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THE INSEPARABILITY OF YOUR PERSONAL BRAND AND PERSONAL IMAGE

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Last week, I attended an exceptionally well-organized and informative conference in Lancaster, PA, hosted by the Mid Atlantic Career Counseling Association (MACCA). The arduous journey getting there from Chicago was soon forgotten by such renowned keynotes as Richard Bolles, Donald Asher and Judson Laipply–who repeated his ‘Evolution of Dance’ performance for attendees.

Flying “Two Sheets to the Wind”

On the return trip from Baltimore-Washington International, two men heading to Iowa sat next to me. Both were reeking and reeling of alcohol; and neither wasted anytime creating a disturbance on the plane. After a confrontation with a steward, who refused to sell them a second round of bourbon, the more sober of the two slurred to me, “We’re not always like this: we’re just on vacation!” To no ones surprise, they were led away by airport security after we landed in Detroit.

Character VS Reputation

“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” –Abraham Lincoln

Our character is best defined as who we are when no one else is looking. Reputation, on the other hand, can be described as the opinions others have about us. However, a negative opinion developed because of someone’s drunken behavior aboard an airplane, or by a soccer player’s poor sportsmanship during a game, often reflects negatively upon others, i.e. teammates, coworkers, or one’s employer. For instance, in a recent article entitled, “Are your employees damaging your reputation via social media,” Patrick Stafford (April 2009) addressed the impact inadvertently associated to a company, and its brand, by the conduct of one employee.

Corporate Brand Management

L’Oreal, whose brand is, “Because you’re worth it,” is rumored to have stopped airing commercials featuring Rihanna, when she made the decision to return to Chris Brown after the severe act of physical violence he inflicted upon her. I believe the message clearly exemplified L’Oreal’s brand statement and corporate image; and it was a message that spoke volumes to Rihanna and every other young woman, worldwide, that chooses to remain in an abusive relationship. Rihanna eventually ended her relationship with Chris Brown; and L’Oreal is once more airing commercials featuring her.

Brand Consistency

Consistency is the fabric of credibility, and a platform from which confidence and success is built. Your brand is a promise to your audience of what they can expect to receive. In these uncertain times, gaining the trust of others can sometimes be a difficult task. However, your reliable and consistent actions will develop the loyalty and dedication of your target audience. The more people believe in you, the more your name will spread.

Your Personal Brand Image

Remember that your brand is indelibly tied to your image; and must be jealously protected. Therefore, be conscientious in the following areas:

  1. Posting unprofessional pictures on Facebook, MySpace, Meetup, and Flikr. Studies reveal that 70% of employers Google potential job candidates.
  2. Avoid assigning questionable ring tones and voicemails. Clients, customers, and potential employers who are turned-off by these will not leave a message.
  3. While attending networking events, conferences, workshops, or social gatherings where alcohol is served, be prudent. Examples abound of reputations that have been destroyed through acts of momentary indiscretions.

Maintaining your personal brand will require a tireless, deliberate effort that takes time. The results, however, will effectively lead to a distinct, recognizable image among your target audience, peers, and colleagues.

Donnell Turner

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