Your Brand Is Everything
By Joe Calloway, author of Work Like You're Showing Off
June 2007 Your brand is everything. Don't think that just because you're not Nike or Coke that you don't have a brand. You ARE a brand.
Your brand is not your advertising. Your brand is not your logo. Your brand is not your company name. Your brand is not your product. Your brand may not be at all what you think it is. Your brand may not be what you intend for it to be. You do not own your brand.
Your brand is owned by your customers, the people you work with, and anyone else who has an impression of you. Your brand is other people's perception of what it's like to do business with you, work with you, or be with you.
Nothing is more important than your brand, because it's what defines you, regardless of the work you do. It has equal importance whether you are one employee of a worldwide company or a one person business working out of your home. It should be your top priority to build, protect, and represent your brand to the best of your ability in every interaction you have with others. The essence of building a strong brand is simply this: keeping your promises and creating great experiences for others.
You want customers to love you, not just know who you are. You literally have as many brands as you have customers and people who have an impression of you. If those impressions are bad, or if you don't keep your promises, then your brand is weak. Consider all the brands that you may have created without even knowing it:
Most feelings about brands are based on comparison. You may think that your competitors are the other companies that do what you do, but customers don't limit their comparisons like that. All customers may know is that someone else in a business completely different from yours did something great for them that you, in their opinion, were unwilling to do. You may not think it's a fair comparison, but who cares? It's the customer's call. Anything that another company does for your customer can have a strong influence on how she rates your brand.
Experiences like these are what make up an individual's impression of you, which then becomes your brand. The lesson that the market teaches is that every single encounter that anyone has with you is what ultimately makes up your brand.
It takes an ongoing commitment to take your personal brand to the "Category of One" level. It doesn't happen by accident. Once brand takes hold, however, with proper attention it becomes the essence of who you are and what you do. It transcends policy, which enables you to transcend commodity. Brand becomes the way you do everything, almost without thinking.
Brand is everything. One more time -- it should be your top priority to build, protect, and represent your brand to the best of your ability with everyone you meet. And remember, it's all about keeping promises and creating great experiences.
JOE CALLOWAY is a business author, performance consultant, and restaurant owner whose client list reads like a "Who's Who" in business. He is the best-selling author of Becoming a Category of One and Indispensable: How to Become the Company Your Customers Can't Live Without. His newest book is available June 2007, Work Like You're Showing Off! -- The Joy, Jazz, and Kick of Being Better Tomorrow Than You Were Today.2007 John Wiley & Sons. Used with permission.