Why You're Branding Even When You Think You're Not

The following is the seventh in the series "Personal Branding For A Better Life," in which marketing expert Jim Joseph applies big brand marketing lessons to help you build a successful personal brand.

Think of someone in your life who has always been there for you no matter what. You come to rely on this person to help you get through life. What would happen if that person radically changed and was no longer the same? Suddenly something’s wrong and you don’t know what to do. The person you thought you knew so well is acting off-brand.

I have to be honest, this happens to me quite a lot. I’ve learned how to manage and build my brand as a result.

One of the key tenets of personal branding is the need to be consistent throughout all aspects of your life. If you’re not consistent, no one will be able to rely on you and you won’t be able to live the brand you’ve created. This may seem obvious, but it's more challenging than you might think. 

Here's an example from my own life. Over the years, I’ve developed a personal style that has become a bit of a signature -- my own brand style. I like to wear colorful shirts with patterns and stripes. I wear jeans with a sports coat instead of a formal suit. I accessorize with scarves and hats. I’m a bit of a clotheshorse, you could say, and people have come to expect that from me. Consistently. It’s not high fashion by any means, but I do have a certain style that reflects my personal brand. I do this consciously.

Every once in a while I purposefully change it up, just to experiment. Sometimes I throw on a suit because I haven’t had the time to pick out an outfit that day and sometimes I wear a solid colored shirt because it’s just easier. The other day I went for a “preppy college” look and people gave me odd glances all day long.

They didn't like it. In fact, they dislike it so much that they comment on it. “Are you feeling ok?” “What happened?” The same set of questions, over and over.

While we are specifically talking about behavior and clothing here, consistency in branding applies to all aspects of your brand including all of the choices you make along the way. You need to apply your brand consistently to each and every situation so that people know what to expect from you.

Let your brand be your guide at every turn.

Every time I’m in a tough situation and I’m not sure how to behave, I look to how I’ve defined my brand and respond consistently with it. When I’m working with people who are particularly difficult, rather than confront them and cause conflict, I respond consistently with how I’ve built my brand to create consensus and foster collaboration. It’s just my brand.

When I see an off-color post in social media, I take a moment to think about how I should respond in a way that people would expect from me. I try to keep a consistent voice and tone throughout all of my posts and comments.

In social situations, I ask myself how I want to be perceived and what my goals are for any given event. This dictates how I dress, what I drink and whom I interact with. If the goal is pure fun, then that’s one approach, but if the goal is industry networking, then that is another entirely. Either way, I enter as my brand.

Remember that every interaction makes up the totality of your brand. Consistency is key to making sure your brand stays true to how you’ve defined it and what people expect from you.

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