This Week in Positive Change Management : 5 Steps to Brand Consistency

02092016 Brand Consistency

 

There is a lot of poor branding out there. Every day some talking head is mentioning personal branding.  No one talks about brand consistency; however, brand consistency is the way to stay memorable and relevant. Here are my 5 steps to achieving brand consistency:

  1. Do your research

Doing your research is important because what you think your brand communicates isn’t necessarily want the marketplace thinks. Ask people inside and outside of your company and profession what three words come to mind whenever someone mentions you. Remember, the definition of branding is what people think of you when you are not around. If you don’t conduct the appropriate market research, you will never know how consistent (or inconsistent) your brand is.

 

  1. Write down your mission statement

Your mission statement represents your current brand. To obtain a clear mission statement, ask yourself these two questions:

  • What do I want my brand to accomplish?
  • How do I want my brand to communicate these accomplishments?

Your mission statement must answer these questions by writing down 3 action verbs that best communicate them. This statement will serve as your brand consistency’s bedrock.

 

  1. Define your vision statement. This will be your tagline.

Your vision statement is your optimal future version of your brand. It can also double as your tagline. Vision statements are usually less than 20 words and they communicate your brand consistency. You will be use your mission statement as the foundation to write your vision statement.

 

  1. Develop a brand communication plan.

Use your mission and vision statements to create a solid brand communication plan. It is essential to control how your brand is transmitted. Although you work in a company, your brand must consistently communicate wherever you go. This is why I have broken down 4 audiences that will receive your brand message.

 

Below is a graph showing 4 quadrants. The columns represent organizational structure. They are departments (internal) and professional network (external). The rows represent people. They are coworkers and industry professionals (internal) and company employees and regular workers (external).

 

  Department (Internal) Network (External)
People (Internal) Coworkers Workers in your profession but outside the company
People (External) Employees outside your dept. Workers outside both your profession and company

 

The first quadrant represents your coworkers are both inside your immediate department and whom you interact with on a daily basis. They are the ones whom you communicate the most. The second quadrant represents the company employees work in the same building but not the same department. Although they have the same company structure, their departmental culture may differ from yours. The third quadrant represents the workers in your professional network whom share your occupation but not your company. Your commonality is your industry but they work in different company cultures. The fourth quadrant represents the people whom are both outside your company and profession. When writing your brand communication plan, write for the people in this fourth quadrant. These people are unfamiliar with your industry jargon and company culture. If they understand your brand and what it represents, then you have achieved brand consistency.

 

  1. Execute your plan and collect feedback.

Once you have created your plan, start implementing it. Roll it out to all four quadrants and await feedback. Collecting feedback is critical towards evaluating your brand’s consistency level. If your industry or company has changed, these changes would be recorded in your feedback. Incorporate it back into your brand to achieve brand consistency for the long-term.

 

Using these 5 tips would help you achieve brand consistency. For more on this topic and other business strategies, visit http://positivitychange.com/

This Week in Positive Change Management : Getting out of the Middle

01182016 No More Middle

This is the time of your when people start looking at how they can have a better New year than last year. Oftentimes, receiving a promotion is at the top of the list. Well, there are certain things that are holding you back. I have four tips that you will get out of the middle and ascend up the corporate ladder.

Focus on your brand and not just a job

Unbeknownst to me, I focused on my brand early and I professionally benefitted from this. When you define your personal career brand, I looked at how my transferrable skills fit in with other positions. It is an egregious error to only identify yourself as your job. This is dangerous because you become confided to that box. Had I been so narrow to only economic jobs, I would still be a GS-11 economist. Once a layoff hits, then you are through. Identifying your transferable skills repositions yourself as a brand because you can work in other areas.  Your career brand transcends your job.

Obtain certification

Certification distinguishes you from the rest. Take my field, project management for example. Earning your PMP certification separates you from everyone else. PMP requires a certain amount of work experience. You don’t see many young or middle-tier professionals with PMP certifications. Furthermore, obtaining certification means that you are a self-starter. This gets you noticed internally and externally.

