Brand: Leveraging Action for Outcomes

Leveraging Action for Outcomes

Brand: Leveraging Action for Outcomes

Have you heard of Bruce Lee? I imagine the majority of you reading this will have. The late great Bruce Lee leveraged his martial arts ability and charisma to forge a successful movie career. Yet one of his greatest skills? Branding. Lee knew his audience, knew his talents, and knew how to thrive at the intersection of audience and talent. Many of us weren’t alive during Lee’s cinematic prime but we know his name and face because of his brand. The brand lives on 40 years after Lee’s death.

When asked about his philosophy on success, Lee said, “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.” Great advice, I think, especially for those of us who know that one’s brand can make or break one’s success in business. So do yourself a favour: for the next few minutes absorb what I say here about brand. I’ve been focused on personal branding for the last 20 years and now coach others on the topic. Brand is why you’re reading this piece in the first place.

What’s Useful

Harrison Monarth, a coach and contributor at Harvard Business Review, offers this thought about brand: “In high-performing organizations, at certain levels, everyone is exceptional. To clearly differentiate your value and what you bring to the table, you need to do more than have a good reputation.” He’s right. Brand is what distinguishes YOU from your talented colleagues and competitors. The most useful thing you can do for yourself as you establish and sustain your brand is to not confuse it with reputation. Reputation is built on how others perceive you; not simply your performance at work; but their interactions with you or your online presence. You do not have unlimited control over your reputation. But your brand? That’s a different story. Brand is what YOU want people to see and know about you – what you value, your passions and interests, what makes you unique and different from others. You have control over branding, but it requires intentionality on your part. As Monarth reminds us, reputation is about credibility while brand is about visibility. The intentionality in branding is all about aligning your actions with the outcomes – the visibility – you seek. You and you alone establish, tweak, and sustain your brand.

What It’s Not

That said, a great brand will not overcome a shitty reputation. Harsh but true. There are many celebrities I could name if you don’t believe me. While you many have all the talent in the world and the greatest publicist on the planet on your team, a poor reputation will nullify the power of your brand. Let me be crystal clear on this point. Assume everyone is watching you all the time. I brand myself as “Unstoppable.” This has never meant that challenge or adversity won’t come my way, nor that it might be seen by many, but rather, that I will never let the challenge or adversity STOP me from achieving my goals or objectives. If I made excuses for the challenge and I let it stop me, it is THIS that would ruin my brand – not the fact that I encountered the obstacle in my path.

CEO of Brand YOU

Bruce Lee understood that being distinct or unique was at the heart of a strong brand. Your uniqueness is YOUR BRAND Foundation. Ask yourself these four questions: What is my expertise? What am I passionate about? What makes me different? And, what do I want to be known for? Your answers to these essential branding questions – what you add to the world – will be shaped into your branding plan… your action plan. Always act (and speak) with a clear understanding of how both will shape your brand.

Remember, a great brand is measured by current impact and legacy impact. You’ve never seen a Bruce Lee film, but you know exactly who is and what he was about.