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Leadership Six proven ways to make your personal brand amazing

Roy Osing is former executive vice-president of Telus, educator, adviser and author of Be Different or Be Dead.

Your personal brand is an expression of the values you possess and want to be known for in your organization.

Your personal brand answers the question: “Who are you?” It paints a picture of what you hold close to your heart and cherish, and it invites people to see you intimately.

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An effective personal brand makes it easy for others to describe you in a single word or phrase. It allows others to see you from their own perspective.

For example, words that were used to describe me over my 30-plus-year career are: marketing guy, customer service fanatic, implementer, utility leader (my skills could be put to use in many different functions) and “fixer” (I was often brought into an organization to solve their problems and improve their performance).

I learned that building a different brand is not done through serendipity or a casual approach; it is a carefully thought-out disciplined process.

Here are the steps to follow to create your own brand that is compelling and relevant to the organization and will stand the test of time.

Be an expert on your strategy

Your brand must be an expression of what the organization needs to be successful.

So develop an intimate understanding of your organization’s strategy and decide which skills and competencies you possess that would contribute to it in a major way.

If an effective sales operations is needed to be competitive and drive performance, decide on how you can contribute to this goal and which of your related strengths could be leveraged to contribute to enhanced sales results.

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Decide who you want to serve

Decide on the individuals in the organization to serve – the “foxes” you want to target.

Typically, these are individuals who are in the power positions, make decisions and could have a major impact on your career.

Building an effective brand isn’t necessarily all about what you think are important attributes, but rather about what others in the organization are seeking in terms of specific skills and competencies.

Pick the top three leaders who own the people decisions in the areas you are interested in and build a profile of the individuals they are looking for.

Dissect your competition

It is critical to understand the “brand field” you are competing with – the other people who covet the same opportunities that you do.

Build a profile of your closest three competitors and define the elements of their brand in which they excel.

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Look particularly at their brand position and how you can counter it.

Create your ‘only’ statement

A highly effective brand is not a comparative or superlative statement; words like “better” and “best” are never used because everyone has a different opinion on who might be better and who might be the best at something – it’s a matter of judgment.

The objective is to make your brand claim indisputable, relative to others, by removing the judgment factor.

I believe the Grateful Dead provided the mantra that should guide all brand development efforts. The Dead’s Jerry Garcia said: “You don’t want merely to be the best of the best, you want to be the only one that does what you do.”

The “only” statement declares your uniqueness relative to others. It’s an excellent tool to declare your unmatched qualities that can be proven by fact rather than opinion.

Start by saying, for example: “I am the only one that has the proven and demonstrated marketing skills to take our company from a monopoly to an intensely competitive environment."

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Define your brand’s key elements

What about your “only” statement makes it true and not simply wishful thinking? For example, what specific marketing skills do you have that others don’t?

For me, it was about creating integrated data and internet packages for high-value customers rather than flogging individual products and services at mass markets, which was the traditional approach that the organization was used to seeing.

This detail provides the proof points behind your brand claim and answers the question: “What do you mean by … ?”

Communicate far and wide

Don’t keep your brand to yourself. Communicate it to as many internal and external audiences as possible.

Some ideas that were effective for me:

  • Offer to do presentations on your chosen brand topic.
  • Get quoted as a subject matter expert in any internal communications your organization uses.
  • Start a blog and offer content on your brand topics. Use social media to promote it internally and externally. Position yourself as the thought leader on your content. Offer to write articles for media channels that focus on your content.
  • Offer to talk to customers on your brand topic. Help them with any issues they have, and get known on the outside. In my case, many of our customers were interested in what we were doing in marketing as we were transforming from a monopoly to a competitive business. I had many speaking engagements to air my brand.
  • Offer yourself to the media on your brand topics. Make it interesting for them. Get them calling you. Your organization’s reputation will over time be influenced by you.

You have to commit to creating an unforgettable brand. You can’t “flirt."

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Amazing brands are created by individuals who understand what organizations require in order to be successful and who dedicate themselves to delivering the personal capabilities to help.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.

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