Personal Brand

by Dawn Bentley

Reviewing your brand

The assessment of your brand is a continual process, or at least should be (see the diagram in Developing your brand). After all, it’s about you, your reputation and how you are coming across. People are assessing you every minute of the day, whether they know you or not, in work and out of work, whether you are in a restaurant, on a train, at the coffee machine or in a meeting.

Review triggers

There are also key events which can trigger a fuller review of your brand, particularly in the workplace. You may be looking for a new job or it may be that you are thinking of future opportunities, such as promotion, and making sure you are ready when the job becomes available. You may be returning to work after a career break or maternity leave, or taking your career in a different direction, such as moving into a different specialism or becoming self employed. All of these are great times to stop and take stock, as they usually signal a significant change in your life.

These are not the only times to review your brand. A succession of smaller events could point you towards reviewing your brand. Perhaps your ideas are not being taken seriously, you are always talked over in meetings or you want to let people know you can do more than you currently do and take on more responsibility.

Back to values

The starting point, when reviewing your brand, is the same as if you were starting afresh; being clear about who you are and what your values are. Remember, how you live your brand is driven by your values, so you always need to come back to this.

The next stage is to identify the gaps between who you are and the reputation you want to build. In essence, this is about reviewing all the information you have gathered about how you operate now and comparing this to how you want to be. Assuming there is work to do, prioritise the areas you want to work on by identifying either the easiest areas to work on or those areas that will allow you to make the biggest impact.

If you have already established your brand and certain situations aren’t quite working out for you, ask yourself how you would be behaving in that situation if you were fulfilling your values? What new skills or behaviours do you need to develop which will allow you to fulfil your brand and be more effective? If one of your brand values is competitiveness, for example, are you coming across too competitive or not competitive enough? Remember you probably have more than one audience and each is different and has different needs. That is not to say you sacrifice your values and who you are to give them what they want, simply that you adapt to their situation while ensuring you still deliver your qualities and your message. One question I often ask myself is ‘Was this particular action too much, too little, or just right in this scenario?’ If the answer to my question is too much or too little, then I need to work out what I can do differently or better next time. If I have a good relationship, I’ll often ask the other person, or someone else who was present, for their assessment.

If you are going through a significant transition, such as a new job or a change in career, in addition to coming back to your values, it’s also worth reviewing your vision and mission statement. Is this the same or has something changed that requires you to review these in light of your new decisions. Go back to the exercise on these and check them out (Vision and Mission). Should you find that there is a change, how does this effect who you are becoming? Does it require some different actions if you are to build your reputation in this area?

Adapt to changes

The thing to remember is to stay on top of your brand and not become complacent. Our world is always changing. If there is an acquisition or a merger, for example, you need to ensure your brand adapts to the new environment. We often cannot dictate the changes, but we can dictate who we are and make some choices about how we adapt to situations, recognising that sometimes ‘moving out’ may be the right course of action.

If you look at some of the great brands, such as Coca Cola or Johnson and Johnson, they have stood the test of time by adapting, while still maintaining their core values. On a personal brand level, look at Madonna and consider how she has ‘rebranded’ herself, although the essence of who she is has remained the same.

You can easily assess your brand at the end of every day by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What was the impact I created today?
  • Does this fulfil my brand?
  • What will I do differently tomorrow/next time to build my brand and be consistent?