Don’t. Your understanding of this topic will give you the skills to propel your career forward.When we think of brands we often think of big brand names like Coke, Nike, Ford, Apple - the list goes one. So when I tell you, that Brands are the secret to your success and happiness, it’s not at all surprising that you may be confused as to why.For the purpose of this blog, when I talk about brand, I’m going to be talking about your personal brand and the employer brand. In terms of personal brand, this is what wins you the great job, it’s what you stand for, your “why” and the way in which you present this to the world, both in person and online. The employer brand is an organisation’s ticket to having great people in their business and, as we all know, it’s the people that make a business a success.Before we delve in let’s just clear up a few myths about branding:
- A brand is not a logo. A logo is a logo. It is just a symbol of a brand. Just like a wedding ring is not a marriage, it’s a wedding ring and just a symbol of a marriage. A marriage is sooo much more - like falling in love, falling out of love, the honeymoon, the mortgage, the laughter, the tears, the in-laws!! The same is true for a brand. A brand is so much more than a (hopefully) visually appealing trademark.
- Brands are not only products and services. People are brands, too. In fact, some of them are very big brands. Think Madonna, Obama or Justin Bieber.
What we now understand about branding is that it’s about meaning. We no longer differentiate products or services solely by their product attributes, but by the values and beliefs they hold true. We no longer buy, or buy into, a brand because they are cheap or shiny or pink or blue; we buy in because we believe in what they stand for. Sara Lee, for example, is all about delighting people every day. When we buy a Sara Lee product we are buying into a little bit of pleasure, as opposed to artery-clogging saturated fat and sugar!Simon Sinek has a great TED talk on how we don’t buy what people do, we buy why they do it. Brand is not about whether a product or service, or you yourself, are attractive, although that does help. If I buy into you, I buy into what you stand for. This shift in our thinking, with brands now being all about meaning, translates to how we, as professionals, need to think about, care take and nurture our own brands. Now let’s have a look more closely at personal brand being the driver of happiness and success.Just quietly, this is one of the reasons I love LinkedIn so much. Because LinkedIn is your personal brand online and it’s all about your “why”. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest you read my recent blog about LinkedIn (download the free guide too, if you like). In this post I talk about how in the LinkedIn profile summary we talk about what we stand for, what we have achieved and what drives us. As we discussed previously, branding is about meaning and then how you present this meaning to the world. LinkedIn is set up to allow us to do this easily (and visually through our profile picture and rich media on our pages).In today’s market your brand is so incredibly important. Basically, competition is stiff. It is a very fluid market. People move jobs often (Millennials expect to stay in each job for less than three years**) meaning there are constantly people actively looking for work. Couple this with the fact that Employers look to employ Passive Talent (people who are not actively looking for a new job but could be persuaded). The end result - employers very often have many candidates and potential candidates to choose from. Gone are the days that an employer is simply looking for someone who’ll work from 9 to 5 and just “do the job” - they are looking for someone they like, and more importantly, someone with values aligned with those of the business. Through the interview process these days, many questions are less about technical skill and more about who you are as a person. Employers are looking for a cultural and values match. Employers also want someone who will represent their business and brand well.
Did you know that 93% of recruiters will review a candidate’s social profile before hiring them? And 55% have reconsidered a candidate based on their social profile - 61% of those reconsiderations being negative!
If a job seeker doesn’t have a strong online profile, chances are they will also be overlooked for many opportunities, as many great jobs aren’t advertised. Progressive employers have internal recruitment teams, or work with agencies that prefer not to advertise but to seek out people with the right competencies. How do they go about seeking out these right people? Through online searching and LinkedIn. If you don’t look good online, if you aren’t presenting your “meaning” and values well, chances are you’re missing out.
But it’s not only job seekers that should be concerned about their personal brand. If you are a professional, chances are people are going to be looking at your LinkedIn. And if you want to be enhancing your brand, getting new clients, new employees, looking to become an expert or thought leader in your space, you need to have strong online brand. You can do this in many ways - through a website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. but the undisputed platform for professionals is LinkedIn.
So in short, having a strong personal brand online will see you advance your career without “the hunt” or “the hustle,” meaning both success and happiness. Some may debate that both success and happiness are very personal concepts and their meanings vary greatly from one person to another. I agree with this point entirely. However, what I will say is that, whatever both success and happiness mean to you, most would agree that both are about creating meaning and purpose in our lives. This is why the modern interpretation of brand, being so closely linked with meaning, can assist us to create personal success and flow on to create happiness in our lives.
Secondly, let’s look at Employer Branding. Why is this so incredibly important? Because people join a brand, they don’t join a corporate entity - they join because they believe in what the company does, and stands for. They are not joining for an ABN number or a corporate structure. Generally, there are many companies that do the same thing. There are lots of business that make computers. Why is it then that people want to work for Apple? Because of what Apple stands for in terms of innovation, the customer experience and for the opportunity to work for a company where you’ll find great leaders and great perks. Branding is also becoming more and more important to secure top talent. Talented people want to work for a company that they believe in. In Australia, where we have the luxury of an incredibly low unemployment rate, we don’t work for a business because it will give us a pay check. Of the many companies we could work for, we choose a business that we believe does great things and will do great by us. We also want a brand that will look good on our CV and propel us forward.
So, you get it, a good brand attracts good people. It also retains good people, as people are motivated by doing something of value. Great companies and brands provide that opportunity.
How is this the secret to success and happiness and how does this create happiness and success? When you create a business with solid values that does something of meaning, you provide an opportunity for people to join an organisation and deliver meaning. The result is an organisation made up of a group of highly motivated and engaged individuals. These individuals, fuelled by a sense of purpose, drive business success. These happy and engaged employees both create, and enjoy, success.