Personal Branding Strategies for the Workplace
When we think about work, personal branding isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. After all, personal branding is personal and most of us make a decent effort to keep our personal and professional lives somewhat separated. The truth is, however, that our personal brands (and, therefore, our personal branding strategies) are vital components of the workplace. Each person in a company is important to the success of the company as a whole. That means, of course, that each personal brand plays an important role in helping the company reach its goals.
Think of the company Procter & Gamble. P&G is a huge company, and a brand within itself, but it’s made up of smaller companies- each with their own brand. Crest, Tampax, and Downy are all brands that create relatively unrelated products. However, they are all home and hygiene brands, which fall under the larger brand of P&G. Without the smaller brands that reflect the objectives of the P&G brand as a whole, P&G wouldn’t even be a brand. Personal brands work the same way in the workplace. Your company has its own objectives, goals, and brand. As part of the company, you are one of the smaller brands that helps the parent company reach its goals.
If your company or organization is the big parent company (like P&G, Nestle, Mars, etc) then there are four different types of smaller brands that make up that company. These ‘smaller brands’ are the personal brands of four different groups of people:
- Job Seekers
Each one of these groups, is filled with their own brands. A successful company should understand what brand each group represents and how it relates to the company as a whole.
Your main objective as an employer, is to find employees whose personal brands fill your company’s needs, and then effectively lead them to build a successful company. Think about the people directly under your supervision. Can you name their strengths? If you had to describe each person in one sentence, what would that sentence say? Would it be hard to do? If you don’t know what your employees bring to the table, then you are probably missing out on utilizing their greatest strengths. This is bad, obviously for the company, but also for the employee, who probably feels unsatisfied in their position. When employees are living out their brands and doing what they do best, then they are more likely to report job satisfaction. As the employer, you know that happy workers create a better workplace, more productivity, and less turnover (hint: all of these things leads to more profit!)
Employer personal branding strategies:
Take some time to sit down and think about every employee you have. (If you are in charge of a large number of people, maybe just choose your direct reports.) Pretend that someone has asked you to describe who they are in a few phrases. What would you say? Write down each employee’s name and their greatest strengths. Now, think about your company. What are the biggest needs or challenges facing your company right now? Compare the two lists. Do you currently have people’s strengths matched up properly to help fulfill your company’s goals? What could you do differently? Keep your employee strength/brand list handy for when a new project pops up. Use the list to help you find the right person for the job. Here’s a nifty worksheet to help you get started.
Without customers or clients, you can’t have a business. Because of this very obvious fact, it’s important to think about who your customer is and how they would describe their own personal brand. What is important to them? What traits do they value? This is why market research is an essential aspect of any company. Here’s something really cool: if our company brand (or the brand of someone associated with the company) is able to resonate with a customer’s personal brand, then an immediate emotional connection is made- whether the customer needs our products or not. This emotional connection is KEY to creating loyal customers.
Customer personal branding strategies:
Why do your customers like your brand? Why do they buy your products? If you don’t know, ASK THEM! If you hear repetitive answers, you’re onto something. Be sure to continually assess your marketing strategy. Are you marketing to the right group? Are you forming an emotional bond? Does the personal brand of your customer make sense with your company’s brand?
As an employee, you want to set yourself apart from everyone else (and, therefore, set yourself up for success) by cultivating a strong personal brand. Imagine that your boss is sitting in a conference room right now and is asked by his supervisor to pick one person from his department to fire and one to promote. You certainly don’t want to lose your job, but you also don’t want him to hem and haw about who he should promote. You want him to not waste a second before announcing, “[your name] is the first and only person that is perfect for the promotion job!” A strong personal brand has the power to produce those kinds of results. If you haven’t started thinking about your brand, then consider the following strategy…
Employee personal branding strategies:
Write down your job title and ask yourself, “what makes me different from everyone else with this job title?” Make a list of accomplishments, character traits, and experiences that help set you apart from everyone else. Now ask yourself, “Do my actions, words, and appearance consistently reflect the attributes on the list I just made?” (Ex. if you wrote: professional, outgoing, excellent writing skills… then evaluate if you are displaying those traits the best you can in the workplace). Think about what you want to be known for within the workplace. It might just be one word: Dedication. Integrity. Leadership. Choose a word or short phrase and write it down somewhere. Do your best to live out that word or phrase through your actions, words, and appearance every day. When a new project comes up and your boss needs someone with outstanding leadership, (s)he won’t have to think twice about giving the project to you. Download a FREE worksheet to get started.
If you’re not in a company, then you’re probably looking for somewhere to work (unless you’re retired, of course). Knowing your own personal brand and finding a company that holds similar values, makes the job search process more difficult, but also more rewarding in the end. Think of the first job you had out of college. If you’re like the majority of people, you did not enjoy the job, but you had to make money and pay off student loans. Very few people I know actually loved their first job. You know why? Because when you’re inexperienced, you have less options and, therefore, you are less picky about what job you choose. If they want you and they will pay you, then you sign up. The downside of this mentality to job seeking, however, is that you end up working for companies that don’t reflect your personal values. Your personal brand doesn’t align with their company brand…but you need a job, so you overlook that. Sometimes we just need to pay the bills, but if you’re looking for a fulfilling career, try the job seekers strategy below.
Job seeker personal branding strategies:
Before you even apply to a company: research, research, research! What is the company’s mission statement? What is their brand? What about the work culture? Do these things support your personal brand or are they totally different? Remember when we talked about P&G? P&G is a company comprised mostly of home and hygiene brands for personal use. It makes sense that P&G owns Head & Shoulders. It wouldn’t make sense if they owned Avis car rental. It doesn’t matter if you’re Head & Shoulders or Avis, just make sure the company you’re applying to makes sense with your brand! After you find a company or list of companies, identify their greatest needs. Compare those needs with your brand and your strengths and come up with concrete examples showing how you can bridge the gap. Tailor your resume to mostly show your ‘bridge’ skills and experiences (the ones that show you are capable of bridging the gap and solving their problems!) Make sure your interview answers also bridge the gap and show how you, in your truest form, can help fulfill the company’s needs. Use this FREE worksheet to help you get started.
Whether we know it or not, all of us have a personal brand. It might not be intentionally developed, but it’s there. Both personal and corporate success is possible by understanding personal brands and putting them to work to achieve your goals (no matter what workplace group you’re in!)
To your success!