When your identity doesn’t equal your image

27Apr09

As a personal brand, you connect with your audience in various ways.  You might be an online personal brand exclusively and never meet your audience.  Or, you may interact with them at work primarily through telephone calls.  But, for most of us, chances are, we interact with our target audiences up close and in-person at least some of the time.   So, your audience gets to experience you face to face.

Have you ever met someone that you had heard good things about only to discover that the experience of being with them did not live up to their advance billing ?  This is a case of the image not equaling the identity.  The image was made up of your expectations.  The identity you experienced was totally different.

To be a great personal brand you first operate from strengths, the real you, your true identity.  You develop those strengths.  You select a career and an organization that values them.   This postions you to make your greatest contributions and have the greatest satisfaction. 

But being positioned to succeed is not the same as succeeding.   Success requires that you also communicate with your audience better than your competition does.  You have to help your audience consistently see the best of the genuine you. 

I once had a senior client whose CEO did not consider him strategic enough.  He was very action oriented and that was the personal brand he was conveying.  We fixed it.  We inserted the word “strategic” more frequently into his board presentations.  We made sure he always couched his recommended actions more carefully within the context of the corporate strategy.  In a very short time, he was viewed as strategic.  Ta-da! 

Why did this work?  The reality is that my client was already a strategic thinker.  He just jumped into action without doing a good job of conveying his strategy.  His identity and image did not match because he was not managing his image.  He was not helping his audience see the strengths they valued

You cannot borrow a brand – you cannot sustain an image over time that is not the real you.  But you can be sure your audiences are seeing the best of you.

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