By Alicia Young, Speaker. firstname.lastname@example.org
Name a national pizza chain. your go-to shopping site. your favorite airline.
I’ll bet you answered in seconds. Have you ever considered yourself as a brand? Logos have become a shorthand for a certain standard of service and a certain consumer experience. In short, they set up expectations—then deliver. Companies invest millions, even billions, in cultivating that sense of familiarity and trust, and protect it ferociously.
Because here’s the thing: you are one. Of course, I’m not suggesting you’re a product to be sold (cue outraged activists and parents), but rather, that you represent an overarching quality, a practiced reliability, a consistent way of doing things. Imagine your life as a movie. Now imagine the movie posters and ads. What would your tagline be?
Whether or not we realize it, our brand is broadcasting to the world each moment who we are: how we do business, how we deal with confl ict or stress, the type of intern or employee we’d make—even the type of friend we’re likely to become. Add to the mix: a 24/7 media landscape. It used to be that only celebrities had their images and quotes plastered everywhere. Today, we upload our thoughts, tastes, hobbies and humor in rapid fi re. Some tips to ensure your brand shines:
The Social Media Spring-clean. Take a sample of your social media posts. Are you overly reliant on emoji? Are your words dripping in sarcasm? Are the links you share cutesy, or considered? Do you tend to one-up others, or do you give credit where it’s due? Crucially, how is your grammar? Imagine these posts on the front page of The New York Times—with your handle and photo, of course. Do you cringe, feel neutral, or puff your chest in pride? What if any of your tweets started trending? Would you be fi ne with it, or would you have to change your name, flee to Bolivia and raise alpacas to escape the storm coming your way?
Try a Digital Detox. Put down your phone. Step away from your screen. If you’re driven to keep hitting that “refresh’ button, consider that you might have a mild case of FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Seriously. Dare to step out of the loop—and refuse to explain your absence. You’ll create a fabulous sense of mystery! Milk the allure.
Review your backing vocals. We all have verbal crutches. Often, they’re filler words such as “you know” and “so”. Other times, they’re phrases that hint at our world view, hang around in the background and form part of our brand. You won’t want to be known for repeatedly injecting your conversations with “It’s not fair!” or “I’m exhausted.” People might regard you as a bit of whiner, or someone who’s permanently fatigued. Upgrade your personal soundtrack, and others will notice in the best way. We’re each a brand. it’s up to us if, when and how we polish it.