Brand Yourself – Essential to Your Success

A young mother visited Mahatma Gandhi and complained that she was attempting for a long time to make her son quit eating too many sweets and sugar. Like each mother, she was deeply concerned with the consequences of sugar taking that might harm his health. Taking into account his reputation, she asked Gandhi if he would speak with her son about his eating sugar in the hopes that the words of that great man would encourage the young boy to stop eating sugar. She was surprised when Gandhi said to her: Come back in three months, because I need to prepare myself to speak with the boy about his eating sugar.It elicited great interest of the people living in her community and broader area and many of them wondered why he needed three months to prepare himself for that task.Various rumours spread and everyone interpreted and speculated about the reasons for such an act.After three months, in the presence of a large number of people, Gandhi sat beside the boy and in a simple way explained to him that sugar was not good for his health, and that he would be bigger, stronger and healthier if he consumed it less or none. The boy agreed to begin the journey of not eating sugar and from that moment on he reduced the consumption of sweets and finally completely quit eating them. Noticeably surprised, the woman thanked Gandhi for his wisdom, compassion, and words and then asked him why he needed three months to prepare for such simple message. Gandhi replied profoundly: “Reputation by itself is not sufficient. Upon your visit two weeks ago, I too was eating sugar.” And he went on to explain that he could not speak of or teach the young boy to not eat sugar if he himself had not taken that journey.Imagine that you wake up one morning and in daily newspapers, in the column on stock exchange quotations, find along with regular issues also your name. Exactly, your name is like a share on the stock market.Now ask yourself, how many people would demand, not to use the term “purchase” for its potential inadequate connotation, your share, meaning you, at which price, to which extent and why?This is exactly what are we talking about when it comes to one’s own brand. There are numerous definitions of brand. Essentially, a personal brand is a synonym for your reputation. It indicates the way other people see you.Each of us is a brand, whether being aware of it or not.The simplest way of finding out your personal brand is playing a game of association. Write your name on a piece of paper. Then, without thinking, write below three words that immediately evoke associations of you, for instance: reliable, professional, positive, entrepreneurship, books, etc.Look at all three associations and circle one, just one word that you believe people would call up immediately upon hearing you name.Thereupon, ask, without sharing the associations with them, a broader circle of friends, family members, neighbours, experts, chiefs, fellow workers, etc., to do the same and hand it out to you or, even better, to put it in a mail box, anonymously, so that they can remain to the very end honest with you, having no fear that you may get angry or misinterpreted the things they have written.Always bear in mind that feedback is the breakfast of champions.Review all associations and compare them with yours. Pay special attention to that one you and others have circled.In that sense, “Your personal brand is about what other people think about you, it’s not what you think about yourself.”Good news is that the personal brand may be built up and founded in a way and direction you wish.To achieve that, we will follow a simple three C’s of personal branding consisting of: clarity, creation and consistency.C- Clarity – it may be the most important phase in your personal brand building since here you lay down a cornerstone of your future personal brand. After we’ve got to know how others see us, we should define our fundamental life values and get answer to the question: who are we, what do we believe in, what values do we cherish..? At this stage you have to be completely honest with yourself since just a brand which is in line with your life principles and philosophy may become and remain authentic.Then we have to make clear: Who are we? What is our occupation? What is our field of activity? What are we currently the best at? What would we like to do in future? What would we like to differentiate us from the pack? It is an imperative here to define USP (unique selling proposition), that one thing, just a single thing, whichh makes us different from others, that makes us unique.I had made a close and friendly contact with Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and a developer of the concepts of microcredit and microfinance, before he became the Nobel Peace Prize recipient. At a conference in Paris, he revealed to me in a long conversation how he defined his USP.Yunus is a doctor of economic sciences and graduated from the one of the most prestigious world schools. However, it by itself was not sufficient for achieving success. Science of economics and business covers a very broad area so he had to choose particular specialization. He decided to do specialization in economic development field.Subsequently, just like medical doctors or lawyers, architects and other professionals, he should define his sub-specialization. He chose the poverty field as a global phenomenon and something he was grown up with; something his country had been fighting against for years.Within that phenomenon USP, something unique he would be recognized for, should be defined. He realized that the then economic concepts do not affect positively the lives of the poor from his surroundings.Carefully observing, he learned that more than 99% of all businesses in the world developed economies fall under the domain of the so-called small and medium-size enterprises, and even 92% of all business accounts for the so-called microenterprises which at average employ only two persons.Through exploring in his country and beyond, he found out that the