I hear a lot of talk about building one’s personal brand. In a mentoring community of which I am a part the majority of the participants are “working on their brand.” When I coach employees and others, the subject of brand comes up often. Usually when people are wanting to work on their brand it is because they want to improve their place in life. They want more influence, more power, more money, more responsibility…more! The key is that they believe that by improving their brand…the identity and characteristics that others attribute to them when they think about them…they will get the “more” that they are looking for.
I don’t challenge these premises. I think they are right. What I do challenge is the idea that I can change my brand without really changing. For a brand to be believable it has to be real.
In the June 2004 issue of the Harvard Business Review, in an article titled Collective Genius, Lucas de Meo of Volkswagen is quoted as saying “you build a brand from the inside out.” While de Meo was talking about the brand of a corporation, his statement applies very clearly to the individual brand that you and I are building for ourselves. If I am going to build a brand that will allow me to speak into the lives of others, become a go to person in my organization, or be tagged as the next director in my group, then I must start the construction in my heart and in my mind. I must build my brand from the inside out.
When individuals tell you what their brand is, but yet that brand isn’t self-evident and flowing from their core, then their words are just that, words. In fact, if I have to tell you what my brand is, then it likely isn’t really my brand…yet. It can become my brand, but it must become my brand deep inside me. When it does, I won’t have to tell others what it is, they will just know.
What’s your brand? Are you building it from the inside out?