Monday, April 7, 2014

10 Steps to Building a Better Brand

Whether you work for yourself or work for someone else, you need to consider what your Brand is.  You
need to think about what others experience when they interact with you.  These experiences build your branded message, whether good or bad.  Generally speaking, we want others to think of us favourably.  We want their experience of us to be positive and memorable, such that they will refer opportunities to us.

In building this brand then we must not only think about 'what' we want others to experience when they interact us, but we need to consider 'what' actions we need to take to make that happen.  What are the behaviours we need to engage in that will create the desired impression?  Once we have identified them, we then need to be prepared to replicate them.  Therefore, these need to be behaviours that become our habits, that we do repeatedly.  It is through the consistency of our actions that others will come to trust in us and what we represent.

The following are 10 behaviours that I believe are critical to any branded message.  Are they part of yours?

  1. Dress appropriately.  Your role may not require a suit but we're talking about the details here.  Are your clothes clean and presentable?  Does what you are wearing show that you care about who you are and are proud of what you do?  This is just as true if you are CEO of your own firm or are in the mailroom.  Dressing with care shows others that you respect your value, instilling in them the belief that they should too.
  2. Smile.  Often.  Show others some warmth and engagement.  It is astounding how much this matters and how little we do it.  We get focused on the projects, the deadlines, the files on our desk and get caught up in the overwhelm, forgetting to step away (even in brief moments) and connect with those around us.  A small smile, freely given, has more impact than you know.  It shows that you came out of the bubble revolving around 'you' enough to see and be present for 'them'.  Building your brand is not about you, it's about others' experience of you.  
  3. Be on time.  Yes, we know you're busy but so are we.  Being repeatedly late is selfish and self-focused.  It is disrespectful of the value of other's time and will do much to undermine your credibility.
  4. Listen.  Don't just wait your turn to speak, truly listen to what others are sharing.  If you want people to value your input and listen to what you share then start by demonstrating the same to them.  Give what you want to receive.
  5. Show Respect.  Demonstrate your respect for others, who they are, what they do, what they bring to the table.  The easiest way to gain respect is to show respect.  Respect shows up in the little things that you do.  Too many people pay lip service to this thinking that simply 'telling' someone that you 'respect' their opinion takes care of it.  However, saying you respect them and demonstrating your respect for them are two completely different things.  What you say will not be believed if what you do is not delivering the same message.  Showing your respect is infinitely more powerful and memorable. 
  6. Compliment Others.  Recognise and reinforce the good things that others do around you.  Giving them an extra boost for the good they have already done brings even more value to the action.  People always feel more positively about those that make them feel good about themselves.  No one ever gets enough of this.  But... it must be sincere.  Handing out compliments that you don't feel will not be received favourably.  Keep them simple, honest and immediate.  
  7. Keep your promises.  You want a brand that others can trust and put faith in, which means that you need to uphold your promises.  You need to be good to your word.  If you aren't sure that you can deliver something, within the budget, within the time frame, then state it upfront. Don't tell people what they want to hear, tell they what you can deliver.  Promising someone something makes them feel good in the short-term but it's the long-term experience you are after.   Failing to deliver on a promise you made is not going to build the positive brand that you're after.  Under-promising and over-delivering will always serve you well.
  8. Be Kind.  Small acts of kindness show an awareness and interest in others around you.  Holding the door open for the person coming behind you, offering to carry a few packages for someone who is struggling, giving someone the nickel they are short for their coffee, offering to help instead of agreeing to help.  All are small acts of kindness that take you outside of 'it's all about me' bubble, demonstrating to others that you care.  
  9. Admit your Mistakes.  We all make them.  However, we lose much when we attempt to hide or deflect them.  Own up to your mistake, apologise for it, do what you can to fix it, move on.  
  10. Say Please and Thank you.  Your mom was right about these ones.  Two of the most under-used and yet most powerful words in our vocabulary.  In a world where basic politeness seems to be going out the window, showing common courtesy and manners will serve you well. Please remember yours.
If you want to Build a Better Brand, start with these 10 fundamental elements.  Use these as your foundation and build from there.  

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