In my family, we drink Corona beer only in the summertime. Bottle, no glass. Slice of lime in the bottle. Could we enjoy a Corona in December? We will never know because we drink Christmas Ale in December. Could we enjoy Christmas Ale with a slice of lime? No.
Yes, my family may be a group of TV-watching, mindless, beer-drinking robots controlled by the whims of some copywriter looking down on us from the upper floor of a skyscraper. Nevertheless, we will continue to drink Coronas in the summer with limes. Because branding works.
Branding is the creation of an image surrounding a product. Successful branding includes setting a value proposition such as the promise of enjoyment, less work, more free time, success, romance, limes, beaches – and driving that proposition home day after day, week after week.
I would encourage each of you in the workforce to think of yourself as a product. What is your brand? What is your value proposition? What would you like your image to be among your peers and superiors?
Each day when you walk into your cubicle or office, your brand is being defined.
Your appearance is definitely a part of your brand. Do you dress professionally – or sloppily- or like you are looking for love?
Your credentials are part of your brand. Much as you may not want to hear it, getting that MBA or professional certification you have always talked about but never done anything about might increase the value of your brand.
Your attitude is a major part of your brand. If you are friendly, cheerful, and supportive of your team, it will be duly noted. If you retire immediately to your office, avoiding conversation and/or extra work, also noted. Are you known to contribute an idea or opinion? Do you exude confidence and independence? Or are you always anxious about your performance? Are you out of the office each day at 4:55 regardless of your workload?
Your interests and aptitudes are also a part of your brand. Do your eyes glaze over when your boss talks numbers – or do you jump at the prospect of designing a complex spreadsheet related to budget forecasts? Do you have a knack for small talk with clients/customers? An ability to explain, teach, manage? Creativity? Writing skills? What are your gifts? Are you discovering your own gifts and demonstrating them to those around you? Are you asking for tasks that shine a light on your talents and steer you in a direction that maximizes your chance to succeed?
As you can see, with the exception of your natural abilities, your brand is under your control. The choices you make each day define your brand. You can make sure you are always well-groomed and personable. You can check your negativity at the office entrance. You can choose to pursue an advanced degree…or not. You can get to know your co-workers…or not. And you can seek the associations and assignments that will play to your strengths and fulfill your greatest potential…or not.
If you think your brand is good, enjoy it – with a slice of lime.
If you think your brand could use some work, there’s no time like today.