Someone once described me as “sporty spice”, due to my enthusiasm for cycling – but I remember feeling slightly annoyed that I was not seen as the “posh” one. I was reminded that how we perceive ourselves is often at odds with the outside world. Casting aside the Spice Girl archetype, I have yet to answer the burning question of what do I really, really want?
The New Year creates an impetus for self-reflection, to change things we don’t like and resolutely adopt new behaviors. Visions of “me2.0” seem more plausible, especially as the holiday provides useful distance from which to imagine new realities. As I think about rebooting, I draw parallels with the branding process.
Personal branding is a hot-topic, especially given the competitive job market, our culture of social self-promotion – even the dating scene. With so much introspection, it’s no coincidence that Christmas through New Year is the seasonal peak for online matchmaking.
However, applying the principles of brand strategy to myself seems so much harder. Just how important is it to differentiate? What are my “core attributes”? Do I really need to “position” myself?
From a process perspective, conducting a personal ‘brand audit’ seems like a good exercise – at the very least to figure out who I am. What are my strengths? What could I improve upon? And what should I stop doing immediately?
But here’s the rub. I’m confronted by the reality that if a “brand” is largely what the audience perceives it to be, then surely mine is shaped by my friends and acquaintances! Does this mean I should canvas Facebook for their immediate opinions? Should I refer to LinkedIn endorsements as a litmus test of my abilities? How does one survey such data? Perhaps my next status update should be “what do you think of me?” or #whoami?
I’m not sure I’m brave enough to face a personal critique just yet. On the plus side I live in a country known for reinvention, where I can dust myself off and move onwards and upwards despite what others might think.
At least I’ll know who my friends are – right?