I recently gave a talk about personal branding. I had hardly finished speaking when someone rushed up to me and shook my hand. “This stuff is great”, he said. “I have to develop my brand at work.” I explained how he needed to manage his brand, not develop it. He already had a personal brand. Maybe not a good one, but he had already been pigeon-holed by the people he worked with. His brand, and yours for that matter, falls somewhere along the following continuum (Thanks to John Daly at The University of Texas for this continuum).
1) Rejection brands. A rejection brand does not necessarily mean that a person isn’t liked. It just means that you wouldn’t want to work with them. Maybe they are competent enough, but they have been on several projects in the past that failed. Just to be safe, let’s stay out of their way.
2) Non-recognition. These are the ghost people in an organization. You see them wandering around at work, but you really aren’t sure what they do. Milton, the guy with the red stapler in Office Space, is the perfect example in Office Space is the perfect example.
3) Association. Goes with. Guy Kawasaki is a VC. When I think of him, I think venture capital. She is a CPA. When I think of her, I think accounting.
4) Preference. A preference brand is a stronger degree of association. Not only do I associate you with something, I prefer you to other people with a similar brand. For example, if I am going to work on this marketing project, I would prefer to have Seth Godin on my team.
5) Insistence. An insistence brand is even stronger. I associate you with a particular attribute and I cannot imagine anyone else working on a project (for example) than you. If I am going to work with someone on my personal finances, I instist on working with J.D.
So which brand do you want? Insistence? Not necessarily. I’ll write about that soon.