Want to Reinvent Yourself? Personal Branding is Key

Today’s post was inspired by football wide receiver Terrell Owens, aka T.O., and his new reality-based television show called The T.O. Show. Honestly, I was a bit . . . no, very reluctant to watch the show, which airs on VH1 Mondays.

I’m not very familiar with his professional football career. But in the few times that I have seen him in the media, I felt he was generally portrayed as some bad guy slash conceited, hot head on and off the field. Because of that, I’ve never really had a favorable impression of him as an individual or professional ball player.

Despite that, I reluctantly watched his television show one recent night. And to my surprise, taking an inside look into his personal life was, to say the least, enlightening. I began to see a different, softer side of Terrell Owens. And started to understand the motivation behind his past controversial behavior.

Then, I started to put it all together. “Why would T.O. do a reality show?,” I asked myself. The answer: to rake in more dollars? Sure. But more likely, he did it to revamp his image into something more likeable, and to reinvent himself in the public eye.

(Full-disclosure: No, I’m not getting a cut from mentioning his show on my website. Although I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt T.O.’s bank account if he gave a sistah a little chump-change. Just kidding, of course.)

Another public figure noted for being some sort of “come-back-kid”: Madonna. Madonna is widely known in pop culture as the woman who’s successfully reinvented herself. Over the last 20 years or so her image has evolved — from dancer, to singer, to actress, entrepreneur, and most recently as a mother and children’s book author.

Courtesy of Dreamstime

Courtesy of Dreamstime

Do you need a reinvention-intervention?

At times in our own career, we approach certain life stages that require us to take a step back and reassess who we are, what we’re doing, and how we see our lives shaping up for the future. A 30-year-old professional and mother of two has a different set of priorities than a 22-year-old college graduate who just recently embarked on a career, for example.

As we grow older and mature, we naturally feel the desire to boost our careers, while along the way upgrade our personal image and lifestyle as well.

To reinvent yourself successfully — to get you to the next stage professionally and in life — think of it as a project involving personal branding.

What is Brand?

“Brand is the proprietary visual, emotional, rational, and cultural image that is associated with an organization or a product/service/program, setting them apart from the competition. Remembering the brand and having positive associations with that brand makes selection easier and enhances the value and satisfaction with the organization or product/service/program.” (Guide to Branding in the Public and Not-For-Profit Sectors by the Centre for Excellence for Public Sector Marketing,  April 2009)

You’re likely already familiar with the big commercial brands: Nike, Coca-Cola, Kleenex, Chapstick, McDonald’s, Johnson & Johnson, etc. They are your above average companies. For years, they’ve catered to a select group of people (i.e. Nike= athletes, Coca-Cola= soda drinkers, Kleenex= runny noses, etc.)

These companies built their brand around a certain product(s), and have maintained a greater market share because they stayed true to an image and quality. No matter where you go, if you see these companies’ symbols or logo, you recognize it and automatically associate it with a certain idea or feeling. This is called “brand awareness.”

Ready to reinvent yourself?

Below, I offer a set of helpful questions to get you on the road to re-inventing who you are and what you do professionally. I often use them in my work as a copywriter with commercial and private sector clients, who are seeking to re-brand and boost their company’s image among clients and prospective buyers.

I’ve modified the list of questions to help you get a better sense of who you are as a brand, what your brand should be based on, and what you should start telling people so that you can build your own brand awareness.

Take some time to evaluate the below questions. And start developing a pitch of who you are, what you stand for, and what makes you unique. When you’re comfortable with what you’ve whittled yourself down to, start confidently sharing with people — as you network or in casual conversation– your new brand!

Personal Branding Questions:

1. What do you do for your organization/company/line of business?
2. How would you describe your core values?
3. Why do your values and your skills matter to your organization/company/line of business?
4. From these set of questions develop a mission statement — a short paragraph or one-liner describing your overall career and life goal. For example, my mission statement might read something like:  To write insightful, inspirational, and practical articles and books pertaining to career exploration and discovering inner contentment. (I just wrote that off the top of my head, but you get the idea.)

3. What is happening in the world today that makes your mission relevant and compelling to others?

4. How are you different from the competition (i.e. other job seekers, companies, service providers etc.)?
5. What’s your relationship with other like-minded professionals that have a similar skill-set and mission? (It’s important to know your competition. You may be directly be up against one another one day, or working side-by-side. You never know!)

6. Who’s your audience? Who could directly and/or indirectly benefit from your services, skills, expertise, knowledge, experience, etc.?
7. If you have a particular message or intent,  who are you trying to reach? (For example, my core audience consists of job seekers, career changers, college students and individuals who simply seek greater contentment in their careers. And that’s who I’m trying to reach.)

Brand personality
8. How would you describe your personality? (i.e. perky, curious, pleasant, warm, friendly, welcoming, eager, genuine, motivated, committed, etc.)
9. How do you hope others view you? (e.g., active and involved, well-established, professional, knowledgeable, etc.)

Courtesy of Dreamstime

Courtesy of Dreamstime

10. What do you need to do or achieve to reinvent or create your personal brand? A college education? Training? A new, professionally edited resume and cover letter? A personal Web site displaying your work? Improve your speaking or interpersonal skills? Upgrade your wardrobe and hairstyle? Some combination of the above?

Keep the Discussion Going

Have you defined your personal brand?  What is it?  Is it working for you and your career? How do outsiders currently perceive you?

Maybe today’s article brought to light the idea that you are your own brand.  If so, how well do you think your current experience, outward image, education, and other facets are representing you in the marketplace? Would you like to make any changes?

It’s never too late to re-invent who you are and what you do for a living. Take it from Madonna, who’ll be age 51 on August 16 (one day before my birthday!). I wish you the best in your re-branding efforts and look forward to reading your stories. Talk to ya’ll soon!