Building on brand promise

WHO ARE you? The usual and immediate response that comes to mind is, "I am an engineer, doctor, son, daughter... or just a housewife." This is how you normally introduce yourself or someone else. To know who you are, you need to know your values, what you stand for and how you live your life or what is your `personal identity'.

To confine yourself to your `category' is the same as looking at the Mercedes Benz as a mere car, and knowing that it comes from Germany. Harley-Davidson is not just a motorcycle; it is a lifestyle, and so is Nokia - a mobile phone with cutting-edge technology and individual design. This, in short, is what companies call `product branding'. Branding is about giving an image, an identity, the intangible experience and benefits. So what is your image (your values) and what is your identity (that makes you different from the rest) and why do you need it?

Personal branding is essential for professional success today. Your value as an employee is no longer linked to your loyalty, seniority or technical knowledge alone. Today, companies are in a constant state of re-organisation in response to the rapidly changing demands of the global market. You are continually working with different teams, managers, and employees. And that means that you have to differentiate yourself from a crowd of equally well-educated people and build demand for your services among your target markets (external and internal).

Personal branding is not about building a special image for the outside world; it is about understanding your unique combination of rational and emotional attributes - your strengths, skills, values and passions and using these attributes to differentiate yourself and guide your way successfully through your professional, personal and social life. Your `brand' or `identity' is critical to achieving your goals and letting the world know what you stand for. When you have built and nurtured a winning brand, you'll reap benefits, such as getting a defined core personality, enhanced charisma, increased confidence, increased visibility and presence.

In short, `personal branding' helps you define and refine your personality with a distinctive image and identity. Your behaviour and manners, the way you dress and speak -- all these emanate from the awareness of various attributes of your identity, differentiating you from others. Now, this is a powerful impression to make. And this time around it is just not the first impression but a lasting one too!