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Design a Precise Personal Brand

By Diane Dunton and Marla Mosser

We think of brand as it relates to products, but brand identity extends beyond products to personalities. It's about the expectations, image and perceptions sparked in the minds of others when they think of a product, a logo, or in this case, a person.

It's no surprise that big personalities have clear and powerful personal brands, but "personal branding" applies equally as powerfully to each of us in the workplace. It isn't something that we can or should leave to chance. Like a mosaic, we can design, build and achieve the personal brand we want associated with us.

The Brand Called 'You'

"Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding," says Tom Peters, author of the best-selling books In Search of Excellence and Brand You, "We are CEOs of our own companies: 'Me, Inc.' To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called 'You.' "

Building Your Brand

Here are five steps to building a powerful personal brand that will move your business forward.

1. Determine Your Ideal Personal Brand

Where and how do you add value to your position, your team, and your organization? Who are you? What are five key qualities that you want to be known for? What makes you stand out?

2. Determine Your Actual Personal Brand

This means know others' perceptions of you. Be aware of the collective perception of you that already exists. You can start by conducting a 360 assessment where you would receive feedback from your boss, your colleagues and your direct reports, if possible.

What attributes are sparked by the mention of your name? Be prepared for some negative feedback and try not to get defensive. You can also listen to what others say when they introduce you.

Seeing the gap between your ideal and actual brands will give you some direction on how to close it

3. Live and Exude Your Personal Branding Message

Your behavior, body language, confidence, level of interest, understanding of others, how you dress, how you keep your workspace, all say a lot about you.

Post your personal branding message as an inspiration and constant reminder to yourself. And before you send that inflammatory email, ask: "Is this how I want to brand myself and be known to others?"

4. Promote Your Brand

You can do this by cultivating relationships and building your network, both internally and externally. Be visible. Stop texting and emailing and make real-life human connections.

5. Continuously Evolve Your Brand (Retool, Rethink and Renew)

Your personal brand is a living breathing entity that requires continuous vigilance and management. Always look for ways to grow, develop and find opportunities to contribute in new ways.

Remember, if you don't pick your own personal brand, others will do it for you. My challenge to you is to start focusing on it now in order to unleash your future potential.

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Diane L. Dunton M.S., president of Potential Released Consulting Services since 1996, has over 25 years of business and HR experience. Diane has received specialized training with National Training Labs, the Gestalt Institute, Center for Creative Leadership, the University of Michigan's Organizational Career Development and the Center for Reengineering Leadership programs. She has developed programs for over 25,000 employees and leads more than 20 workshops annually offering executive coaching, professional individual coaching and programs on leadership and strategic planning. She has appeared before conferences of up to 9,000 participants and her work has appeared in both U.K. and U.S. management publications, including the Society for Training and Development's Team and Organizational Development Sourcebooks (2003-2006).Learn more about Diane at PotentialReleased.com.