biggest problem the poor faced with was a lack of access to financial resources for start-up, maintenance and further expansion of their business. Commercial banks with the resources available had no response to that niche market; therefore, a completely different approach was needed.It started as an experiment which has been later transformed into a global world movement. It was 40 years ago that Yunus lent out of his own pocket 27 dollars to a group of poor women who made furniture out of bamboo. All 42 women, without exception, returned the loan, earning at the same time some additional money for their families. Yunus learned that a small, almost symbolic, loan may regain dignity and encourage people to assume responsibility for their own lives.He founded the Grameen Bank which disbursed around six million of loans. This innovative and beneficial approach to a global problem solving has led to the nowadays situation where more than a billion of people world-wide use micro-loans and over $100 billion is used for crediting micro businesses as one of the fastest-growing industries world-wide.Bearing in mind the importance of microfinance instruments in fulfilment of their mission, the United Nations declared the year 2005 as the International Year of Microcredit. In 2006, Muhamad Yunus received the Nobel Prize for microlending, economic development, reduction of poverty and world peace, and his book “Banker of the Poor” defeated all records of sales worldwide and was translated in almost all world languages.Even though this industry has produced meanwhile a great number of first-rate professionals, famous names and undisputed authorities, the name of Muhammad Yunus is even today the synonym and the most identifiable brand when it comes to microloans, or the first association evoked when hearing the word “microloan”.C – Create. When you find out what brand you would wish to have, we have to define the steps to be undertaken in order to create it.I would like to ask you to insert your name in your search provider of choice and see what turns up.If you name pulls up no information- you should not be upset about it since it gives you an opportunity to create your new brand from the beginning. If your name pulls up some information, the steps would be the same but in such a situation you would deal with the upgrading, re-branding or re-designing of your existing brand.Basically, there are two key channels for promoting your brand- online and offline.OnlineWe live in the era of information technologies. It would be impossible and irresponsible not to follow that relentless trend. Be sure that it is the first step that someone will make in order to check on you for any purposes- whether to employ you, make a business contact with you or decide to accept or not your invitation for coffee or lunch.Internet is a powerful and also the cheapest media for creation and promotion of your brand. Here I will mention just few channels and basic rules for using them for the said purpose:Facebook ( Facebook is certainly the most dominant social networking service. It is unbelievable how many persons have Facebook accounts and do not use them properly. Basic rule is that all is monitored, absolutely all. You should fill in not only basic data but also the data required in all available sections. As you are doing that, ask yourself: What message you are sending to the people who would visit your account. The photographs you post should be decent and reflect your personality, that is, the message you want to send to others. Complete your curriculum vitae in great details and make it interesting.Selection of music, movies, serials, quotes, things you like, speak about you a lot and it provides you with an ideal opportunity to define by yourself, step by step, your new brand. A fundamental rule is to connect with as many persons as possible, to update your account on a regular basis, and share the things correspondent to the message you want to send and remove everything which might damage your brand.Twitter ( Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets”, which are actually text messages. The service has recently recorded an increasing worldwide popularity. Nowadays, anyone who cares of his personal promotion has an account on this social network. Share those links via other channels since your connection with these persons makes others perceive you as a successful person, that is, a brand worth introducing.Webpage (web site) and blog are in my opinion the most powerful form for promotion and building of the own brand.I have my web page where you can get acquainted with me in a very simple and interesting way, learn about my work and activities, or simply follow my blog where I post regularly the topics on success, and so get a chance to participate in the extremely vigorous, interesting and above all positive discussions and comments on the blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. It also contains the video recordings of my short presentations, the most popular quotes, stories, announcement of future topics, visits, and in general the activities you may participate, all free of charge.Use on-line promotion, take active part on forums under your full name, and make your appearances with the goal to be perceived and recognized in light of your new brand.Leave nothing to chance, let your social profiles speak for you, be proactive, positive, consistent and you will be surely noticed.OfflineHere we talk about the promotion in a real, not virtual world. Do you remember the story about Gandhi from the beginning of this chapter? Basic message is that you have to live your brand every day at every moment since just in that way you can reach the others.Look perfect – People are strongly visually-oriented.Some researchers found that people make major opinion on you in the first four seconds. Every day before leaving home ask yourself: What clothes, watch, phone, and pendant do I wear?How well you dressed are and what message do you send by your appearance?You will never get a second chance to make the first impression.All