Expand your network vertically

The one reason why you’re stuck is because all of your networking friends are at the same level. You know everyone you’ve started with me but nobody one or two levels above you. That’s horizontal networking and that’s problematic when you truly want to advance. Find a professional organization and attend the formal functions (Christmas party, annual charity ball, etc.). These events have the board members and senior officials. Once they know your name, they can become your mentors and sponsors guiding your career upward.

Get out of career inertia

I broke out of career inertia by leaving my first fed agency. I saw career inertia upfront. I left my economist position to grow. Although disgruntled, many coworkers stayed because they were comfortable. Now this year, my formal agency is moving out of state. Those same coworkers are going right along with the agency even though they hate leaving DC. Career inertia sneaks up on you. You start getting comfortable then make excuses for your fear. Getting out of the middle means putting yourself in motion.

These four tips will help you lay the groundwork towards realizing this year’s career ambitions.

Evaluating Your Personal Brand Annual Performance

MoreyPublishing-Blog_BuildingBrands1

Evaluating your annual personal career brand performance is essential. If you want to realize positive change in your personal and professional lives, you must take a hard look at how you’ve performed this year. Here are 5 things that you should use to evaluate your annual personal brand performance. They are: stickiness, retention, responsiveness to change, tactical planning and strategic planning.

Stickiness

Stickiness is how well people remember you. Let’s ask a question: do people remember you for something? It can interpersonal skills, programming, project management, HR or marketing? Is there a trait that whenever someone mentions your name, that person immediately says ‘blank’? If so, then you’ve achieved stickiness.

Now let me ask a deeper question: have you attained subject matter expert status in your discipline? www.ISixSIgma.com defines subject matter expert as ‘individual who exhibits the highest level of expertise in performing a specialized job, task, or skill within the organization.’ Becoming a subject matter expert is the highest level of stickiness. When you’re at this level, whenever someone asks for an expert, they think of you. You are exploiting your core competency when you are a subject matter expert. If you have achieved this status, document the process then list the 3-5 steps towards maintaining your subject matter expert for next year. It is one thing to get there. It is another thing to maintain your status. You want to increase your stickiness in the New Year.

Retention

Retention is indispensable towards leveraging your personal career brand. You retain people based on  delivering high quality work. Ask yourself this question: have people continually returned to you for a particular thing? Retention is the next step after stickiness. Once you’ve reeled them in, do they stay? Evaluate if you are retaining your clientele. If there are less people coming to you to solve their problems, then you should reexamine your personal career brand. Furthermore, if you are retaining more people then take these lessons learned and use them as inputs for next year’s plan.

Responsiveness to change

Change is inevitable. It is the only constant; and, your personal brand must be responsiveness towards it. Ask yourself how flexible are you? Rigidity hurts your career brand. Don’t fear changing your plan because you are not the same person on January 1st as you will be on December 31st. Your personal career brand must incorporate the latest industry changes in order to stay relevant next year.

Tactical planning

Tactical planning is short-term planning that supports strategic (long-term) planning. It’s used for non-annual planning (quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily). With tactical planning, you have to evaluate how your personal brand has performed this year. Has everything you planned for resulted in above-average performance? Has your brand gained more momentum with each successive quarter? Which things have worked for you? Conversely, which things haven’t gone accordingly to plan? When you dissect underperformance, has these things been corrected during the next quarter? If you cannot improve, then drop it this year. Answering all of these questions are crucial towards measuring the effectiveness of your tactical planning. If your tactical planning has exceeded your expectations, then document 3-5 steps per your time metric (quarter, month, week, day) to improve your personal career brand for next year. These steps will be the inputs for your strategic planning.

Strategic planning

Strategic planning is long-term. It is the high-level planning that you do when you start the year. The first objectives that you’ve drafted serve as a guide throughout the year. The tactical planning objectives support the strategic planning ones. The question you should ask yourself is has this year’s strategic planning positioned you towards a better New Year? If it hasn’t then what steps are you taking towards guaranteeing that you’ll sidestep the pitfalls? If it has, then document 3-5 steps per your time metric (quarter, month, week, day) to strategically improve your personal career brand for next year?

You will use these variables to examine the effectiveness. If you are underperforming or ineffective in any of these places, then you can correct these problems now instead of letting them follow you into the New Year.

