What's Your Brand?
While many have said that your brand and your reputation are the same thing, I would argue for a slightly more nuanced statement: Your Brand = Your Reputation + Agency
Now, if you don’t exercise your agency? Then, yes, your brand is simply your reputation. However, viewing your reputation as a brand gives you the gift of agency, which allows you to become an active participant, rather than a passive recipient—and that is a key distinction!
Without the addition of agency, a brand defaults to the sum of what has been gleaned and what can be gleaned. A profile picture from 2003, your tendency to arrive 30 minutes late to events, the cat videos you’ve shared, the google result about some high school chess club with a member who happens to share your name, a Yelp review you left when you found a hair on your pizza… It can be chaotic. It can be misleading. And it can even be unflattering.
The solution? Exercise your agency, baby!
Whether you’re looking for an audience for your podcast, a new job, a sense of place or purpose within your community, or if you simply want to be more open to opportunities that thus far have eluded you, taking control of your brand by using your agency will to help.
So how do you build your brand? The first step is to ask yourself a series of questions, such as:
What makes you different from your competitors?
What is your greatest area of expertise?
What are your beliefs and values?
What are your passions?
What's your background?
What are your goals?
Who is your current audience?
Who is your desired audience?
In what way are you/can you be an asset?
How would a close friend describe you? A colleague? An acquaintance?
I could go on, but the point is, to keep asking questions until you’ve drilled down to the core message your audience needs to hear. After that? You tackle HOW to convey that message. In other words, you build your brand.
The types of building blocks that make up your brand may differ depending on the nature of your brand and your goals. If you’re building a brand for a service-based company, those blocks will include a logo, a tagline, a website, and customer testimonials. If you’re building a brand as a job seeker, your building blocks will include your resume, your interview outfit and answers, and your LinkedIn activity. In most cases, careful attention should be given to the language you use and the story (both visual and verbal) you tell. Every little thing you put out there will be added to the sum of your brand, so it’s important to have a strong touchstone (I recommend a brand kit!) at your side to guide you.
If you’re an independent creative, and you’re wondering exactly HOW to go about building or improving your brand, head over to my Services page to learn how I can support you on your branding journey.
Good luck and brand well!