I don’t always feel like I ‘get’ personal branding. I think it’s because of my theatre background. Most theories of acting are either 1) you inhabit and become the character who is completely different from you or 2) you play the character as your full intimate self inside that situation. One is about layers of artifice, the other about stripping it away. I wasn’t very good at the chameleon approach but found more satisfaction in trying to be much more authentically myself – this also came out in my playwriting and directing work.
Branding = Consistency
I’ve always thought the word branding could best be described as ‘consistency’. How you are perceived by customers, colleagues, prospects, journalists and how they interact with you in all formats at all points in the marketing, sales, purchase and delivery process – all of these things – are aligned and consistent.
In Your Mythic Journey, Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox look at the stories that we tell and how they reflect the world around us and the life inside us. What stories do people tell about you? What stories do you tell about yourself? What stories did your parents tell about you?
Example: My parents are both teachers so we grew up with a certain amount of expectations of education and achievement. I was taught that education is a ladder and you don’t just say ‘I’m bad at math’ – you bust your ass until you get that A. I never really considered myself a true ‘musician’ even though I studied classical piano for 14 years. It was just a part of me. Something that I did. Other kids’s parents would come up to mom and dad after a recital or the National Junior Honor Society and tell them ‘Andy and Heather are so talented – you must be so proud!’ And mom and dad’s response was always: ‘They work very hard.’ Sure we all have things that come naturally to us but for everything else there’s hard work.
Example: When I was very young I went to the orchestra with my grandparents and grandma asked me which instrument I wanted to play and I pointed to the conductor’s podium and said I wanted to be that guy. And I still love ‘conducting’ and ‘facilitating’ a team to creative achievement.
Example: I expressed a rather tart viewpoint on a business decision at work and a co-worker saracastically remarked ‘You know, the thing about Andy is you’re never sure exactly what he thinks.’ (In the Wibbels family, bluntness is answered with ‘But how do you really feel?’)
The Stories Others Tell About You
Your personal brand is the stories that people tell about you to others.
I was going to say the stories you tell about yourself – but the ones that others remember and re-tell are connected to the core of how you are perceived.
1) How do your friend talk about you to their friends? ‘Oh my God, I have this friend and this one time he…’
2) How do your customers talk about you to their friends? ‘You’ve got give my buddy a call… he’ll know exactly what you need…’
As Oscar Wilde said: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
What do others brag about you on your behalf? What stories do you tell about others on their behalf?