The Pathway to Excellence | Work | Social Purpose
A brand originally referred to the way a branding iron left an indelible mark on cattle, signifying the ownership of a farmer or rancher. In our world today, a personal brand refers to both the mark and measure of a person – how you express what is at the core of who you are and how you aim up to the expectations of others. It also refers to the reputation you earn that is connected to your story and how authentic it appears to others.
Each of us tells a story of our lives. For you, this story is partly a narrative of yesterday, today and tomorrow – where you have come from and where you are going. Your story also allows you to project to others the best versions of yourself – what you stand for and against, what you believe is important, and how you go about trying to set and achieve your goals.
What you should strive for, therefore, is an authentic brand. How others see you needs to reflect what is real and true and good about you. You will, therefore, need to adopt an ethical approach towards your personal branding – how you can build a reputation for doing what is good and right according to your core beliefs and moral code. A key part of this will be your honesty and owning up to and taking responsibility for your mistakes.
A personal brand of true influence and repute is created when good individuals act with conviction and character: they bring values and value to the lives of others. Your brand story will live in the minds of others, particularly because of how you demonstrate your strength of character and how it improves the lives of others. How do you show and use kindness, consideration, and respect to help others to feel as though they belong? How do you show the resilience, professionalism, and decision-making ability that underscores your performance? How does your honesty, selflessness, and service demonstrate your moral code?
You can help make the world a better, kinder and more productive place by living with love, integrity and genuine care for others. This is the best way for you to demonstrate your contribution to others. It will connect with what people expect of you and gradually becomes the cornerstone of your reputation.
Suppose you act in good faith and follow your beliefs about what is right and wrong. In that case, your reputation for good character will become part of your personal brand over time. Eventually, people will trust your ability to do the right thing. It will be this way not simply because you designed it but because it reflects who you are. This will allow others to see both your strong personal values and the tangible value you offer to them as a person of both character and excellence.
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
Your personal brand, therefore, is how you appear in the minds and hearts of others. It will take ongoing and conscious effort for you to build a personal brand that will make you and those you care for proud of who you are and who you are becoming. Your daily actions will shape this public appearance and how others perceive you as a result of it. That doesn't mean you should manipulate this image falsely by projecting an untrue picture of yourself to maintain a good personal brand.
Your personal brand will also require you to be professional. It’s critical to be genuine in your desire to achieve success as a team and as an individual, and for others to know this. Setting high standards for your own work and holding others to high standards shows how much you value performance. It’s also important to strive for excellence while maintaining modesty and good manners. Others will be more inclined to believe in who you are and your ability to perform as you establish a personal brand that says you are a quality person who generates high-quality work and that you encourage, support and inspire others to be and do the same.
Ask yourself the following questions as you build your personal brand:
None of us is perfect, so neither should your brand be perfect. No amount of superficial curation of your public image via social media or other means can make up for a lack of substance as a person or an inability to take responsibility and do things of lasting quality and benefit. For a while, you can fool yourself and maybe others as well, but in the end, your personal brand will be exposed if there is a lasting gap between what you say and what you do. People need to be able to trust you and rely on you. If you stand up for what is right, if you do what you say you will do, and if you seek not to harm others or to place your interests before the greater good, you can generate a strong and positive personal brand over time by building a reputation as a person whose values, intentions and actions align to create a positive social impact on the world around you.