Personal Branding

Joanne Shawcross,

Picture this: your laptop has broken down and you desperately need it fixed. A friend recommends a computer technician and he promises to get it repaired within three hours. The techie turns up to collect said laptop looking disheveled, unshaven and wearing a dirty t-shirt. Are you having second thoughts? Of course you are.

The technician’s appearance has not been consistent with what you had heard about him from your friend (that he is very reliable and extremely good at fixing computers) or with the prior telephone call you had with him (during which he sounded serious and professional). If you had any other option you would probably go back on your decision to hand over your laptop to this scruffy looking individual, but instead you go with it, and you are hugely relieved (and not a little surprised) when your laptop arrives back three hours later as good as new and working faster than it ever had before.

The technician’s ‘brand’ had preceded him, by his ‘brand’ I mean his reputation, what people think or say about him. It made you make that first call, and it almost lost him a client when he showed up at your door. Everyone has a ‘brand’ whether they are aware of it or not. People formulate perceptions about you and your business according to what they see and hear about you. In the recent financial environment, more and more people are realizing how taking control of your reputation and brand can help you stand out from the crowd and succeed in your professional and personal life. This ‘Reputation Management’ is often referred to as Personal Branding and can be summarized as the process of taking control of your brand and making sure it is saying what you want it to say.

To achieve successful personal branding you need to establish your own “Unique Promise of Value”. The world’s foremost personal branding expert, William Arruda, puts it very clearly; “What makes you unique, makes you successful”. You need to establish what your strengths are and focus on promoting them. Thus your “Unique Promise of Value” is what makes you stand out from your competitors.

William Arruda is also the founder of Reach Personal Branding, the US company which has trained Joanne Shawcross, Mallorca -based Personal Branding expert and the only qualified Reach Personal Branding Specialist in Spain. “Consistency is key for a successful brand”, said Joanne at a recent keynote speech she gave in Palma. “You need to consistently project the same image of yourself and your business in order to create a brand that is strong and lasting.” That includes your physical appearance, your web presence, your logo, everything that people hear about you and what you put out there for them to see. Think of Volvo cars, for example. When you think Volvo you probably think ‘safety’, most people do. And that is not a coincidence. Volvo has worked very hard on their brand and has successfully managed to make it so that people consistently relate their cars with safety and reliability.

Joanne can take you or your company through a complete personal branding process, from assessing what your brand is currently saying about you, to identifying what you want it to say and putting strategies and systems in place to make it so. A vital and extremely interesting part of this process is the 360˚Reach Assessment. This entirely confidential process involves getting your friends and colleagues to reply to a series of questions describing what they think about you and what you do. It is a reputation-based analysis of you as a company or individual. It sheds light on the perception people have of you, often with surprising results. Joanne can then help you assess the results of the test, and see whether you are projecting the image you want to be projecting. This involves every aspect of your personality, professional life and image and so gives you an honest and complete analysis of your personal brand as people see it. In short it gives you critical, anonymous feedback about what people think about you; invaluable insight you are not likely to get any other way.

For some it may provide a harsh awakening, for others pleasant surprises and a great confidence boost. “The 360˚Reach Assessment can really validate a person’s brand, as well as highlight areas that need extra work”, said Joanne. “And the great thing is that it can be carried out with individuals or with whole teams, so companies can see how best to improve the way their staff represents their brand. It also sheds light on each member of staff’s individual assets and can help managers understand them better and ultimately boost productivity.”

I interviewed Joanne over a coffee at one of the Cappuccino cafes in Palma, the Mallorca grown luxury cafeterias that have recently opened branches in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Now there’s an example of a strong brand. Think of Cappuccino and you think luxury, quality, style and exclusivity. You know that whichever branch of Cappuccino you go to you are going to experience the same unique promise of value. It´s the kind of place you can take a potential client to and know that they will be suitably impressed, provided you don´t turn up looking like a disheveled computer technician!