Reflecting on 2016
It is the day before New Year’s Eve and like so many other people, I am reflecting on the past year. For me, I review the year from three perspectives – my personal life, my professional life and what I will consider my community life. This year has been challenging from all three perspectives – but what has happened over those 12 months leading up to this day, is that progress has been made – in all three areas. It has seemed like the bumps in the road got bigger this year than in previous years, but the rewards were bigger somehow, too. I have reached clarity and contentment, the first step in personal branding.
Maybe that is what life is about, finding your way through the forest until you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe that is why we have an ending to each year and a new beginning. Or maybe that is just what happens as you get older and wiser. Well, either way before I get too philosophical, I want to get back to my message.
I have been asked to give a speech at the beginning of the New Year on building your own personal brand, so I started to think about my experience with Corporate Branding . I have been very lucky to have worked on branding projects for big and small companies and have learned a great deal about brand identity (logos), brand architecture (essence, purpose, promise) and brand key messages, along the way. One thing that I realized while working on other company’s brands is that my own company, Red Bamboo Marketing, needed to spend more time refining our own brand architecture and key messages in 2017. That is how I feel about personal branding – it gives you a chance to spend time on yourself, being introspective and building yourself up. When you do that you build everything else around you up too, whether it is the company you work for, your family or your community. So there is it: my goal for 2017, focus inward.
One thing that I didn’t get to in 2016 that I wanted to was to develop a new eBook on Brand. I was so proud of myself for completing my first eBook earlier this year on Marketing Operations, but for some reason, like so many other things that you want to do for yourself or your own company, this book on brand kept getting de-prioritized. Everyone knows the shoemaker’s son story, right?
Our Brand Essence
Our company’s brand story started in 2014 when we were first establishing ourselves; we identified our Brand Essence early on in our first year in business– Genuine Growth. It is not a tagline – it is our North Star. The great thing about our Brand Essence is that it came naturally and unanimously. It was clear to us that we all felt the same way and really identified with that message. It is something we knew in our ‘gut’ before we really even started to grow as a business. So, when I talk about refining our own brand messages, I mean that we need to really take that essence and make sure that it is living and breathing in all of the work that we do. It seems simple, because we are not a large corporation – but at times throughout the year, the daily tactical execution of tasks gets in the way.
Genuine Growth is slowing down – it is taking the time to see if what you are doing is working. It is planning and thinking more. It is reflecting on data that is right in front of you. It is also cutting through the clutter to see the important parts of the work that you are doing. For us, our commitment in 2017 is to do just that. It may mean focusing on fewer clients, to make sure we are getting it right, it may be saying no to clients more especially when we know something they are asking for just won’t work. It is “growing up” as an agency.
So how does this relate to personal branding – well it certainly does. Seems there are a lot of things that you learn in business that totally relate to your personal or community life. Finding your North Star is one of them. What is your Personal Brand Essence and how can you live that every day and develop it over time. That it something I will be thinking about over the break to prepare me for my speech in January.