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!

  1. John
    John says:

    This is so true about a number of ‘personality presenters’. Chris Evans, Chris Moyles, Simon Bates, they all represent a brand. You rather buy into that or you don’t based on your experience of and enjoyed of what they deliver. Just because you don’t like a brand, it does not mean it is not popular. In fact, a lot of brands succeed because of what they are NOT, rather than what they ARE.

    On a personal level, the brand is about what you stand for. Do you do what you say, do you deliver what you promise. A brand that lets people down is not one that lasts very long. Respect, personality, loyalty and honesty. You need at least one, probably two to get anywhere in life

  2. damiandowling
    damiandowling says:

    The personality brands you discuss are hugely interesting John, and very complex. As you mentioned, they need not be popular either, but these people certainly stand for something.
    You yourself, if you don’t mind me saying are a great example of a personal brand. I know from experience how people believe they know you when they have barely spent any time with you based on their understanding of your profile, and other peoples perspective of you, your brand if you like.
    I also know the reality of your private ‘personal’ brand is subtly different from the public ‘personal’ brand, and thats what makes these types of brands so interesting to me i think.
    And i fully agree, Authenticity (as I’ve said) respect, loyalty, honesty are essential to build personal brands that deliver value for their ‘owners’ out there in the big bad world. Words I think everyone would associate with your personal brand as it happens
    Thanks as always for taking to time to comment, I look forward to many others!

  3. Thembinkosi
    Thembinkosi says:

    We live in perception times, you are who people perceive you to be what ever you put out there as and of yourself matters a great deal. And I totally agree that we are BRANDS like it or not it is a fact.

  4. duanechristensen
    duanechristensen says:

    Good stuff.
    When you figure out your REAL brand, marketing and advertising will be a heck of a lot easier for you.

    I asked my clients to tell me what they thought I “did” for them. I said, “I’m getting new business cards, and I need to know what I should call myself.” I received some great feedback! Whoa! It’s an eye opener to find out what you REALLY do for your clients.

    What was the winning title that I’m putting on my business card? “Radio Counselor”
    One of my radio clients, Dr. Doug Anderson of Sioux Falls Psychological Services suggested it. Thanks Doug!

    Now, when I hand out a business card, I’ve got a short story to tell them about the “Radio Counselor” title. Do you think that will help me be remembered?…and BRANDED more effectively? I do.

    Anyway…great post!

    • damiandowling
      damiandowling says:

      I love that! Asking clients what to put on your cards, great idea! And as you say, a real eye opener. I commend you! I would consider Radio Counsellor the ideal ‘position’ to claim in terms of what you sell too. My own experience suggests that clients need help as much as anything else, and if you have managed to create that level of relationship with them, and that brand identity for what you do, then more power to you!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it