And in my opinion, it’s very important to know what your brand is. But what is a brand anyway? One of my favourite games when training media sales people is ‘define the word ‘brand’ without using the word ‘thing’. Try it. Can you do it?
The term ‘a badge of reassurance’ has been used and is one of my favourite definitions, but in terms of YOU as a brand, consider it as a word or and idea or a position in the mind. Your position in my mind if you like. (This book is the perfect to aid your understanding in this area)
We need these positions, these brands, to help us make sense of the overwhelming world we live in. The first time we consume something we analyse it and score and rate and understand it. Given our brains processing power, an awful lot of effort goes into this understanding of a new thing. We intuitively understand that if we re did this process every time we came across repeated experience we would quickly wear ourselves out!
So what we do to replace this repeated analysis is to label things, or brand them, give them a small place in our mind to allow to us quickly recall what we think or know about this thing that has presented itself to us. ‘Oh yes’ we think, ‘I know what this is’ and then we can move our attention on to different matters. In today’s world of the never-ending bombardment of communication, it’s the only way to survive.
Incidently, I’ve read that this explains why we feel our childhood was an idyllic time of tranquility where everything took an age to come to pass. ‘Three months to Christmas!’ we’d cry, thinking that three months was an eternity. Now as adults, months are no better than minutes used to be to us! Time flies along..
As children we are constantly using our full processing power to allocated words and ideas to the endless supply of new things we come across – it takes the brain time and energy to do this. Hence time goes by so slowly. As an adult we simply recognise ‘the brand’ of the thing we are looking at / hearing / tasting etc. and immediately use this as a map of to how to react.
It takes a lot less time, so time appears to us to go faster. Want to slow down the world? Simply take more time. More time to analyse things. More time to think about what we are experiencing. Don’t let stuff wash over you in an endless search for the next input.
So this is where we find ourselves personally. As brands in the minds of people we know, people we deal with on a daily basis. Further, depending on the interaction you’ve had with someone, the amount of effort they have put into the analysis of you may not be favourable. The old adage ‘first impressions last’ is as true today as ever. And if that ‘impression’ of you is the wrong one, or at least one you would rather they didn’t have, then you’re in trouble.
Be very aware of this the first time you meet people. What brand do you want to create for yourself? What ‘impression’ are you going to leave? It’s hard to know, but really important.
Ask some people you trust to tell you what they think your brand is. Ask them to be gentle! You may not like the answer. It can be a painful process but one that is essential if you are to develop self-awareness, one of the corner stones of emotional intelligence.
And do things that exaggerate your brand. Its easier for people meeting you the first time to quickly ‘position’ you correctly in their minds for future consideration. Tell people what you’d like them to consider about you. You may at this point be completely unsubtle! ‘I’m very hard working’ repeated often enough will become the ‘truth’ before you know it.
But warning – be authentic! You cannot pretend to be what you are not, at least not for any length of time. And when the people you meet unravel the misdirection, and get to bottom of the real you, you’re in more trouble then when you started. Because now your brand is tainted or sullied in some way.
You are a brand. Right now, without even trying. So the more you know about that, and the quicker you learn to do something about it the better!