Your Brand Matters
Why Delivering on Promises and Sharing Values Drives Success
by Lisa King author of Just Do You: Authenticity, Leadership, and Your Personal Brand
When we think of brands, we often think of iconic business brands like Apple or Coke. They are top-of-mind because they have grown to be very powerful, globally-recognized brands. In business, a brand is a relationship. It’s not simply packaging or slogans that attract customers. That might work at first to get shoppers to try, but in truth it’s the experiences the brand delivers consistently that creates an affinity for the product or service. A business brand makes a promise to customers, telling them what to expect from them. They create experiences for customers that embody the brand’s values. If the experiences are positive, and the values align with what customers and employees believe is important, then the brand attracts and retains loyal followers. If the experiences are negative, and promises are not kept, customers and employees will not be loyal, the brand perception suffers, and failure is inevitable. Even though brands spend millions on marketing, it’s customers and employees who actually create the perception and share the emotions that describe the relationship they have with the brand.
We don’t often think of people as brands and why your brand matters.
But just like business brands, relationships with people are also based on promises, experiences, and values. When you are in a relationship with someone, whether it’s in your personal or professional life, you know what to expect from them. You know whether or not they deliver on their promises. The best relationships we have are as a result of aligned values. A relationship is relevant if there is a connection to what someone else considers important and if they believe the feelings are mutual. Just like a business brand, it’s those around a person that create the perception and share the emotions that describe the relationship they have with them.
Think about a few critical relationships in your life.
Start with your boss or a colleague. It’s easy to quickly summarize the regular experiences you have, what you believe they value based on how they behave, and what emotions you feel when you interact with them. It could be positive or negative, but you have a picture of their brand in your mind. Now think of someone in your personal life. Think about the experiences you’ve had since the relationship began. Chances are you are pretty clear on what matters to this person and know what they value. The emotions you feel when they enter a room and when you interact with them tell you a lot about their brand and the importance it has in your life – again, positive or negative.
Have you ever thought about the promises you are making personally and professionally that shape your brand? Do you deliver consistent experiences to those around you? Do you do what you say you will do? How do you regularly demonstrate your values in your home life and in the work that you do? Your brand is visibly expressed by what you do and how you do it, not just what you say. Your brand is the reflection of who you are and what you believe. Everybody already has a brand, or in other words, a way that others would describe what it’s like being in a relationship with you. Think about the way you are introduced, that will give you clues about how you are perceived and how others convey what they believe is important to you. Also consider what you bring into a room when you enter. What emotions do you think others are feeling and what kind of interactions do they expect to have with you?
When you’re a leader, others look up to you. Having a clear, trusted brand is critical to success.
Being consistent in your behaviors, conveying your values, and demonstrating the organization’s values helps employees know what’s important and gives them a “true north”. It enables them to make sound decisions that are in sync with the organization’s purpose and values. Delivering on promises shows employees that you value them and you are true to your word. It also sets the example to deliver on promises made to customers.
If you really reflect deeply, you might realize that your brand is out of sync with some of your personal or professional relationships. Maybe you recognize that the way you present yourself to the world is not necessarily consistent with your values. If that’s the case, you may want to refine your brand to ensure that you are authentic, proud, and true to yourself. Remember, strong brands and relationships are built when they deliver on promises, create positive experiences, are consistent and reliable, and their values are clear. In your personal and professional life, your brand matters.