This article is written for employees who would like to advance their career – whether you’re a cashier in a small family-owned store, or a senior manager at a multinational corporation.
Since the early 1900s the lines between company, product and personal brands have become increasingly blurred.
Henry was a man who built a company that made motor cars – the fame of that man, together with his now global corporation and the various models it produces – are all centred on the name Ford. Steve Jobs will long be remembered as the founder of Apple Inc. and the mastermind behind the iMac, the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and iTunes. I struggle to picture golfing legend Tiger Woods without the Nike swoosh on his cap, and whenever I see a red Ferrari driving down the road I somehow expect to see Michael Schumacher sitting behind the wheel.
At the risk of oversimplifying it, a brand is a word or a concept in the mind of the customer.
For example when people think of Volvo, they might think of “safety”.
So, um… why all the talk about products, personalities and branding?
When do we get to the part about me taking my career to the next level ??
Branding, my friend, IS the secret to taking your career to the next level!
As an employee – at any level of any company – you’re a brand within a bigger brand.
Once you realise this, and begin to strategically position yourself within the bigger brand of your organisation, your career will begin to generate unprecedented upward momentum. When you begin to formulate and apply a personal brand growth strategy that is aligned with your company’s brand, you’ll unlock a positive shift in your career that will propel you (with ever-increasing force) to the next level and beyond.
Okay, here’s where a disclaimer becomes necessary. Personal change and career advancement are processes – not events! To this end, I recently stumbled across a quote that beautifully fits with the overall ‘Keep Climbing’ theme of this blog:
“The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs… one step at a time.” ― Joe Girard
My immediate reaction to this quote was a stunned, low-toned “Wow!”
At the time I was standing at the express till with a ready-meal in hand, alternating between chatting with a friend who is on holiday in Bali and flicking through my Facebook feed. Everything about that moment was centred on maximum speed and minimum effort – and yet, here was some dude saying that there are no short cuts to success.
My second reaction to this quote was, “Who the heck is Joe Girard?”
It turns out that Joseph Samuel Gerard (his actual name) is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s greatest salesman – having sold 13,001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership between 1963 and 1978. Think about that for a moment: 13,001 cars in 15 years.
Joe averaged 6 NEW car sales a day over 5,418 days of unmatched sales excellence!!
His personal best was selling 18 cars in a single working day, and a mind-bending 174 cars in a month.
Seriously, if nothing else, the guy certainly deserves to have his name under a success quote.
But here’s the VERY important point to remember:
Joe Girard was a powerful personal brand within a larger company brand.
Because Joe was a car salesman – and because I’ve already mentioned a number car brands – allow me to use a car analogy to explain how to effectively position your brand within your organisation’s brand:
Pictured above is a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.
Joe probably sold a lot of these cars towards the end of his career. This model was one of the few American high-performance vehicles available at the time (comparable to many of the 1960s muscle cars) and was capable of outstanding handling.
The Brand Experience
Now imagine that this car is the company that you work for – i.e. it promises a certain customer experience as it moves customers from one position to another. The type of customer that is drawn to your company’s brand is looking for speed and power (and is probably not overly price sensitive).
As the brand within your company’s brand, you are the engine.
It’s your energy and effort that ultimately moves the car (company) forward – preferably in a way that meets (and hopefully exceeds) the customer’s expectations. Take another look at the picture, and consider what the customer might expect from you as an engine.
What would he expect you to look and sound like?
How would he expect you to respond when he puts his foot on the accelerator?
Let me help you out here:
The engine that got the job done in this car was a monstrous 350 cubic-inch V8 that delivered 185 horsepower – and rumbled like a thunderstorm. It put out a top speed of 149 kilometres per hour, and could propel the Camaro from 0 – 100 km/h in under 10 seconds (which was apparently impressive back in 1977). Look, I don’t know much about cars, but I’m pretty sure that Camaro drivers would have found that more satisfying than the quieter, more fuel-efficient engines that they regularly saw fading away in the rear-view mirrors.
Build Your Brand
In my next post, I’ll share with you my process for developing an authentic personal brand that will accelerate your career advancement. Until then, take some time to reflect on the personal brands around you – those of your family, friends and colleagues – and don’t be afraid to get other people’s perspectives on your own personal brand. An often fun and safe way to do this is, is to ask people:
“If I was a car, what make and model do you think I would be – and why?”
Your personal brand and your company’s brand are two separate but interconnected systems that – when properly aligned – feed off each other, and contribute to shared success. Once you’re clear on what your personal brand is, you can then figure out how to effectively use it within the culture of your workplace.
Feedback is awesome and always appreciated, so if this article revved your engine in any way then please let us know in the comments section below.
May the fuel be with you!