Sunday, November 15, 2009

Creating Your Brand Statement: Brand Vision

In previous posts about the importance of a personal brand, we concentrated on how to create a personal brand using web tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Now it’s time to create your own personal brand statement. A brand statement will help your cover letter or resume stand out from thousands of others! In the next several blog postings, I will share information with you taken from leading personal branding expert and career advancement coach, Robert Allen Paul, and his “Company Of One” presentation at Buena Vista University. I would recommend his valuable message to every student. (Part I: Your Brand Part II: Core Competencies Part III: Brand Attributes Part IV: Brand Identity Part V: Brand Promise)
Part VI: Brand Vision:

Who Do You Want To Be?
So far, the focus has been almost exclusively on who you are and what you do. But who do you want to be? What do you want to do? And who would you like to do it for? Some will tell you to “begin with the end in mind.” Marketers will tell you it’s the beginning of your Brand Vision. The first few steps of this personal branding process are usually the most difficult because we’re never taught to think about ourselves or our careers in this way. Yet, almost all of us have been told to “follow our dreams,” so imagining who we could be is almost second nature.

This is the stage of the branding process when you get to stare into space. Because this is the stage where you’ll gaze into the future and develop your brand vision. Some companies refer to it as their mission statement. You might call it your career objective. You want it to be comprehensive and expansive and instructive. But you also want it something you can remember and reflect on every day in order to keep your performance in line.

In short, a mission statement isn’t a map that tells you exactly how to get where you’re going. It’s a compass that lets you know if you’re veering off course.

But regardless of whether you’re a “map” or “compass” person, the one thing you need – is a specific destination. Which brings me to the primary point of this exercise.

Too many resumes include a mission (or objective) like the following:

“To secure a position that will allow me to utilize my skills and contribute to the overall growth organization.”

Sound familiar? Of course it does. Because we’ve all been copying the same objective statement for years. And that might not be so tragic if it actually stated an objective, but this generic waste of space doesn’t tell anyone anything. In fact, the only thing this objective indicates is you don’t care enough about your career to think about it.

So, let’s think about it. Let’s think about what you want to be, and where you want to be, and maybe even when you want to be there. Let’s imagine a specific position in a specific division in a specific type of company. Most importantly, let’s try to focus on the future instead of just the first job, so both you and your prospective employers can gain some perspective.

There is no need to develop a “10-Year Plan” or anything else that detailed. Any plan you might work up is probably going to change ten weeks after you are in the workforce anyway. But if you want your career to have any sense of direction, you need to begin with a well-defined destination. For example:

“To eventually earn a position as the chief marketing analyst at a category-leading consumer packaged goods company.”

That is an objective. That is a mission statement. That is a compass to help keep your career on course. And every day you will be able to measure your journey and judge if you are any closer to your destination.

But your objective doesn’t just provide direction for you; it also provides direction for prospective employers. An objective like the one above doesn’t just tell an employer you’ve got aspirations and a destination, it also tells them what they’ve got to do to help get you there. If they have a good idea of where you would “eventually” like to be, they have a better idea of where to put you now.

Needless to say, you can (and probably should) adjust your career objective according to the company to whom it’s addressed –as long as it’s still specific. The truth is, providing a more detailed objective actually creates more opportunities, not less, because it helps employers match you to more positions than just those for which you applied.

So, I will ask again: Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? This is the fun part, so don’t be afraid to daydream a little. Create your own mission statement. My Brand Vision: My Objective is to ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Next up: Creating Your Brand Statement: Brand Loyalty + Brand Equity

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