topics that mattered to my company’s prospects.

Somehow, without trying, I’ve in fact created a personal brand. And that personal brand is as important to my company, as it is to me. Because the Internet is so pervasive what I blog & twitter are as much a part of my professional persona as what I say at an industry event. What’s more, how I say those things gives insight into who I am, and how much credibility I bring to a conversation. And all of those things together make up my personal brand. Your personal brand should come naturally, but not without thought.

If created attentively your personal brand represents a tremendous opportunity to extend your reach, personalize your relationships with colleagues and get more fulfillment from your work.

Keeping this in mind, I’ve started a list of guidelines for managing my brand identity.

1. Stop. Pause. And Post.
Just like I pause before hitting the send button on an email, I pause before hitting post for on-line mediums. By giving myself a few seconds to review what I’ve written I’ve found I insert my foot in my mouth a lot less often. And when that doesn’t work, I take blame for my mistake and correct it as soon as possible.

2. Be Myself (mostly)
I believe that your personality is as important as the information you want to share. By being myself I can offer authentic advice and experiences with others. Of course, there are times when being myself means I should be by myself. Honor those instincts!

3. Tell the Truth
Enough said.

4. Be Interested
If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested. Write about things you are passionate about, or at least things that amuse or intrigue you.

5. My Lips Are Sealed
Be respectful of others. If you are told something in confidence, keep it that way. If you aren’t sure, ask permission before sharing.

6. Add Value, Don’t Instigate
As a young adult I wanted to be a part of every conversation. I would often take the contrary view just to participate. Over the years I’ve matured and recognized what you say matters more than how many places you talk.

7. I Am Not Who I Work For
While I have an obligation and desire to represent my employer in an appropriate and professional manner, my personal brand is more than just my company’s views. Separating who I am, from who I work for, is integral to long term personal brand building. I firmly believe the two can and should live in harmony, complimenting one another.

8. It Takes Two To Tango
My online & off-line worlds are totally integrated. How I act in one place, should be reflected in how I act in the other. If I wouldn’t say it at a conference cocktail party, I shouldn’t say it in a twitter post.

9. Use Common Sense
Don’t let emotions get the better of you. Use good common sense judgement at all times.

Like all policies, my guidelines will evolve over time. In the meantime, its fun exploring new communication vehicles and learning environments.