Your Brand

I recently had someone ask me, “What’s your brand?” My first reaction was negative. I don’t have a brand, and I have never consciously worked at fashioning a brand. Professionals especially don’t like to think of themselves as “brands”. It reeks of narcissism.

But then I started thinking about it, and I talked to friends and colleagues about the idea of a brand, and I have changed my mind. The truth is, we all have ‘brands’ of one kind or another. Some may be stronger and longer lasting than others, but we all have “labels” and shortcuts for the way we describe and define each other. Brands can be individual people, organizations or even geographical regions. Just a few examples:
  • The Minnesota Vikings — ‘Purple Pride’ and 50 years of heart ache
  • Prince – the Purple One — formerly known as “Prince”, the non-brand brand
  • The Mayo Clinic — World class health care on the prairie – started by two brothers
  • Minnesota — the frozen tundra, no… the good life (sometimes brands conflict)

Gov. Wendell Anderson in 1973 – Minnesota the state with the “good life”

Six years after this Time article appeared, I moved from California to Minnesota, brands work! Personal brands are often short and simple: “She is a comedian.” “He’s an arrogant jerk.” “A classy dresser.” “Warm hearted helper.” “Gets things done.” “You know where you stand with him.” “She’s a Saint.”

What you do defines your brand. You don’t have to, nor should you work on your brand. You will be defined by your deeds. The history of your work is your brand.

Why is it important to know about branding? Organizations rise and fall on it. Individuals too. People judge you, they make inferences about you. Many of these interpretations are superficial and fleeting. Some last a lifetime. Our values and beliefs define us, and they are demonstrated in our behavior. It’s what we say and do that people see. Are you doing good things? What are you good at? What’s your brand?