successful people I know pay great attention to their appearance and try to look the best they can in all situations. They leave nothing to chance. You never know, maybe just today when you are hoping the least, you will by pure accident bump into the person you want to meet for a long time and who is important for your success. I made some of my best contacts that later on helped me a lot in my job, at the airports.It repeatedly surprises me how people are carelessly dressed in this situation, given that almost all successful people travel a lot, that they have to wait frequently long hours at the airports because the flights are often being delayed and behind schedules which gives a good opportunity for making contacts with somebody who, in normal circumstances, would not have time for shaking hands, let alone to talk with you.Looking perfect, being among the well-groomed and dressed up people at a certain place will boost your self-confidence, reflect toward outside world a message of satisfaction, pride, positive energy and success, facilitating so your contact making or, at least helping you send a picture of your and your brand which you cherish so carefully.My intention here is not to give fashion tips but to stress the following: If you aim to be successful and recognizable and well-known for your success, you have to follow some basic rules in your line of business.Your appearance should be consistent with your occupation. So, if you belong to the business world your dressing should be conservative. Ideal colours for man’s suit are dark blue and gray; wear solid shirts and ties without loud colours and patterns; wear the ones which fit into an overall picture you want to communicate to other people.Ladies should wear business suits with the appropriate length skirt, maybe a scarf that compliments the suit; less is better, less jewellery and less colour.Use only a good and decent parfumes. Choose your shoes very carefully and make sure they are always polished and shined.Subtle, quality accessories (hand watch, mobile telephone, type of computer, bag) mean a lot and can show that you pay attention to important details.Hairstyle should be conservative and you should always be freshly shaved; look at yourself in a mirror and ask how you would like to be perceived by others and to what extent your appearance is in line with your brand.Just one additional tip: when buying clothes, spend twice as much, buy half as much.Go for quality over quantity. Follow the dressing styles of successful people, especially those who inspire you, and you will not make a mistake.Seminars and conferencesTry to find out a year ahead which seminars or conferences are in your market niche and their schedules- when and where.Attend those events, apply for them in advance and communicate with organizer and offer to participate as a speaker in one of the panel discussions or to take part in the very organization. Anyway, participate actively, ask questions and comment on the topics in line with you fields of interests. Make good preparation in advance, look like a person very familiar with the things a speaker talks about and very soon the news will be spread about you and your brand will become known and recognizable within the circle of people matters to you.Articles and mediaContact professional magazine and mass media. Introduce the editors and journalists. Offer to write a text on the topic you should be known for. As with the seminars and conferences, do not expect to be paid for that at the very beginning; payment will come later on, once you build up your personal brand when the price will not be even mentioned, and when the only thing that matters will be your response to their invitation.Start with the minor, less known magazines. Send your article along with your impeccably created CV to other influential newspapers, expressing your readiness to write or comment on something similar for their newspapers, at the time and place convenient to them. Be persistent and calls will come and with each new success, your brand becomes more and more recognisable and people talk about you in various circles, without you being aware.You continue to work on your promotion and all the sudden you become the brand you wish to be or the brand you wish to purchase for yourself.C – Consistency No brand has been created overnight. Brand building is a long-term investment which brings you a great potential. In your lifespan you can change companies, occupations and even the countries you work in, and your brand will always go with you, even before you.Building of a strong and consistent brand is time consuming process which requires patience, but most of all it requires consistency in everything you do, talk about, read, and visit. Your personal brand should always reflect your true personality, in other words, you have to live your personal brand.Your office, working room, books you have on shelves, the car your drive, the hotels you stay in, promises you give, each and every part of your life should be personification of your brand.Consistency is a trademark of big brands in the world, let it be the trademark of your brand too, of that famous stock “I” on life stock exchange which will many people demand because of its true value for what is not possible to determine the price.Verdi wrote his masterpiece AIDA. Nowadays, a lot of marketing professionals use the name of that masterpiece as the abbreviation for various things.I find it would be very convenient to use that abbreviation at the end of this chapter about branding as a set of steps you have to follow in order to make others to accept your brand, namely, to see you as you wish to be seen.A – Attention (firstly, grab people’s attention)I- initiative (take an initiative, be proactive, promote your new brand))D – Desire (arise in others a burning desire to recognize and talk about your brand)A – Action (finally, be ready for action once your new brand becomes recognizable, attractive, appreciated and too good to be ignored).

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