Last month I found myself on the receiving end of an email from a colleague who has an enormous portfolio of jobs and passions and who had decided that he needed to focus on the key ones so that he could build up his brand. The email asked me to comment on him using the questions listed below. I was so impressed with the questions that I asked him if I could use them in a posting here. He told me that they had been put together by a branding specialist called Jennifer Holloway. I have now met her and have been incredibly impressed by the brand statements that she has developed for my friend. I have invited her to share with you the approach that she takes. What follows is a guest posting from Jennifer. Have a look at her website too.
“There’s no denying we all have a brand – the combination of your reputation and image which defines who you are and how people perceive you. But do you realise just how powerful your brand can be? How using it as the basis for everything you say and do can have a real impact on your success? Because, whether you like it or not, people buy people before they buy what they’re selling.
So for those of you just beginning your portfolio career under the illusion it’s your skills and experience that will get you work – think again. Whilst you’re right that if you can’t deliver the goods you won’t get the job, a big part of the buyer’s decision will be based on the ‘packaging’ the goods come in. Or to put it more succinctly…what your brand is saying about you.
You can find out more about this in Barrie and Katie’s book, but for those about to undertake the journey to discover their brand, I’d like to impart an important lesson: for your brand to perform its magic on your success, it has to be authentic and to do that, you have to make sure that when you hold that mirror up, what you see is the same as what others see.
A great way to do this is to take Your 6 Step Reality Check© asking people a set of carefully worded questions aimed at revealing the truth about how you’re perceived.
Your 6 Step Reality Check©
1. What were your first impressions of me when we met?
2. How have those impressions changed with time?
3. What three words would you use to describe me?
4. How would you introduce me to someone in a business setting?
5. Overall, how would you describe my image (how I look and sound)?
6. What one behavioural or image trait might it be worth me changing?
When I do this with clients I send the questions on their behalf and compile the feedback into a report, so respondents can be entirely honest, safe in the knowledge their answers will remain anonymous. However, even if you’re asking the questions yourself, there’s still a lot to be gained – especially if you assure people their answers will be taken in the spirit intended. (You must then do this: if you’re not happy to hear some constructive feedback your brand can’t be authentic.)
The key thing is to ask people who are representative of the audiences you will be working with as part of your portfolio career – customers, staff, colleagues, suppliers, etc rather than family and friends.
When you have their feedback, compare their views to yours and ask yourself these questions: Where are the areas of agreement and where are the discrepancies? How do these fit with your view of your brand? Knowing that, what does your brand now look like, sound like and feel like?
In answering that, you’ll have started the journey to using the power of your brand to ensure people can be confident of buying ‘you’ and in turn what you’re selling – and that’s the key to success.”