What is a “brand” and how does one go about creating it? A brand is a footprint. A brand is how you are seen, perceived, and remembered. It involves both real world and social media interaction and whether people are aware; we are all creating a brand for ourselves every day of our lives. Putting a stamp on it, and owning it as a brand is just a more definitive step.
Some have questioned the value of creating a brand for yourself. Does it really need to be done? Is it something that anyone actually looks at? Is it simply a social construct for media purposes that has no genuine bearing on the real world, and your life?
There is a simple answer. While your brand may be a “social construct” it can have an indelible impact on your life and career. When planned and utilized correctly, your brand is an essential part of the early journey in defining your vision for yourself and your continued financial success and security. The first step when approaching yourself as a brand is to decide what that brand and you will stand for. It should serve as a reflection of your current values and also what you aspire to achieve your dreams.
Develop Your Brand by Watching and Listening
Conceiving your brand starts with basic tenants you learned in elementary school: watch and listen. Take a look at people in your world and your chosen field. Look beyond any pre-conceived notions you may have and really look and listen to who they are, and the message they are projecting to the world. Examine them in person as well as via any kind of digital or social media and decide for yourself whether that person is succeeding or failing to represent what they are putting into the world. Look at any kind of context they put out in terms, of public goals, mission statements, and information for their personal journey and vision.
Doing your homework ahead of time and developing an understanding of what works and what doesn’t, helps you determine the trajectory of your brand and how it will propel you forward in living your vision. Remember, you are your own mid-sized Fortune 500 Company, and you need to run your business affairs as such. No one invests personally or financially in a company that has unfocused goals, trajectory, or has a brand that seems off the mark or undefinable.
Be Honest and Truthful When Creating Your Brand
The most important element in creating a brand for yourself is to be honest in what you are doing. There’s no lasting value in creating a brand and financial path that is no more than smoke and mirrors. Social media and the impression that you give people through your brand will appear hollow if you are not being truthful in what you are creating. Make sure that your brand represents your personal voice and views. Truth and hard work will always reap you a tangible benefit in the end. You can’t build a vision of the future on lies and public opinion. It’s much easier and more effective to maintain a brand that is honest and true. Sustaining falsehoods and superficial façades requires ten times the work and creates unnecessary risk and complexity.
Package Your Brand and Create Goals
Once you’ve decided how you are going to brand yourself, and what path you are taking; start working out a step by step financial plan with your advisors. There should be a series of definable goals and markers along the journey into living your vision. Working with your team of financial advisors, decide the duration of time you would like to spend on each element or part of your goals, and where exactly you see these goals fitting into the much larger picture of your present and future life.
Create your plan so that it is a package deal. It has to meet your needs, the needs of your financial vision, and all elements need to align correctly. All elements of your vision and financial scope need to feed into and allow your brand to exist on multiple planes and levels. Again, your finances should be run like a company’s, and there will always be elements that exist on separate levels but need to work in harmony for everything to move forward.
Earn Your Reputation for Your Brand
Reputations are earned, not just freely given. They take work, time, and patience. Creating and building your brand for yourself and your finances is no different. Stay true to what you and your financial advisory team have worked to create for you. This brand is a way to represent yourself in the world, and as such is as much a part of you as your body of work. In having others help you establish your brand, make sure you are doubling back to check on others and let everyone know that you are invested in them, just as much as you are in making this brand a reality and a success. Treat others well as you forge ahead to give your brand a life and longevity and keep it rooted in a reputation that you are working hard to maintain.