The Purpose-Driven Brand
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
— Mark Twain
I think we all seek purpose in life: Something to make sense of our existence, and give our brief time on Earth meaning beyond fame, reward and recognition.
A few find it in religious enlightenment. Others reach for self-awareness, personal and professional fulfillment or self-actualisation. Some people turn inward, others reach out. There’s no wrong or right way to exercise your purpose, and you may even come up short –– and that’s okay, too.
But finding your purpose is only half the battle. Once you discover it, how do you tell the world what it is?
I recently had the privilege of meeting someone who shed some light on how to achieve this: By building your personal brand. Up until that point, I hadn’t really thought of myself as a brand –– after all, I’m just me, trying to do my own thing in my own way, in this crazy world we live in. But the more I think about it and research the topic, I realise how old the concept of personal branding is, and how important it is to shape one for yourself. If you don’t, someone else will do it for you.
When you start building your personal brand, you start aligning yourself with people who can bring you closer to achieving your purpose in life.
It was acclaimed In Search of Excellence author Tom Peters who first suggested people see themselves as businesses, back in the 1980s. In it, he argues that the concept of job security is misleading and that very few employers invest in the long-term development of their employees. Therefore, seeing yourself as a business is about taking responsibility for your own future and not leaving it in the hands of someone else.
‘Building your personal brand requires strategy.’
Your personal brand can influence whether you are considered for work, how much time people will be willing to give you, how valuable your thoughts and opinions are and how much a business is willing to pay you for what you do. The most important thing about building your personal brand is that it tells others what you are about. This is when networking opportunities start to happen, and where you bump into individuals who share similarities with your purpose.
Peter Montoya, the bestselling author of The Brand Called You, developed four simple exercises you can do to start building your personal brand:
Before you do anything, you need to be brutally honest with yourself: You need to understand what people currently think of you. What have you been projecting to the world and what happens as a result of this projection? Begin by asking yourself what you believe are your morals and values, what skills and talents you believe you have, even your personal style. Then ask the people around you what they believe to them to be. This exercise will help you identify if there is a gap between what you know to be true about yourself, what you think you project to the outside world and what the world actually sees and perceives of you.
Then create your new brand: You need to have a predetermined idea of what you want this to be before you begin. As previously stated, building a personal brand is a strategic exercise. It may be helpful to think of it in terms of short, medium and long-term goals. Then, write a personal branding statement –– I found this exercise very useful. The branding statement should sum up who you are, what your leading personality strengths are, what your passion is and who you hope to engage with your passion. Aim for it to be succinct; a paragraph at most.
Propagate your message: Using whatever means you have, and as consistently as possible, you need to get your message out there. You will probably use many different approaches, including networking events, social media, and word of mouth. Whatever you do, plan it, manage it and repeat it with consistency.
Live your brand: Now that you know what your personal brand is, you need to start living it. Your decisions and actions need to match the brand you have created for yourself.
Romy Townsend is the Marketing Manager for Domino’s Pizza in Sub-Saharan Africa.