What Is Your Brand?

If someone mentions a well-known brand, something like Apple or BMW or Coca-Cola, there are certain things that come to mind, right?   Maybe it’s an adjective like “innovative,” or even a color like “red.”

Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively.   Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.

Amy Jo Martin

If someone were to ask you this question, what would you answer?   The question isn’t, “What is your favorite brand?”   But, what is your brand?   There are distinct thoughts, memories or opinions that come to mind when you come into contact with a brand or its elements (logo, tagline, etc.)

So, what about you?   What are those things that come to mind when someone comes into contact with you…  or sees your name or your picture?   Have you ever thought about this?   It probably comes as no surprise that people have opinions about you, but how intentional are you about what those opinions are?   Do you proactively do things to help convey the message that you want to convey about yourself?   Have you made a conscious decision about what you want others to think about you or are you allowing it to “just happen”?

First impressions are one important, initial aspect of all of this.  Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink refers to “thin slices” of information that we process, allowing is to make judgments within seconds of meeting someone for the first time.   In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman postulates that our “System 1” of fast thinking causes us to make early snap judgments that are often incorrect.   He cites a study which shows that immediate opinions are formed when confronted only with a first name.   He goes on to point out that the brain has to work hard at then changing that initial impression, as any information that follows about that person is filtered through that initial lens.   All of this to say, that first impressions are extremely important!

Beyond first impressions though, there is ample opportunity to affect the opinions that others form about you. In the age of social media for example, you can control what you put on Linkedin or Facebook and so forth.   Do you think about how those posts are going to reflect on you?   What they say about your brand?

I remember going through an exercise in business school where we had to develop a “mental map” of our personal brand’s core values; five or so main words or values that could be used to define us.   What would other people say they are?   What would I say they are?   What would I like them to be?   Do all these lists line up?   Are the values the same?   If they’re not, what would I need to do to remedy that situation?

So that’s my final question for you…  If you were to go through this exercise, what words and values do you want to be associated with you, and are you currently being assessed that way?   If not, what do you need to do about it?

Once we find the answers to these questions we will realize one additional relevant benefit of this exercise: as market researchers, the more we pay attention to our own branding, the more in tune we will be to the branding in the world operate in, both our personal lives and our clients.

~ Bud Sanders

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