What is branding?

Branding is a set of qualities and characteristics that are associated with a person, product, company, or organization. Successful brands rarely have negative associations; brands with negative associations are rarely successful.

What does branding have to do with you?

In a word: everything. We all have a personal brand (whether or not we are aware of it) that either works for us, or against us.

In this regard, the first step in personal brand construction is to develop brand awareness.

This first step is also crucial because it forces you to see yourself as others do. Being aware of what you are subtly and unconsciously conveying to people is the key to controlling the magnetism of your personal brand. It's also a changing mechanism for altering any negative perceptions that people may have of you.

What do people say are your most positive qualities? What first impressions do people normally have of you? What frequent comments do people make about you? How are you often described as a worker? What remarks or criticisms do people consistently have about your work?

Present these questions to people who are willing to give you honest answers.

Once you receive the answers to these questions, you will have taken a courageous first step in getting in tune with your brand awareness. Once you've completed this first step you will also be able to truthfully identify the benefits you are able to offer others.

William Bridges, author of Creating You & Co. and Jobshift, says employers pay for results and what you can produce for them. And those who are succeeding are the ones who know what they have to offer and what they are capable of doing better than some of their competitors.

Once you've developed brand awareness, the second step is to evaluate your brand viability.

Brand viability is the process of identifying a list of qualities and characteristics that will enable you to succeed in your professional endeavors. For example, if you are a salesperson, communication skills would have to be at the top of your list. Other qualities might be persuasiveness and resilience.

If you already possess the qualities that you listed, great. If not, don't fret. You will simply have to cultivate them. If the qualities needed are just not within your reach such as being punctual (and you are always late) or dealing with stressful situations (and you have a quick temper), you should look at the other qualities in your list and determine if they are strong enough to compensate for the qualities you may lack, or re-evaluate your career choice.

The qualities that you list are going to be what you use to attract and retain loyalty from customers or favoritism from employers - but they have to be sincere and tangible. Sincerity is an emotion that you can not underscore - or fake for too long. We analyze information based on data, but most decisions are emotionally driven.

Effective branding engenders trust and loyalty. It will help you get a job, save your job, or win jobs that you bid on.

Step number three is to position your brand.

What is positioning? Al Ries and Jack Trout , who are the foremost authorities on Positioning, stated in their book, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, "Positioning is not what you do to yourself. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position yourself in the mind of the prospect."

In other words, how do you want people to perceive you? You've already identified the qualities you'd like to be associated with, but now it's time for you to do something that will cause you to be perceived in that way.

It's through consistent actions that brands are built.

Consistency (repetition over a long period of time) is what gives people faith in your abilities. It creates expectations.

A track record that shows what you are capable of is far more credible than telling someone what you are capable of. One fuels credibility, the other invites skepticism.

You can not establish a brand without first positioning it. Seek opportunities to position your brand once you've defined it.

The forth and final step of constructing a solid brand is to manage your brand.

Effective brand management consists of striking a balance between what your brand can deliver and the promises that it makes to your target market (employers/clients).

Do you know who your target market is? Do you know what they really desire? The key is to cater to them and their desires while fulfilling needs. Once you work hard to establish a brand that will earn you that reputation, your brand will yield profits for you in a multitude of ways.

Author's Bio: 

Gian Fiero is a speaker and author who lectures throughout the country.