ello SOTGC community,
It’s with great honor and joy that I introduce you to the wonderful Karen Kang. I was introduced to Karen through my amazing guest author and marketing guru, Natascha Thomson. Karen is a branding expert. For those of you who are wondering how branding applies to enhancing and moving your career forward, I will say this after having read her book: “Branding Pays”…it has EVERYTHING to do with the upward trajectory of your career.
For those of you entering a new company, just starting your career, or even wanting to establish some job security, I’d highly suggest getting her book, going through her steps, and learning from the examples she lays out on how people have used her steps to advance their career.
When did branding as a “career enhancer” become big?
Tom Peters wrote a Fast Company article talking about it 16 years ago called “The Brand Called You.” This was the start of the concept for personal branding in one’s career. I myself have a background in corporate positioning and branding as a former partner at Regis McKenna (which is most well known for having done branding and communications for companies like Apple and Genentech). What I’ve learned is that positioning is the foundation for branding: how do companies position themselves in the market and how do YOU as an individual position yourself in your company? It was really only a few years ago that I started promoting my “5-step system” for personal branding as it was originally developed for company branding.
How can individuals go about discovering their personal brand and how to use it to advance their career?
In my book I talk about two factors that make up your personal brand: “cake” and “icing.”
Cake = your rational value
Icing = your emotional value
Cake is THE foundation for your brand. People have trouble being able to focus on and articulate WHAT they are about. If you can’t communicate what problem you help solve as a resource for your company, no one can figure what your value is. Find what makes you special; find a category or functional niche that you can lead, then strengthen and promote that talent. If you don’t have a special expertise or leadership brand, then you are expendable to your company, and being expendable is NOT going to get you job security.
Icing is your unique personality and soft skills. Are you humorous, are you a communicator, are you great at leading diverse teams and inspiring others with your passion? These are all skills and attributes that make up your “icing.” This is just as important as your “cake.”
In your corporate life, look at your own circumstances both within the company and in the industry in general. Ask yourself: How does the industry affect my company? What are the key challenges facing our company? How can I impact the success of the company based on these factors? You need to have both a macro view and a micro view of your environment and how you are valuable in that context. If you’re having a hard time promoting yourself, don’t think of it as self-promotion, think of it as education and engagement. You need to educate your peers, management team and the industry about your unique value. Develop examples that illustrate your strengths and communicate your brand by telling your STORY.
Why should everyone define, and build their personal brand?
Because NO one, except you, is going to do it so that it best highlights your strengths and uniqueness. Trust me, whether you know about it or now, there is a “brand awareness” in your company already about you. It may not be called that, but people have branded you based on your actions and their perceptions of you. So do you take control of that brand and make sure it’s a proper reflection of who you are and what you stand for? Or will you let others build a potentially weak or wrong brand of you in your company? You must have a strategy in place, and you must make sure your brand is authentic and strong. Also, the worst thing you can do for your “personal brand” is to play the victim. There is no room in the success of your career or your company to have the victim mentality. Set yourself up for success, and you’ll achieve it.
What is your mantra?
Stop and smell the roses. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.