Your Personal Brand – What Separates the Men from the Boys?
By Mimi Evans
When the economy was hot, everybody was successful and life was great. As someone said to me the other day “even a dead fish can swim downstream”. Many did, and the current was flowing more quickly than anyone could have ever imagined. Now, sales opportunities are tougher to find and jobs are more difficult to land.
As we look around today, there are a limited number of people that we can identify as extremely successful. What REALLY makes the difference? What do they possess? What is the X factor? We wanted to find out and share the results of our research with you. So, we interviewed a number of executives who achieved and exceeded their goals in 2003 in order to understand the common denominators in how they achieved success. We asked the executives “how do you consistently over achieve?”
We uncovered that “the real tests in business are never quite what you’d expect”, according to David D’Alessandro, CEO of the John Hancock Company.
In his new book, Career Warfare: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Personal Brand and Fighting to Keep It, he explains, “It’s like a Rorschach test. Somebody flashes your name. What leaps into their minds? Eats peanut butter and liverwurst for lunch? Or has a really unique vision for the business?” He stresses throughout the book that your personal brand and your company’s brand are the key differentiators in today’s tough market place and they make the difference.
We found that in today’s economy, your personal qualities, traits, and characteristics are just as important as the company brand that you represent. People buy from people, not from big corporate brands. People buy on emotions, not based on facts and figures. The one common factor that will influence the emotional buying triggers is the personal brand that you portray. What comes to mind when someone hears your name? “She helped the company survive and thrive in a down economy” or “He is a bumbling idiot with no personality and communication skills”. Do you hear other people talk about the CEO by mentioning that “He could sell a dog off of a meat wagon” or “He’s content free…an empty suit”?
How do you improve your personal brand and help your customers and prospects feel good about doing business with you and your company? According to an executive at Kronos Corporation, “We consistently deliver value and ROI to our customers. We (continue to) build up a reputation which reflects upon our company and the individual sales people who delivered the return that was promised.” This statement reflects the importance of creating a company brand through the individual brands of the employees. This concept has been applied and it works because they have consistently grown revenues quarter over quarter.
Boni Lonnsburry, CEO of In Touch Today, a Denver-based marketing firm, has increased her business in the past 3 years by over 222% annually. When asked how she swam upstream and achieved these goals, she revealed a true focus on her person brand and her company’s brand and reputation. “We have a reputation in our industry for making our clients look good and achieve success in their businesses. It seems so simple, yet business people continue to overlook the importance of personal brand. Every person in our company knows how important it is to insure that the company name is reflected in everything we do.”
What can you do to increase your personal brand? Author and speaker Diane Darling, in her book “The Networking Survival Guide” offers these suggestions:
Everyone’s personal brand, from the receptionist, to the sales people, to the CEO are the individual parts that make the whole of the corporate brand. Recognize your personal brand and corporate brand and know your strengths and weaknesses. Understand what attracts others to you and your company and success will be yours.
Mimi Evans is a Founder of Seligence, LLC.