If you’re old like me, when you think of the word “brand” you might think of cattle in a Western movie or TV show. The original meaning from the 1500s (pre-Western movies!) was “an identifying mark made by a hot iron”. It’s current understanding of “a particular make of goods” didn’t come about until the 1800’s and “brand name” until the 1900s. But the current thinking still harkens back to the old meaning popularized by the Western cattle owner, whose brand said, in effect, “These are MY assets. They belong only to me.”
I bring this up because recently I’ve spent time talking with a client about personal brands, i.e. the unique qualities, attributes, skills, etc. that consistently distinguish a relationship with you from a relationship with other people. Your brand is essentially YOUR particular set of assets that you use to make an “identifying mark” on other people – a mark nobody else can make.
One way to think about your identifying mark, i.e. your brand, is to ask yourself the question, “What is it I want to be known for?” Usually the answer to that question comes from things you already know about yourself that matter most to you.
But think even deeper than that. What is it you want to be known for that is unique to you? Your impact on others will be greater when there are few people that can share your assets and how you deploy them. What are those things people get from you that they can’t get from anybody else? Those qualities that are unique to you are your brand.
Too often, people ask others, “What do you want from me?” That’s letting them put their mark on you. Instead, spend some introspective time defining what matters most to you in terms of the impact you are able to have on others. And then keep defining it until your brand looks like nobody else’s. It could be what you and you alone can do. It could be a special and memorable way of doing something that sets you apart. It might be a unique combination of things about you.
When you are able to know exactly what your brand is and begin relating to others with it, you will be pleasantly surprised by the increased level of influence you have on them. You will discover how much more purposeful and fulfilling your relationships are. And you will find how deeply satisfying it is when you live according to the brand that makes you uniquely you.
How are you leaving your mark?