More Broken Glass by autowitch
Black baseball cap with a fashionable army jacket. That’s the image that people who know me recognize when they hear my name. When I started speaking at conferences and events here in North America, I became intentional about the image that I project. Let’s just say that everything started with a profile photo I gave Microsoft Singapore for use in their marketing collaterals. I couldn’t find a professional-looking profile photo when they asked for one back in 2007 for a conference I’m scheduled to speak at. So I gave them one that I have. I was wearing a baseball cap. That photo instantly became my official profile photo – from the book chapters I wrote to the case study documents from Microsoft Learning. And so I’ve decided to maintain that image and became very intentional about its consistency. I’ve also taught professionals how brand consistency helps in improving their career. A simple test that I do is perform a Google search on my name and check the results. If I get the results that I want consistently – be it the profile photos or keyword combinations – that means I have done a good job in creating the brand that I want.
I like doing experiments. I always like to try something new to test a hypothesis or just to break away from the rut. Several days ago at an event where I am supposed to speak at, I’ve decided to do a social experiment. I’ve decided to abandon the “baseball cap and the army jacket” image and just stick with my good old fashion self, the one where you can barely see hair on my head. On top of that, I’ve decided to include my new personal assistant – my eyeglasses – as part of my image. I wanted to test if I have successfully created a personal brand throughout these years. I knew the side effects of being inconsistent with my personal brand when I’ve decided to rename my LinkedIn and Twitter profiles several months ago. And so I went on with the experiment. The people who knew me well didn’t have much problems recognizing me. They were confused at first but have gotten over it. Moving on. I walked among the crowd. I heard people saying they wanted to attend my session. That’s not surprising since I knew many people wanted to learn more about the topic that I’m going to present on. What’s really surprising is what happened next. I heard people asking if they’ve already seen me. Some of the event organizers are starting to become restless because they couldn’t find me anywhere. Somebody told them that I was already at the venue. They just couldn’t find me. Or maybe they were looking for somebody else. Maybe they were looking for the guy wearing a baseball cap and the army jacket.
The experiment highlights few key points regarding branding:
- You/We are a brand. Whether we like it or not, our personalities are our brand. Same is true with companies, products and services. Quit avoiding the fact. You might as well do something about it and…
- Be intentional. Don’t wait for others to define your brand for you. You do not have control over that. Instead, define it for them. If you don’t define your brand, others will do it for you. I chose to be intentional about the brand that I have built over the years and I expect the results I’m getting.
- Know thy self. It’s hard to define something if you don’t even understand what it is. Whether it’s a person or a product, we need to know what it i and hat it stands for. Knowing one’s self takes time but it is key to successfully creating a brand.
- Be consistent. Imagine seeing a Coca-Cola logo with an orange colour. I can’t. That’s because I’m used to seeing it with the colour red. It becomes confusing when a brand is inconsistent. That’s the main point of my experiment. If we are inconsistent with our brand and our personality, others will be confused. Worst, they will eventually forget who you are.
If there’s one key point to consider when it comes to branding, that’s CONSISTENCY. And it doesn’t just work for branding. It does so too with leadership. You’ll earn the trust and respect of the people you lead.