I’ve always found it helpful to think about actual product brands when developing a personal brand. You can get a real feel for what wins in the product marketplace and quickly relate it to how a candidate’s personal brand can win in the job market.
There are products and services today that are instantly recognizable for what sets them apart with a superior performing aspect that has multiple benefits and solutions for their customers. They are today iconic, global in reach and reputation, and consistently compelling for their specific customers. But at one time they were start-ups with zero reputation and nowhere to go but up.
Let’s quickly consider a few. Apple is easily recognizable today as iconic for leading-edge technology. We all know the story of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak starting Apple in their garage. From the beginning, they had a thought – create technology that changes the world: iPod, iPhone, iPad, iWatch, Apple TV – and the list goes on and continues today. “Technology to change the world” became their personal brand. It is what set Steve Jobs apart from every other technology inventor of his era, and he continued to deliver on that promise until his death in 2011.
Sam Adams beer is another great example of founders differentiating their company and products from everyone else out there. The beer industry in the 1950s consisted of long-established brewers of well-known beers on a national and regional basis. Anheuser Busch’s King of Beers Budweiser, and Miller Brewing’s Miller Lite were the two leading brands in the industry when Sam Adams came along in the 1980s.
Jim Koch’s whole focus in starting his brewery was “to make the best beer possible and can’t wait for what’s next to come.” His Sam Adams Boston Lager essentially created the craft beer category on a national basis. The “best beer” became his personal brand that set him and his company apart as the forerunner of today’s ubiquitous “craft beer brands.”
We see every day individual entertainers, sport figures, and even business people that have almost instant personal brand recognition. Richard Branson, serial entrepreneur, self-made leadership guru and now a “Rocket Man”; Michael Jordan, greatest basketball player of all time (arguably); and Martha Stewart, the quintessential household goods and home entertaining expert. They all have created a platform of skills, knowledge, and credibility that sets them apart from others that do many of the same things they do.
In the job market in which executives compete with one another for the best opportunities, without a personal brand to communicate and make real for potential employers, you are going to be just another commodity that looks and feels like dozens of other candidates. You’ll have no way to create separation for yourself from the sameness of other candidates’ experiences, skills, and backgrounds.
How to set yourself part in the executive job market, a summary:
- Personal brand consists of your uniqueness of skills, strengths, and talents.
- Highlight the problems and challenges you’ve succeeded in handling.
- Show the results you’ve attained.
- Emphasize the value you’ll add to any company.
- Define the solutions you will bring to an employer that hires you.