What’s a brand? Great question! When people think of brands, they typically think of iconic ones like McDonald’s®, Coca Cola®, Apple® or Microsoft™. But times have changed. Many don’t realize the seismic shift social media has had on society, business and personal lives. It’s made what was once considered unlikely or impossible, possible. It’s allowed average people to acquire success, by passing traditional norms with common tools like a website, blog, YouTube™ and Facebook®. So today, average people are penetrating homes (or pockets) and becoming self-made brands. Are you a brand? You could be and it would make you more marketable in any venture.
According to Forbes Magazine, there are seven keys to a good brand. Good brands:
How does this apply to you? Let’s take a look and then return to these points.
Let’s assume you don’t want to start a business; you prefer to work for someone else and not have the pressures of ownership. However, you’d like a successful career in your chosen field.
The competition for GOOD jobs is high, due to a combination of college graduates and the recent unemployed who have experience on their side. There’s a lot of value in experience, but there’s also a premium price. So many companies are looking at the pool of new graduates and recent experience to add to their portfolio cost effectively. After all, they are a business and want to get the best price for any asset they purchase. This is where you fit in.
How do you stand out in a pool that large and command more than entry level wages or salary? You must think differently! Few people see themselves as a business selling a commodity (because you are the raw material). Most people have the mistaken idea that a business exists to provide jobs and benefits, almost like a social program. That is not why businesses exist. Now you may say, “Duh! Eddie!” However, I’ve spoken to people with this mentality, so don’t laugh.
Businesses exists for one reason only, to make a profit so the owners can provide a better life for their families, just like you. After all, why pursue a career, hoping to climb the ladder to higher income, benefits and a corner office if it’s not because you want a good life for you and your family? So a business is no different.
Therefore, if you want to attract the attention of a company, you need to think like a business. You need to understand that you are selling your product (you) and the features it offers determine the value (price) it commands.
With all the aforementioned in mind, take the seven key points and turn them into questions, and write down your answers?
The answer is the decision makers who would hire someone with the skillset you have to offer?
In other words, what do you do differently? Too many people default to the typical “me-too” answers. “I care and go the extra mile…,” “…my experience…” “…the quality of my work…”
Now, who’s going to say they only do enough, don’t care, lack the experience and their quality sucks? NO ONE! These are EXPECTED! If you don’t AT LEAST have these attributes, don’t bother applying!
Think of something you do differently, a value-added way of doing something they need. This is what makes you unique. If you don’t have that yet, start thinking. It will typically hit you when you least expect it, like an epiphany. The deeper you dig into your industry and HOW businesses USE what you do, the sooner you will find something that could be improved.
This is important, because without passion you will eventually burnout. The fact you care MORE about the paycheck, rather than what you are doing will exude from your pores, and people will sense it and pass you up.
Whatever you are passionate about needs to be what you lead with.
I don’t know who said it, but it’s right on the money (and I paraphrase), “Hard work will triumph over talent every time.” How many talented people going nowhere do you know? Having skills means nothing if you are not consistently pursuing your goals with hard work.
As you brand yourself, it will require a commitment for consistency. The temptation will be to quit or get lazy right before success arrives. If you do, you will never know how close you came to winning.
Are you willing to compete or do you expect a handout? Sounds crass, but many people have an entitlement mentality. They don’t think they should work hard to earn good money. In their own, self-delusional mind, believe they are worth (fill in the blank), just because that’s how much they want to earn. Remember, your value will be decided by how much you can make or save the company. If you can make AND save them money, your value is double!
Figure out how can you compete in your chosen field. What will you offer? How will it be better? How can I sweeten the offering? Going back to uniqueness, how will I leverage and position my uniqueness?
This is where the rubber starts to meet the road. If you answered all the previous questions, now it’s time to decide on your marketing infrastructure: website, blog, social media, newsletter, etc.
“But wait! You said if I didn’t want a business, I preferred to work for someone, this would help me? This sounds awfully like a business!” This may be your reaction. However, if you’ve read the articles:
…you understand that ANYTHING you are passionate about (your church’s youth ministry, local culture, a hobby or chosen profession, etc.) is shared the same way you would promote a business.
Now, flip hats. YOU are the business owner looking for a new team member. You come across this inspiring young person who has shown the ability to:
Do you see an average college graduate who is knocking on doors to find a job, or do you see our last key point – leadership?
The last point is leadership. If you have done the aforementioned, you’ll position yourself as a thought leader. You see, a thought leader is someone who’s willing to make a stand on what he or she believes and chronicle it to the world. Thought leaders PERSUADE others with rational, logical and sound thinking that is DIFFERENT from the herd. And it’s the combination of all these points that brand you.
Branding is NOT a name and a logo, it’s the total experience one has with an entity. The experience on their website, reading their articles, sharing in social media, customer service, after-sale support, packaging, etc. Your logo and/or name is what they REMEMBER when your topic comes up. (Read: Branding is More than Just a Logo and it Makes Google Love You!”)
So there you have it. Can you become a brand? Absolutely! Will you become one? That’s totally up to you. If you don’t want to work that hard, I hope you like your current circumstances. However, if you embark on this journey, it will be exciting, doors will eventually open, you will add value to your offering (YOU) and you’ll have created a tool you’ll use for the rest of your life.