How do you change your image or others’ perception of you? Or how do you grow that image or perception? A brand is built up over time. Because of that, a first step is to understand your personal brand image. I would recommend that you ask four to five people that you trust to honestly assess how they view your brand. At IBM, I had a coach, Harris Ginsberg, to help me determine my brand. It was enlightening to hear how others perceived some of my actions. The experience can help you correct things that you might never have thought would be interpreted in that way—just like your own product brands!
After you understand what your brand stands for, you need to determine if the image is real or perceived. If the image is real, decide whether that is the image you want for your brand. If not, what can you do to impact real change. If the image is one left over from the past, consider how you can demonstrate that things have changed. If the image is perceived only due to some type of inaccurate communication, take charge to try and correct that image. To net, when it comes to image, perception is reality. You must prove that the image is undeserved or actually change the attributes that led to the image.
All these questions stem from what you want to emphasize. Just as with a product brand, you want something that is real and relevant. Are you going to emphasize as a marketer your focus on operational elements, your focus on creativity and breakthrough thinking, or your focus on external marketing versus internal marketing? How are you going to position what value you personally bring to the table? These questions need to be thought through as you see how others perceive you. You can take real steps to change your image if you need to with special projects or other appropriate items. However, the key is that your image is impacted everyday by what you do and what you don’t do. Make it intentional.
The following are some ways to start to expand or alter your image:
- Understand the culture
- Make opportunities
- Do special projects for visibility
- Join organizations
- Find a way to show off your talents, but not to brag
Key point: Every interaction and experience is a nonneutral brand transaction!