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The Brand of Your Self


I came across a commencement speech by Paul Rand of the Zócalo Group (just passing attribution, I don’t know him) to Northwestern University graduates via another blog by Brian Solis.  The title of the speech was Living a Recommendable Life.  A lead-in happened to be a quote from Jeff Bezos stating “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”  Paul’s primary point is that we are all brands. Much as a company’s brand determines how others recommend it and think of it, our personal brands do the same for us. How we present ourselves to others, stand for our ideals, and act in various situations all affect our brand. That brand affects much in our life and drives whether people recommend us for jobs, existing work, socially, and so forth.

I’ve written some about the connection of your digital self and your true self. They’re really facets of who you are. And, of course, it’s fine to have multiple facets to who you are. What these facets and selves do and say adds up to what people think of you. What you say certainly means a lot, but what you do means even more. If you think of a brand name you’ve had a good experience with, you likely associate a good service encounter or a product that blew you away. Conversely, a negative thought when you hear a company’s name probably means you’ve had a dud of a product that they haven’t stood behind. Even if you have had a negative experience, if the company owned up to it and took responsibility then there’s a strong chance you’ll give them a second chance. People are very similar to companies in this branding aspect. There’s nobody to pass the buck to though. It stops with you.

Being aware of who you are and what you stand for is the place to start on your brand. That’s the way good companies focus and act and it makes sense for individuals too. It’s worth it to do some self-reflection occasionally and see if you’re really following up on who you think you are. Do your daily interactions really represent who you think you are?  Do the choices you make reinforce that image to others?  Another great quote comes from Bill Parcells, the famous football coach/guru. He was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys who had lots of talent with the big expectations that come along for the ride.  When they fell short, Coach Parcells said, “You are what your record says you are.” All the hype, swagger, and expectations didn’t matter when success didn’t happen. It was his way of taking responsibility and saying that they really weren’t a playoff team that year.  The brand and reality were out of synch at that point in time.

Bill Parcells

There have been multiple studies I’ve read about customer experience and brand loyalty lately. Here is an Infographic on one from Neilsen. They may have different numbers but they all say what I pointed out above. People recommend brands they trust and can count on. Other people trust individuals whom they count on more than advertising and more than what they read. Individual experiences and votes of confidence cut through the fog and show what’s tangible. Since you’re reliant on other people to give you that vote, isn’t it worth it to lead a life worth recommending?

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