How to make a personal brand feel good
For some reason all the talk about personal brand makes me icky and uncomfortable, but why should it?
It is a five letter word for “what we want to be known for.”
If we have a genuine interest in something and believe it will make a difference in the world why shouldn’t we be known for that? Making a positive difference to the world is a fundamental purpose of creativity.
“Creativity is the process of original ideas that have value.” – Sir Ken Robinson
I am going to explore the concept of brand in this article, using myself as an example, for two reasons:
- To test my idea out loud (comment on it if you like)
- To provide a template for anyone who this resonates with. Anyone who has a great idea and is wanting to communicate what they do with clarity without it feeling icky.
How often do we define who we are by what we do?
The future of work is going to look different. Well I hope so anyway.
I recently had a boy, 12 years old, do his character strengths. His top strength is Bravery.
He came to me and said, “These are not right. These are more like me.”
This kid is one of the bravest people in his class. Why? Because he thinks so differently, some may say quirky. He isn’t afraid to share his ideas out loud. Others giggle, yes, but I see microexpressions of respect among his classmates, even if it is not cool to say so.
How interesting would this child’s future be if he consciously sort out opportunities that allowed him to exercise his bravery. To approach work by this rather than by a predetermined ‘job title’ that may not exist in the future.
It isn't what we say or think that defines us. It is what we do. - Jane Austin
When branding becomes useful
Brand is a useful exercise when these three things exist with what we love and do:
- Mastery – we want to get good at it
- Autonomy – we want to be able to do it in our own way
- Purpose – we want to understand why we are doing it
If we think about it in this context it doesn’t feel so uncomfortable.
How to get clarity with our ‘brand’
‘Brand’ is a simple word for communicating ‘what do you want to be known for’.
Three things give us clarity in answering this question:
- What problem do we solve
- What is our uniqueness
- Make sure the answer to the first two tap into our natural strengths
1. What problem do we solve?
Rory Vaden works with people on their personal brand. When he does so, he gets them to think about what they want to be known for in ONE WORD.
Given I teach tweens and teens creativity, which is all about solving problems in new and original ways, I thought distilling what I want to be known for down to one word seemed like an interesting problem to solve.
When it is something we want to master, that we can do in our own way and understand why we are doing it honing in on what that is feels easier.
Niche it down
I listened to a Conversation Hour interview a few years ago about a woman, Jodi Rowley who has dedicated her life to researching frogs. Quang’s Tree Frog was found in Vietnam by Jodi and her team. It has turquoise blood and green bones to repel malaria, and a unique birdsong-like call. Her discoveries have far reaching implications for life on earth.
Jodi’s is FROGS.
Mine is CREATIVITY.
For me creativity, particularly in education, is of interest because:
- As a mother I want our child to contribute positively to the world by knowing how to seize opportunities afforded to him. To not be afraid to make the most of them even if he has no idea how (yet). In fact I want this for all children. Imagine if every child was doing what they were naturally good at and loving it!! How amazing and happy would this world be? How much progress could we see?
- As a citizen of the world, I want a world that is beautiful. This means we have to address things like consumption, land degradation, war, disease, inequality and poverty differently. These require new ways of doing things.
Creativity is a vitally important skill to develop and understandably it is a highly sort after skill by smart companies. Smart companies want to do things differently and they need creative people to help them get there.
2. What is our uniqueness
Again Rory Vaden suggests this can be distilled down to one or two words.
Mine is BEAUTY AND EXCELLENCE
Everything we do here is designed to feel beautiful to all the senses. What we create, how we create, why we create. It brings beauty into the world. If we don’t get it right the first time, that is ok, but it is our guiding principle.
It is one of the reasons our 5 Day Creative Challenge has the girls producing abstract art. When we collate all the pieces they create, it is visually spectacular.
So much so I want to see it exhibited in a National or State Art gallery one day.
I work with beautiful people who are good at what they do. I choose to surround myself with them. The lovely thing about this is it becomes a way of working now, and a goal that I can continually aim for. It is aligned with a world I want to see.
What we are doing is creating beauty and excellence in the world using our unique process and I get to do it my way.
3. Make sure the first two tap into our strengths
Both the problem we solve and the way we do it tap into two of our top 5 Character Strengths. (Do the quiz – it is free. It is the same one I had our ‘brave’ boy do. Millions have done it.)
I am a believer in spending time on building the muscle of what we are good at over trying to minimise our weaknesses. The latter feels exhausting. The former feels exhilarating and exciting.
When we know our strengths we can focus on them.
When we focus on our strengths we get momentum because it is easier.
When we have momentum we make progress.
When we make progress, this gives us confidence.
So, we want to do it again.
When we are thinking about our brand, the thing we want to be known for needs to be something we want to master, gives us autonomy and gives us purpose.
Three things to think about to give ourselves clarity around what we want to be known for:
- What problem do we solve in ONE WORD
- How do we do it differently in ONE WORD (or two)
- Make sure the first two tap into our natural strengths
- Beauty and Excellence
- YES! both in my top 5
Join the 5 Day Creative Challenge
A process that gifts competence and resilience to seize life’s opportunities.