Who are you? Do you know how others view you? Do you care? David Ogilvy describes brand as "the intangible sum of a product's attributes." OK, this sounds a little jargonish so let's explain this in simple terms--your brand is how others perceive you.
Your task, if it is important for you and your company is to influence that perception of how others view you and your company? That's right, you AND your company. More and more your personal brand is a natural extension or influencer of your company's brand.
The older you are, the more you have little interest in forming a personal brand (though I would argue one already exists for you). Your brand is based on who you do business with, who you interact with, what those people think of you and most importantly what others see from you on a daily basis.
Here are 7 areas that you can address today to change, alter, improve how others perceive you:
- How you dress. Formal or informal? Free T-Shirts or designer jeans? Or both?
- What events you attend. Meetups or just societal events?
- Who you interact with at those events. Stand in the corner or shake everyone's hand?
- What blogs you read. Far-right propaganda, industry newsletters or Buzzfeed?
- What subjects you respond to. Comments on blogs, conversation in groups, or stay silent?
- What you write about (blogs, books, etc.). You don't write or you have a blog?
- What you do every day. Work at what you love, or punch the clock?
Your choices in these areas dictate a certain personal brand that others will use to frame their thoughts of you. You can influence that perception with a coordinated set of individual choices across these seven areas.
For example, 5 years ago when I was launching The Startup Factory, I knew that I needed to be more connected with startup entrepreneurs. Not that I was a suit person anyhow, but my dress choices migrated to jeans, T-shirts and casual footwear. When I am speaking in front of a large audience in a keynote or panel opportunity, I have my uniform (black T-shirt, jeans and leather shoes). This is very intentional. It is part of my brand. It is how I want people to perceive me.
As an investor in predominantly software startups, it is important for me to attend meetups, networking events, socials, college & university speaking asks ALL around these type of attendees. I vote with my feet and these are the events I need to be at so that others see me as a player in this space. With a limited number of evenings available to me, I shy away from fundraisers, black tie events, etc. My audience is not there.
At these events, my primary goal is to find the potential startup founders. It's not that hard to find them with just a little conversation starter.
I read every day from a list of people I look up to and their thoughts help influence my conversations that week. Did you read Fred Wilson's post today is a common question. In addition to what I read, I blog 2-3 times per week. This is my voice and probably the most critical area where I dictate who I am and what I stand for.
Let me be very clear, I think about all seven of these areas and am very intentional about my choices there, all of which add up to a personal brand.