Our humanity depends on two things: Love and work that matters.
-- Bruce Philp
If you have a well-defined personal brand, you will find it easier to advance in your career: people will know what they’re getting when they hire you. And you'll have an easier time setting the kinds of goals you need to enjoy financial success and happiness.
I talk about careers in this column because they are the foundation of your financial success. Having a career that you love will enable you to excel and make the money you need to invest. In fact, here is an interview from a couple weeks ago with Bruce Sellery, which talks about how understanding what makes you happy leads to success.
This week we're speaking with Bruce Philp who is a 35-year veteran of branded marketing, an award-winning author and teacher. He knows a lot about building a personal brand in business to help yourself get ahead.
Once you know what kind of brand you want to be, then you set about making decisions on your career path. You know what to emphasize when you write your resume or design your website. And next time you're setting goals, you'll have a better sense of whether they’re aligned with who you want to be in the world.
Here's our edited talk on the topic.
Are people aware of themselves as brands?
To me, the clearer you are about your purpose, your character and your values, the more attractive you’ll be. It seems inarguable. The brand imperative is just as important for individuals as it is for companies. People are so overwhelmed with the information coming at them — 174 newspapers worth per day, according to the New York Times — that they have to fall back on some ancient shortcuts to sort it out.
Now, more than ever, we have to think about not just being good and smart, but also about presenting ourselves with symbols people can easily interpret. For a person, those symbols aren’t ads and logos, of course, they’re things like what we believe in, how we speak, the physical trappings we choose to surround ourselves with.
We substitute simpler, more efficient tools for thinking analytically, which would be impossible with every piece of stimulus we have to process.
How do you figure out what your brand is?
Some people try to do it all intuitively, all informed by passion. But that’s going to become a thin soup. I would suggest you sit down and figure it out. There are three segments.
First, ask yourself: What is your mission? This tends to get eyes rolling. It was beaten to death in the 80s. But mission is still an existential fundamental. If you don’t know whose life you’re on earth to make better, figure it out. You have to provide value.
Then you write it down?
What’s the second part?
What’s your position? And here’s the recipe for how you find it. You ask yourself these three questions.
• Who are you for?
In other words, is there a coherent, self-identifying market out there? Do you work for top-tier health care companies? Are you a waitress in high-end restaurants?
• What are you one of?
What are people looking for when you want them to find you? The best in your category? A great deal? A reasonable, easy-to-work with person? One of the most successful in your profession?
• How are you different and better?
With specific relevance to the group to whom you’re trying to sell (see number one), what’s your edge?
And the third?
Character. What is your personality? Are you funny? Are you serious? The other piece is values: What do you believe in? What holds true for you?
Does the brand give you an edge?
The edge that this stuff gives you is really at the margins. The work that I do might only give you 2% more power in the marketplace. But the process of finding your brand — your identity — could give you incalculable benefits. We may think this sounds shallow and all that should matter is our substance, but the truth is that today your substance might never be discovered if it isn’t packaged in a mindful way. That, like it or not, is branding.