Creating a strong personal brand in the workplace will form the basis of how people perceive you and can help accelerate your career path. Ishreen Bradley takes you through the process, step by step
When people think of the world's most powerful brands, Apple, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Virgin are often among those names that first come to mind. The commercial success enjoyed by these companies is strongly tied to their brand image and reputation. We can all learn from these global companies, as personal branding is also something that can be applied in the workplace to help us accelerate our careers.
A strong personal brand image can be essential for people wanting to climb the corporate ladder. There is a risk that if people don't cultivate their own personal brand, others will do it for them and their perception can become reality. In the race for promotion, having a strong brand image can be as important as an individual's track record.
To create a good personal brand, the first step is for people to think about how they wish to be presented to the world and the identity they want to project. This involves them considering what their promise is to their colleagues and boss and what people can expect from them. They need to focus too on what makes them stand out from the crowd and how to differentiate themselves from others within the organisation.
A personal brand is all about what you want to be known for and what people will say about you when they have left the room. It's about reputation and people, just like products, have to work hard to make sure they come across to colleagues, customers and other stakeholders in the best possible way.
Steps to creating your personal brand
A common mistake is that people fail to be authentic in their brands. The most important things to remember are:
• Be honest about your values and ideas.
• Promote those causes that align with your key values.
• Be consistent in what you say and reinforce words with actions.
• Protect the integrity of your brand.
Use SWOT analysis
An honest assessment of your situation is crucial in order to understand what you have to offer and the areas that need improvement. Identify the following:
• Strengths – internal characteristics that give you a competitive advantage.
• Weaknesses – internal weaknesses that must be worked on and improved.
• Opportunities – external chances that can be exploited in the marketplace.
• Threats – external challenges that cannot be controlled, but which you may have the opportunity to address.
Values and passion
This is about knowing what lights you up. Ask yourself the following questions to understand where your values truly lie:
• What really matters to you?
• What makes you angry?
• What drives you forward?
Defining your brand mantra
This is the heart and soul of your brand. You should create a quick and memorable statement describing who you are, what you have to offer and what makes you unique. Keep it snappy. Between three and five words is enough.
Committing to your brand
Once you have established a clear identity, it's important to maintain it at all times. Present yourself in the same light each time people touch your brand and ensure your behaviour is consistent with your values, making that visible through all activities and actions. You must commit to your own brand and not doubt it or keep changing it too frequently, as this can confuse people and may erode your reputation and trust.
Developing a unique brand and committing to it can be a really positive step in anyone's career, whatever their level. Those that take the time to do so will reap the rewards, be more empowered and gain more confidence in achieving their career goals.
Ishreen Bradley is a leading executive coach who assists senior women in innovation-driven sectors (logistics, information/media, finance, technology, engineering and design) to perform at the highest level. Ishreen worked at a senior level at BT and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young before establishing her own coaching practice, Bizas, 10 years ago. To find out more, visit ishreenbradley.com