The personal brand is knocking at your door

Roberto Álvarez del Blanco. Professor. IE Business School

10 January 2011

Managing how others see us plays an essential role in building a career or personal relations.

Brands are not only one of the most powerful tools of business, but also of people. Learning to manage your personal brand, adopting an active stance in the perceptions others have of you is what marks the difference between success and failure when attaining individual goals and aspirations.

Each person is a brand, represented by his or her name and appearance, with a number of associated characteristics such as personality, interests, activities, friendships, family, personal appearance, assets, skills and profession. The brand will affect the perception of and influence all your relationships. Being liked and the respect a person creates will depend on his brand.

People like to enjoy life and being associated with others who are characterised and recognised as "good brands". The personal brand is a coming-together of everything an individual has done, is doing and will do in the future. Every activity, incident, presence and interaction will influence the brand. Therefore, whether the person is aware or not, they will be applying their brand to his life. The question is whether or not the brand is being managed actively and being allowed to evolve and whether or not there is discipline and consistency. The answer is that there will be an interesting reward if it is actively managed and certain disciplines that have a positive effect on the brand are exercised.

For organizations and people alike, the brand lives and develops in a similar context of ethical, cultural and social influences. When it is managed well, the personal brand supplies visible evidence of individual assets: experience, achievements and skills that reveal the real talent behind it.

The personal brand concept can seem strange to those who consider brands as something that is only relevant for products and services that compete on the market. But consider the politicians or celebrities that assume that they have to actively manage their lives as if they were brands, in the knowledge that it will affect their levels of success. It is natural for a politician to analyze his or her image and design actions and communication programmes that have a positive influence on it. Although most people are not as visible as politicians and celebrities, their own brand also grows in importance in their own world.

The most successful or outstanding people are those who build value into their personal brands and then disseminate it not only in their work, but also in their relations and in society. Personal brand development is a process that requires questioning and commitment. A personal brand that is not questioned or committed to a course of action is obviously heading nowhere. The distillation of identity and relationships for reinventing the personal brand requires action and then reflection, knowing yourself, experiencing contradictions, making great changes in stages, experiencing new roles, finding "role model" people who are what you want to be, reflecting on a regular basis and opening up relationship windows. Building the identity of a personal brand implies strategic and tactical imperatives that create meaning.

Personal brand planning is an intellectual process and, by its very nature, is hard work. It requires reflection and thought for which creativity and peripheral vision are extremely necessary. You will have to decide what to do, how to do it and when to fill the void between where you are and where you want to be (making it possible for things to happen; otherwise they won´t). Although it is true that the future cannot usually be predicted with any great accuracy and that uncontrollable factors will affect even the best predictions, events will be left to chance without the right planning.

Various investigations have shown that "life´s losers" tend to believe that luck is the decisive element of everything that happens to a person and that no control can be exercised over it. However, people who are successful in life believe they can control their own destiny. They achieve the magnificent purpose of life: the search for virtuosity, happiness and transcendence.

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