In 1997, management guru Tom Peters wrote an article called “The Brand Called You”. Some of us would have been too young to read it then, but its lessons ring as true today, as they did back then.
Peters’ thesis argument is that individuals can apply the lessons that big brands such as Nike and Starbucks use to make themselves stand out. “Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark”, he said.
According to Peters, creating Brand You starts with you identifying what makes you distinctive or noteworthy. In an office environment, “Do you deliver your work on time, every time? Do your customers gets dependable, reliable service? Do you anticipate and solve problems before they become crises? Do you always complete your projects within the allotted budget?
Peters says that if you’re going to be a brand then you must focus on what you do that adds value, and that you can unashamedly take credit for and then sell that. You too can wield the profound brand power of Oprah or the late Steve Jobs. However, doing this involves figuring out what makes you remarkable, exuding this ‘remarkability’ in everything you do, and pro-actively nurturing that remarkable impression of yourself.
Selling is about putting yourself on the spotlight. Let your colleagues and people in your life see what you’re good at. It’s no good keeping all that awesomeness to yourself!
Peters recommends taking on freelance projects to meet new people and hone your skills further. This could take the form of writing a column if you’re good at writing, speaking at community panels if you’re a good speaker or getting a column in the local paper if you’re good at writing.Of course, these are just examples that you can tweak to apply to your particular situation.
Being Brand You doesn’t end when you’re giving a talk or writing a column. It’s also not about learning to be a flawless ‘schmoozer’. Each act of yours has a multiplier effect so it’s important to watch the way you handle phone conversations, and email interactions. These days even how you handle yourself on social media platforms count.
Peters thinks that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most important branding vehicles and you wouldn’t want to someone’s secretary commenting that you were rude to them.
The final and most important points to building Brand You is incorporating the exercise into your life. Brand You becomes less of a task when it revolves around your passions and the things you value.
Gianpiero Petriglieri, an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD wrote an interesting article about Turning Your Career into a Work of Art. Petriglieri believes that success isn’t about making a living or becoming famous and acclaimed. It’s about unsettling the status quo. Cue Steve Jobs and Oprah.
He suggests finding “identity workspaces”. “These are groups or organizations where we can both acquire valuable expertise from others and also address fundamental questions with others. Identity workspaces are communities that help us discover who we are, where we belong, what we can do and how we are meant to do it. You might be able to do this at work, if not you can find other groups that can do this for you.”
To help you streamline your thinking in terms of values that matter to you and managing skills you build, Peters suggests resume management. “Instead of a static list of titles held and positions occupied, your marketing brochure brings to life the skills you’ve mastered, the projects you’ve delivered, the braggables you can take credit for. And like any good marketing brochure, yours needs constant updating to reflect the growth — breadth and depth — of brand You.”
Recommended reading: How Will You Measure You Life by Clayton Christensen