Brands evoke responses. Talk to anyone who loves their Starbucks
coffee, or hates their car; loves their Apple iPod, or hates their internet
provider. When you think of your favorite or least favorite brands, certain
feelings and attributes come to mind. These represent the brand. The same
is true for people.
When you hear the name Joe, you have an impression of the Joe-brand, good
or not so good. When Erin is assigned to your team, you may figuratively
breathe a sigh of relief or roll your eyes. It's the Erin-brand that evokes
your response. What about your name? What reaction does it elicit from your
boss, coworkers or clients?
We expect brands to demonstrate their attributes, or brand promise, not
once or twice, but every time we encounter them. Inconsistencies in
performance can damage our brand relationships and cause us to select other
brands. With people-brands, it means we promote, fire, assign projects and
compensate based on that brand performance.
Of course, we may forgive an occasional slip, seeing it as an atypical
hiccup from a brand we otherwise love. For me that happened with Disney.
I'm a Disney fan, traveling to Walt Disney World once or twice a year. But
a few years back, the magic was tarnishing. The parks weren't quite as
clean, the staff not quite as friendly, the experience not quite as
promised, or what I had grown to expect.
Since Disney had the equivalent of banked good-will in their brand
relationship account with me, from years delivering on their brand promise,
I tried a few more trips. Happily it turned around. But brand relationships
we once loved can be diminished and good-will accounts can be overdrawn. It
happens at work, too. Previously strong relationships can become bankrupt
with inconsistent or poor performance.
Whether emails or hallway hellos, meetings or project plans, ideas or
feedback, you imprint your signature with each action. Every encounter
informs people what to expect from you. And these impressions, good or not
so good, create brand "you" at work.
Remember first grade when you proudly printed at the top of the wide-ruled
paper your name so everyone could see it? We may not write our names in
big, bold crayon on our work anymore, but make no mistake, your name is on
everything you do.
People who are winning at working know that. They're like great product
brands. They're reliable, dependable and authentic. They deliver their
unique brand attributes, not once or twice, but day in and day out; not
just on highly visible or politically aligned projects, but on the routine,
mundane ones, too. And they're as personable with the person who can't
promote them as the person who can.
People who are winning at working understand they are a unique brand with
specific gifts, talents and attributes. Their name is their icon. Their
brand promise is delivering the best of who they are. Want to be winning at
working? Deliver the promise in your brand.
© 2006 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
Receive a copy of 21 Winning Career Tips (a free download) at
http://www.winningcareertips.com. Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication,
Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a columnist, writer and speaker. Visit http://www.nanrussell.com.