What names come to mind when you think about business? Possibly Steve Jobs or Elon Musk?
How about a “family brand man”? The first name that comes to my mind is Danny Tanner (yes, of Full House fame). What about church? Joel Osteen popped into my head.
What do all these people have in common? You know their brand, and you could probably describe it for them in three words.
Let's take Joel Osteen, for instance, since Jobs is overdone. I don't know this guy, nor have I ever seen his sermons, and yet I know his brand. His brand comes across as genuine, honest, and sincere. Because of this, you believe his message is about you and not him. This gives you the ability to believe in something bigger than Joel Osteen. If his brand was about him, even in the slightest, no one would go see him, and the stadiums would be empty.
What about TV's most iconic dad, Danny Tanner? Three words: kind, loving, and fun (cheesy).
What makes this one so interesting is that if you’ve ever seen Bob Saget's comedy, you know he’s downright raunchy. It almost makes it shocking to see "The Brand" melt down live before your eyes.
And yet every time I see that man, I still think of Danny Tanner. Hell, he played that character so well it ruined his ability to expand his acting roles. Don’t believe me? Name another relevant character Bob Saget has played since.
So how do you build and create a personal brand that strong?
Step 1: Self Analysis to Find Your Special Sauce
Brainstorm Your Brand
Self-branding starts with self-analysis. You need to know yourself and the attributes that set you apart from others.
The DISC personality assessment is one of the most comprehensive personality tests, and it's a great place to start.
In the DISC system, personalities are categorized into four colors: Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue. All of us usually have personality traits that show up in each of the four categories, but most people have a dominant color.
Red-dominant people tend to be more aggressive, assertive, and goal-oriented. These are the folks who will get the job done, move on to the next thing, and spend little time on minutiae.
When you think of yellow-dominant people, think of Bart Simpson (also yellow in color). Yellow-dominant personalities like to be the life of the party. They make people laugh and win people over with charisma and charm. Like their red counterparts, they tend to spend little time on the details.
Blue-dominant people are the opposite. They’re very analytical in nature, and what reds and yellows lack, blues have in spades. Measurement, statistical analysis, and deep-thinking lead blue-dominant decision making and direction.
Green-dominant people match the color and personality of our childhood friend Kermit the Frog. These people are caring, compassionate, empathetic, and the counterpoint to their red counterparts who just want things done!
Here is a link to a free DISC personality assessment. This will give you a great start to understanding your strengths and how others are likely to perceive you.
Name Your Brand
Once you have some idea of what your personal brand of selling is, go ahead and give your style a name.
Because if done correctly it will tell your internal and external customers what your strengths are, which in turn sets expectations.
The Challenger Sales, by Matthew Dixon, popularized not only the four-color wheel, but also branding of a sale’s “type.” Many companies now know what a challenger salesperson looks like and even seek them out.
You can do this on your own sales team and within your own territory. Are you a “trusted advisor,” a “challenger,” a “collaborator,” a “transparent seller,” or an “innovator”?
It’s important to remember that this is not meant to be a label that limits you, but instead is a message of clarity.
Where The Challenger Sale has it wrong is in stereotyping salespeople. Since the book’s title included “challenger,” many people and companies thought that every salesperson was, or should be, a “challenger” salesperson.
No two salespeople are alike, and no one method is better than another. It’s about playing to your strengths, understanding your weaknesses, and embodying what works.
The name of your brand is primarily for YOU, and the value of what you bring is for others!
Tagline Your Brand
On a similar note, you also want to create a tagline for your brand. Find three words that encompass your best attributes. The key is to pick the things that uniquely define and encompass you, in addition to words others can relate to.
For myself, I landed on transparent, consultative, and creative.
An odd thing happens when you define yourself in this way. In some cases, you may pick a word that doesn't perfectly describe you, but slowly and surely you embody it because you strive for others to perceive you in that way.
By creating a tagline and focusing on just 3 words, you learn to commit to those words. It's a powerful exercise to understand your industry and territory needs and then develop and hone in on those unique skills within yourself.
Step 2: Feedback Analysis – Get Ready to Be Vulnerable!
Okay, so now that you have a pretty good idea of what your brand is through self-analysis, it’s time to test it with feedback from others.
The Email Challenge
This exercise takes a good bit of courage, but I promise it will change your life!
Make a list of ten to twenty people who you believe know you well professionally, and ask them to describe three things they see as your strengths and three areas of weakness.
The email can simply say that “they are among the chosen few whom you respect” and “you’re on a mission for self-improvement.”
Let them know you are writing because “you want to know how people you know and trust perceive you, both good and bad.”
Test and Tweak Your Brand Power
No good scientific method is complete without listening to the feedback you received, learning from it, and using it.
You might find that you have to redo or rethink your original brand based on the feedback of others. Or you may see that you need to define your brand more clearly. Whatever the case, expect the feedback to have an impact. If you don’t need to change something, then you probably weren’t really seeking or listening to your colleague’s feedback.
Embody Your New Brand
Once you have identified and defined your personal brand, it’s time to embody it. This may mean adding some visualization to make it real. You can come up with a logo or image that embodies your brand and your mission.
This can be just for you personally, or it could be something you share with your sales team, if you’d like them to understand your key attributes better.
Elon Musk is famous for this. As a young startup, SpaceX had a giant mural of Mars hanging at the entryway. It depicted earthly inhabitants and skylines that mirrored the largest cities in the world.
Why? Because he wanted everyone to believe the mission was greater than what most can even imagine. He embodies doing the impossible and changing the landscape we’ve grown accustomed to.
Self Branding: Putting it All Together
Now you know how to build a powerful brand, but how do you avoid the pitfalls and pigeonholes that plagued Bob Saget?
First, ensure your brand truly embodies who you are and, more importantly, who you want to be.
Part of the problem with Saget’s brand, is that he wasn’t consistent and entirely true to himself. His true self, his stand-up, was in conflict with his most public brand, Danny Tanner, because it wasn’t who he wanted to be. You need one brand, and you need to go all-in on it. So make sure it’s who you are, and who you want to be.
When you spend time understanding the strengths you have now and the strengths you need to develop, you, in turn, create core principles that will guide you to success.
What has worked for the biggest TV personalities and consumer brands can work for you too. Start with a goal of describing yourself in three words. Then analyze through feedback and trial and error until you’ve landed on something authentic.
Then, once you have identified the qualities and strengths that seemingly resonate with your core tribe, focus your actions around them. Be the brand, and embody the characteristics that connect with people.
1. Choose a personal brand that embodies who you are and who you want to be.
2. Identify the qualities and strengths that describe your brand.
3. Validate that it’s accurate.
4. Embody those characteristics and be the brand.
It’s a simple process, but it does take work.
From Danny Tanner, Joel Osteen, and Elon Musk, we can learn that we need to define who we are, how we want others to perceive us, and what our "brand" is — and also that it matters.
Without a strong personal brand, you're just Bob Saget getting roasted at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central by a bunch of washed-up comedians. And that's sad!
For more on personal branding strategy and other similar sales tips and ideas check out The Pirate's Guide to Sales - A Seller's Guide for Getting from Why to Buy on Amazon.