branding & strategic planning

What is your brand story?

January 30th, 2018

A trend among millennials in the last number of years is to support brands that are good corporate citizens. Brands that are environmentally and socially responsible. Consumers are beginning to ask important questions: Who exactly made this t-shirt? Were the workers treated fairly and was the cotton sprayed with pesticides? Does this company do anything to help in their community? And brand managers are reacting to this. Making policy changes within their organization to become better companies or at least appear to be.

But have you ever thought of yourself as a brand? The clothing you wear, your hairstyle, whether you use scented or unscented products. The books you read, the movies you watch. The way you interact with your co-workers, strangers, family, or the dog waiting outside the coffee shop. All of these things, big and small, create an image of you. Your brand.

If someone were to ask a group of your close friends and family to describe you, would all the comments be different or would there be a lot of consistencies? Funny? Kind? Moody? What if we asked each of them how they felt after a typical interaction with you. Would you be pleased with their responses? Embarrassed? Or maybe a little pissed off?

In the marketing and communications industry we conduct brand audits for corporations regularly, so why not for ourselves? In this age of distraction with all of the commitments we have with work, family, and social engagements it’s easy to lose yourself and forget about the bigger picture.

That’s why it’s a good idea to block out a few uninterrupted hours even twice a year to sit in a quiet place and do a bit of a self-assessment or brand audit. Doesn’t have to be anything formal.

Ask yourself some pointed questions and write your answers down. Be the most honest you’ve ever been. What are your core values? What is important to you? What isn’t so important? How are you perceived at work? At home? Does your product (you) stand up to the promises made? Do you agree to go for supper with colleagues only to bail 1 hour before the reservation? Or worse, don’t show at all. Or are you always true to your word?

If you died tomorrow, what’s one thing you would be remembered for? Is that different than what you would WANT to be remembered for? What problem does your brand solve? Or maybe you add to problems. Point out the negative at every opportunity as a way to make easy water cooler chit chat at the office. “Isn’t the snow horrible?!” “Those potholes are unbelievable.” “Everything sucks.”

What is your USP? Your brand attributes? Reliable. Leader. Maybe a team player? Which of those attributes you listed, is most important? What do you do that is NOT in keeping with your brand vision? Does your brand have a voice? Or maybe it’s more of a whisper. And the question asked a lot today: How does your brand live online and on social media? Are you creating the right image by posting a selfie every day? Or a daily meme about how much you live for partying on the weekend. Is this creating an accurate impression of you?

Once you’ve answered these types of questions, review them and notice what you would like to have answered differently. Then come up with a strategy to create the version of You that you want to be. If you want to be seen as a more positive person for example, you could give yourself a simple daily ‘to do’ like committing to give one compliment to one co-worker each day. Pretty simple. ‘Nice job on that logo design!’ can go a long way. The ripple effect can be enormous.

Brands can impact our world in a big way creating a whole cultural shift. Facebook, iPhone, Google, the list goes on. Your brand has power too. Think about what you want it to stand for and act on it.

FOR SALE: One selfie stick.