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Personal Branding: Five Ways to Build Your Brand Through Storytelling
A brand is a conversation people have about you.
Sam helped us understand this point with a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” As a public relations professional, I spend a lot of time thinking about how consumers perceive my clients. No matter what choices a client makes, it’s my job to help manage its reputation. I’m starting to think in similar ways about my own reputation. Sam stressed the importance of being intentional and authentic, as your actions and words become your shadow.
Your brand should be consistent in all facets of your life.
I’ve watched others build a strong brand that either shines through in their careers or personal lives, not both. It’s important to be consistent. At the same time, Sam explained potential barriers to sharing your brand. For example, one of my personal barriers has been not living up to my own expectations. Still, I know an honest story is perceived as relatable. I’m certainly not the only branding agent who sees himself as his harshest critic. I’m breaking that barrier by starting a personal blog.
A defining story should have a Challenge, Choice, and Outcome.
Brands are shared through storytelling because stories prove personal values. They form connections. Remember the diagram in English class that divided a story’s plot into a timeline? When it comes to your brand, a defining story needs a Challenge, Choice, and Outcome. What was the problem? What did you do about it? What was the result? The answers reveal a lot about who you are. In an exercise, we completed that broke down personal stories.
Life isn’t a competition. It’s yours to define.
Some people have difficulty sharing their brand because they think of life as a competition. Aside from being my own harshest critic, I sometimes watch others and think I’m falling behind. Yes, although I’m blessed to live in an exciting city and have a wonderful job, there are days when I still wonder if I’m doing enough. Think in terms of what is best for us individually, rather than what is considered the norm. There is no such thing as normal, and if there were, it would be boring.
Use the type of language that you hope others will identify with you.
This is my favourite point. To illustrate it, There’s this story about Morgan Stanley’s Carla Harris. As a woman on Wall Street, Carla wanted to be perceived as tough, so she started using the word about herself. Tough clients, tough challenges, tough management. One day, while riding the elevator with men that didn’t know who she was, Carla overhead them talking about her. They called her tough. Speak about yourself using words that you want to be associated with your brand. I’m starting to use a few words more often when talking about myself are quality, innovative, and collaborative.