Professional branding is one way we’re recognised and draw or repel business. Do you remember seeing those brave souls standing on the sidewalks, wearing billboards or chicken suits, beckoning you to come inside their business and buy their burgers? That’s kind of like you and me, only we’re the billboard and you’re wearing a different kind of suit.
We’re brand ambassadors. That’s why so many popular TV shows in recent years are gaining attention. They’re combining high end suits, lifestyle and ethics in a package, which in turn is selling a service or communicating a message. You’re the BRAND.
- Definition of a Brand N. Unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind.
|“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
– Jeff Bezos
The commercial world thrives on brand recognition. Coca Cola, McDonalds, IBM, Apple, Fedex. The brand is only as effective as the product it sells and the people who serve there.
The ‘dis-service’ to an organisation’s brand occurs when the employee’s behaviour does not line up with the customers’ expectation. The company has a brand. They have made a significant financial investment in developing a marketplace presence that includes stationery, advertising, website, uniforms, signage, and…you.
YOU’RE A BILLBOARD
You, the employee, are the walking billboard for your company. If you’re representing your business, organisation or church in any capacity, you’re representing the Brand.
Some customers may never access the internet or pickup a brochure. Some potential students or community members may never go to your school or enter your church because of appearances. You may be the only thing they know about the organisation you represent. How you speak of the business, talk about the product or extol the values of the personnel, will influence an individual’s ‘buying and buy-in’ decision.
WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER THIS AND ITS’ AFFECT ON YOU
In answer to your W.I.I.F.M. (What’s In It For Me) question, you’ll see the following unfold in your work-life:
- achieve greater referrals from your clients
- achieve increased sales conversions
- achieve increased job satisfaction
- achieve positive marketplace positioning by your company
- achieve excellent feedback at your annual performance reviews
- achieve longevity of employment and promotion
- encourage your team’s development
- enhance your workplace culture
- make your boss look good to the board, and
- impact your community for the greater good.
It does seem to make sense: You want to stand out because of who you are, the work you do and the difference you make; not because you’re awful.
Want to turn up the feel good factor and focus on what IS in your control?
Your Branding Checklist – some practical tips to help you stand out for the right reasons…
- Attitude: a ‘can-do’ willingness to go the extra mile and join in unity for the success of the business and to have a positive impact on clients
- Language: every word implies “I’m with you on this journey and I want us all to succeed.” No swearing, snide remarks, red-faced temper outbursts, or false accusations.
- Suits, Trousers, & Shirts: Clean, ironed, in good repair AND appropriate to your industry
- Uniform: wear it the correct way, in good repair
- Hair: clean, cut to suit position or type of work – no mullets please (but that’s a personal bias I admit)
- Face: clean shaven (for the men) and washed – unshaven faces only look good when you’re fishing on vacation.
- Piercings & Tattoos: unless you’re on NCIS or work at a body art parlour, keep these respectful. Also check your organisation’s PP&P regarding this
- Shoes: Safety first for the tradesmen (and women – rubber soles only for casual or nonslip environments; no broken heels, peeling leather, or broken zippers
- Laptop: take your personal photos off the screensavers BEFORE you show your presentation, unless you have a casual relationship with the audience or it adds to your introduction
- Workspace: clearly defined work areas, orderly filing and completion areas. No confidential data to be left out in view of unauthorised individuals. Clear desk. Clear mind.
- Car: if you travel with your work, maintain the vehicle mechanically and keep it clean, inside AND out.
- Socially Smart: Safeguard your reputation online and be wise about what you share and post
- Execution: Honour your word, complete the functions of your role and the emerging responsibilities as effectively and timely as you can. If you come across obstacles make sure you’re keeping people in the loop.
Feeling a Little Strung Out?
Don’t let your reputation slide. Engage an external 3rd party and gain a fresh perspective and keep a short account with a few key people you trust. Let them speak into your life and highlight if it seems you’re becoming more reactionary or allowing yourself to be emotionally hijacked. Or if you’re beginning to look like a freaky wild man or woman and you’ve stopped taking care of your health or presentation. That should definitely be a give away.
If you need to, apply for leave and make sure you gain some much needed downtime.
Burnout is a sign you’ve been doing way too much for way too long. Take a look in the mirror. How are you really feeling about this? What’s your reflection saying back to you? You’re both a message and a messenger.
The Final Word
The final word on branding goes to Rachel Quilty, the author of “Brand Yourself” and a past guest at the Professional Speakers Australia Queensland Chapter Meeting. Rachel’s advice goes, “Branding should confirm your confidence, vitality, and competency. Your presentation should not get in the way of your message.
It begs the question, what are you saying?”
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