 

This Week in Positive Change Management: Employing the Three Cs to Improve Your Personal Career Brand

Now more than ever it is imperative that any professional has a personal career brand. It is no longer, just do your job and update your resume. The average person will have in between 7-10 jobs in his lifetime. You must actively manage your career to find the next job; hence, the importance of creating and maintaining a stellar personal career brand. The three Cs are clarity, consistency, and constancy. They are necessary towards creating your best personal brand. The combination of these three guarantees that you’ll attract the people and employers in your target market.

Clarity

Dictionary.com defines clarity as ‘clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.’ It is essential that you get clear about who you are, but, more importantly, who you ARE NOT.  Clarity provides you with an opportunity to thrive as a specialist rather than merely survive as a generalist. It is better to know what you are not because you can create clear boundaries. You don’t want to transmit mixed messages, thereby, diluting your brand. Clarity communicates a clear message of what you do. For example, if you are in HR, you don’t want people coming to you about sales & marketing. The next step is to identify your competitors.

Scanning the professional landscape to see what your competitors are doing, and more importantly, what they are not doing is critical towards how you’ll position yourself to stand out. Learn from your competitors’ mistakes and capitalize upon the areas that they aren’t already in. Being the first mover in an unsaturated area, positions you to become an expert. For instance, if you’re in HR but there aren’t as many people working with newly returned war veterans, then this is a niche where you can employ your transferable skills and become an expert. Once you’ve used clarity to identify your competitors, you can then you can focus on marketing your competitive advantage to the world.

Your competitive advantage is the one thing that you do better than anyone else. Having a clear definition of this advantage will attract more people and opportunities. In HR, do you compile benefits packages in a way that new employee understand? Your ability to translate industry-specific jargon into layman’s terms without diluting its content is your competitive advantage. You can convert this into a special niche being seen as an expert. Once you’re seen as an expert, more people will come to you.

Consistency

Consistency is defined as ‘steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.’ In order to keep current in this increasingly global and competitive landscape, you must be consistent. This means consistently communicating the same message offline and online. Take some time to review how your professional brand comes across because it’s imperative that you are consistent in both areas.

Make sure that your resume and LinkedIn profile are the same. If you’ve attained a new certification or a promotion, list them on both. An outdated LinkedIn profile sends an inconsistent message. For example, if you’ve been promoted from HR Specialist to Senior HR Specialist, you must list this change. Recruiters who might be interested in you for one job, may not know that you have a new job or certification. It would be bad for your professional reputation if a recruiter contacts you about a specific position but learns that you’re in another position. Recruiters talk with other recruiters who might work at the company that interests you. You don’t want this kind of mistake to precede you before applying for a job. Putting the most recent information on your LinkedIn page guarantees that recruiters can see if you are the best fit for a potential job.

Constancy

Constancy is defined as ‘uniformity or regularity, as in qualities or conditions; invariableness.’ Being highly visible online & offline to your target market is indispensable. There are many ways to increase your visibility to ensure that the right people see your talents. Offline opportunities include joining meetups, alumni chapters, and professional organizations. In addition, you can be visible through business cards and stationery. Handing out your personal business cards is an effective marketing tool generating high visibility. Furthermore, you can send thank you letters using your own stationery. Regarding online visibility opportunities, you can register for LinkedIn professional groups, follow people on Twitter or like Facebook pages of companies of which you want to work. Moreover, you can also start a blog. Continuing with the HR example, you can write about interviewing new applicants, dispensing benefits information, handling attrition and completing retirement packages.

Creating a Communication Plan to Incorporate the Three Cs

A great way to merge the offline and online visibility tools to achieve clarity, consistency and constancy is by creating a communications plan. Your plan manages how, what, why, when, and where to deploy your offline and online strategies. For instance, you decide to post weekly HR-related articles in your LinkedIn feed. This action achieves clarity (HR), consistency (on message) and constancy (weekly). Your communications plan ensures that you regularly do something constructive towards promoting your personal career brand. Incorporating three Cs of clarity, consistency and constancy guarantee increased demand for your personal career brand.