As controversial a figure as she was during her political life, we can all think of a good few politicians today who would love to have a personal brand as powerful as that of Margaret Thatcher.
Everyone knew what she stood for and the unwavering set of values by which the “grocer’s daughter” lived her life. Indeed, it is often said that the former Conservative prime minister’s CV only contained two words and they were simply, ‘Margaret Thatcher’. Even six years after her passing in 2013, she still has one of the strongest personal brands that has ever existed.
While the next leadership contest or general election will undoubtedly see some polishing of the potential candidates’ personal brands, it will be far more difficult for some of the electorate to shed the opinions forged over the past six months. A brand can be built over years but, much like a reputation, it can be irrevocably tarnished extremely quickly.
The naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough is another instance of someone with an enduring and authentic personal brand who has been able to use his popularity and influence to bring about change for the better. He reportedly helped convince government to levy a tax on single-use plastic as well as be an effective catalyst for a 53 per cent reduction in consumer use of single-use plastic, which has been dubbed the “Attenborough effect”.
When did you last consider what you stood for and what perception people might have of you? Here’s an interesting exercise: insert your surname in front of the word ‘effect’ and what image would form in their mind’s eye? Someone who has been able to perfectly prepare and position the organisation to compete in the digital economy or someone who has allowed the company to stagnate and fall behind? Whichever one it is, it is part of your personal brand.
If no-one has ever heard of you in your sector or industry, that is your personal brand
Even if we don’t live our lives in the public glare, we all have a personal brand. It is an immensely powerful tool when it comes to career progression as a good one can undertake a great deal of the hard work for individuals. While the concept is far from new, social media and the always-on, 24-7 world has meant that our brands are there for everyone and anyone to see, warts and all, online and offline.
Those looking for their next career move should never under-estimate the importance of personal brand. Bear in mind if no-one has ever heard of you in your sector or industry, that is your personal brand and it certainly isn’t going to help catch the eye of headhunters and prospective employers.
While a brand can be nurtured and polished, no-one is entirely in control of how they are perceived as everything we do can be open to misinterpretation. But the more authentic the brand – and the more aligned your actions and behaviours are with what you claim to stand for – the more difficult it will be for anyone to get the wrong idea.
Hence, being true to yourself at all times is one of the most powerful ways to build your brand.
For practical advice on elevating your personal brand, visit: https://tinyurl.com/