One of the ways to exit that limiting environment is to brand yourself. If you do not brand yourself you may remain in an environment where you no longer belong for a very long time. You will see the people who need what you have but they may refuse to have dealings with you.
I have learnt in life that what you are selling is just as important as how you present it to the people who need to buy it. If you are selling something o value and you put in in a package that isn’t befitting, many people will not be willing to buy. That’s because they will see the cover before they see the content of what you’re buying.
There are several people in the world who have been able to transit from a limited background into their desired future because of how they package or brand themselves. When you see people advertising a product online, one of the things they are trying to do is to control how you perceive that product. Once your perception of the product is controlled, you will begin to see that product in a new light and decide to buy the product or even recommend the product to other people.
While this simple marketing strategy is used to sell products, it can also be effectively used to market your skills and competencies to those who need them. I have had the opportunity to work with several people and I can tell you how I also made the mistake of hoping that my skills will suffice in the decision-making process for some business owners to do business with me. I was more than shocked when they chose to do business with some less qualified or less skilful people.
For years, I focused more on my content and skills with very little improvement on the package. It cost me so much at critical points before I started adjusting to the fact that people are going to do business with you based on perceptions of you. People will recommend you based on perceptions. People will also open doors for you based on perceptions.
If you are not sure what I am talking about, just pay attention to how you are treated in public places by security officers when next you go to a store or shopping malls. Pay attention to how you are treated by these security officers at the banks and other offices that you visit. Dress casually on the first day and be a little nonchalant about your look. Then go to the same place on another day looking elegant and successful. The difference in treatment will show you how appearance alone and decide how far you can go in life.
What’s the point here? You have to make deliberate attempts to create a perception for yourself and ensure this perception will help push you out of your limiting background into the desired future.
You can also take a look at many successful corporations all over the world. These organisations are already successful but they are still managing their perceptions through great Public Relations agencies and strong ad agencies that are helping them to run strategic campaigns. These campaigns are well thought out and are planned to make sure the organisations continue to enjoy goodwill with the people.
Many organisations do not take for granted their brand because the way they are perceived will determine if they will succeed or continue to succeed in their industry. That’s the same thing for human beings. As an individual, you cannot just hope to break grounds despite backgrounds. You must carefully manage your brand. You have to work hard at creating a well thought out brand that will position you as you should be rightly positioned.
You are either going to get in the way of your success or make your own success easier by the kind of brand you create for yourself. This is not the time to think you don’t care if people like you. You may not really care if they like you but you still have to manage how they perceive you. If people are contesting elections, one major thing they manage before getting into the elective office is their perception.
I have been in a position to decide who to work with on some occasions and I can confidently tell you that among the competent people that I know, I still chose those who managed their personal brands well. For those who did not manage their personal brands well, I still did some things with them but I knew the kind of jobs I could take to them. I couldn’t take to them the big jobs of my big clients.
You have to come to terms with the fact that your brand is not just about having a beautiful logo and a nice combination of colours. Those are nice and over time, people will see those icons and remember you. But the bigger issue is what actually comes to the mind of people when they see you or those icons that represent you. I was teaching a class on personal branding some years back and I did a little exercise.
During the class, the participants randomly chose one person to step out for a while and the other participants gave their opinions of the person who stepped out. The participant who stepped out was asked to return to the class and hear the opinions of other people about him or her. Some were shocked. Others were in denial and a few people agreed the other participants were right.
Do you want to know your brand? Simply ask people to define what they think of you or how they perceive you in three different words. They have to be words and not sentences. If these words do not align with how you define yourself then you should know that you have not started working on your brand. It could also be that you have been working on the wrong perception for yourself and you need to change that now.
What are the things you should be paying attention to in order to help your personal brand?
- Your name and reputation – While you may not be able to change your name, it is important to note that in some cases, how your name sounds, feel or the memories it evokes can work for or against you. That is where reputation also comes in. Some people have had encounters with you and they carry that with them either for good or for bad. Whenever your name pops up, a memory is displayed in their minds and they will decide, based on past experiences, to either proceed or terminate appointments with you. You need to be careful about the experiences you are creating right now with people because that’s what they will use to judge future relationships. You may not be able to rewrite the past but you have to do everything nor to further damage your name if you already have in some places. Your name is a brand and you must never forget that.
- Physical appearance – Your physical appearance is a brand too and you must always take care of yourself. You should never be caught looking untidy. You should never go to any event dressed carelessly. You don’t know the people who are watching you and the people you are going to meet at those events. It is important to remember that you may be getting a one in a lifetime opportunity to make a first impression. There is never a second chance to make a first impression and you can’t squander the first one. Depending on what you do, please note that you may need to invest a fortune into looking good. I am not asking you to waste money on very expensive dresses. Sometimes, all you need is the knowledge to combine the right clothes and make sure you’re wearing the right sizes. At other times, all you need is to make sure the clothes are well laundered. These are simple things that matter and can determine if you get a chance to speak to the one who will transform your life or not.
- Etiquette – It is important to learn social behaviours that are generally acceptable or not. You need to master the things you can do in public and how to do them versus the things that can only happen in your closet. You must understand that there are words you can use in public and there are words you cannot. How you speak determines how you’re perceived. I am sure you have been a situation where you can hear the voices of some people in your head even when they are not around you. You can even mimic them and be right about their reactions to certain circumstances. Your mannerisms are pivotal to your success. You should never over gesticulate. Never be too forward or loud. Observe before you act because you are either giving a good impression or a bad impression that that restrain you into a limited background or take you out of one.
- Social Media – with every key you strike on social media, you are creating a brand. Every picture you post on social media is helping you to form a brand. Every video you post or repost is helping you to form a brand. The news you share and contribute to or the thoughts you share are the windows into your minds and all we need is to take a look at your posts to determine what your dominant thoughts are. That’s why Facebook will ask you, ‘What’s on your mind?’ That’s not an ordinary question waiting in the column where you are to make a post! That’s actually something that says you should tell the world what you have been thinking about and that’s what many people do unconsciously on social media. Now is the time for you to do a social media audit to determine if what you have been posting helps the brand you will like to be known for or it destroys that brand. Your social media content must align with the brand that you are to be known for.
- Known skills or competencies – What are your known skills or competences? That’s one of the ways you build a brand. People have to see you and say this is the skill that stands out. We know that when we give you this thing to do, you either the best or one of the best on the job. There’s hardly a better way to build a quick reputation and name than excelling at what you do. When you stand out at what you do and pay attention to packaging or appearance, success is guaranteed. You have to identify a skill you already have or one that needs to be developed for you to stand out. It is not something to joke with if you will stand out or break from your limiting backgrounds. You cannot be known and not have a known skill.
Why do you think air hostesses and the staff in standard hotels across the world are given special training? It is simple. They want all the guests in the hotel and the people on the flight to have an experience. That experience is what forms the brands in the minds of the people.
Now when people experience you, what kind of brand forms in their minds? That will be critical to your success or continuous limitation. Your brand can help you break new and higher grounds or keep you within your undesirable background.