As I embark upon 2013 replenished with post-holiday optimism and energy (not to mention a slightly bigger tummy!), I’m keenly aware of my own burden in evolving my professional development to the next level. Elevating my profile of being a “principal designer” for a major enterprise software firm towards a industry-level thought leader shaping discourse and guiding critical insights for future designs. In a word, it’s about being a sought-after “brand”…how am I defining and shepherding my brand, my own distinctive philosophy and repertoire of design experiences, for productive gains for myself and my constituents?
This got me thinking that a brand, whether of yourself or of a product/service (like Nike or Zappos), involves three core interrelated aspects:
* Presence: Do you (or the product/service) have authentic visibility in the minds of your target audience? (i.e., mindshare) Are people aware of you, recognize you, comprehend what you do and stand for? Do you, in a sense, register in one’s consciousness, worthy of recall and reference later? And at what scope and magnitude? Just your initial manager, or even further, including the CEO and other Exec staff members? What about partners and customers? etc. etc.
* Impact: Do you (or the product/service) have some specific targeted impact, or outcome that’s tangible and demonstrable (preferably repeatable) that people can point to? What’s that impact upon someone’s life, whether in work or in life? Basically, have you done something of merit? What have you delivered and achieved that’s real?
* Value: Do you (or the product/service) have some quality of lasting value, that’s of deep relevance and significance, and of measurable benefit, whether in dollars or in emotive gains? Will people miss you/your offering and see diminishing returns after your departure? How can that be captured and transferred back into a productive loop with your target audience and related stakeholders? How do you enable a mission and purpose of your company or industry or market?
Perhaps as you think about your own professional brand (and that of your product/service offering), you may consider these integral aspects of presence, impact, and value. Their interrelationship leads to a powerful binding force that authenticates and substantiates the brand as something lasting, not just fleeting.