Personal Branding: Refining Your Message
An analogy I’ve found helpful when talking to clients about personal branding is bumper stickers.
These short, clever statements and slogans seen on the back of vehicles as they drive by are able to powerfully communicate someone’s view of the world in a matter of seconds – a level of efficiency of communication that should not be overlooked.
For this reason, I often like to ask the question, “If you needed to communicate to the world what defines you and sets you apart using only a bumper sticker, what would it say?”
The Challenge Of Summarizing You
You can think of the bumper sticker concept as a mini elevator pitch or ‘idea hook’ that allows others to understand and respond without forcing them to sit through a long speech. If you represent your firm in a sales, service or consulting role and offer your services, products or expertise to prospective clients, this is critical.
Consider how you would refine and distill your purpose, passion, or “Why” into somewhere between three to ten words. Completing this challenge can be more difficult than you might think.
Many people tend to over-speak or share too much about what they do, believe in, or are trying to achieve. This is often a reflection of a lack of clarity that needs to be sorted out before communicating.
Of course, a lack of clarity isn’t the only reason people tend to be long-winded. Often, passion and exuberance can cause people to go on a long rant about their opinion or value and fail to notice the eyes of those around them glazing over as they slowly back away.
Thankfully, these uncomfortable situations are avoidable; you just need to improve your ability to communicate your message clearly and succinctly.
Refining Your Message Into A Bumper Sticker
Here’s a quick exercise to help get you thinking. (You can continue to refine your message from here, but this should serve to provide you with a good starting point.)
Instructions: Come up with a three-to-ten word slogan that will fit on your metaphorical bumper sticker. Once you’re confident with it, put it on your social media profiles, and memorize it so you can use it when you introduce yourself to someone at a reception, networking event, or business meeting.
Create your message by:
- Getting down to the central or core issue of what you do – no fluff, only substance
- Describing where the services you provide, and expertise you offer have had the greatest positive impact for your clients or organization. (You should also ask those who benefitted to say it in their own words in the form of a reference letter or endorsement on your LinkedIn profile.)
- Stating what, at your core, moves and emboldens you to act and be a change agent and force for good.
- Defining your “hill to die on”. (This is where you won’t budge on principle and where your values determine what others can expect from you.)
Understanding what sets you apart from others and how to communicate it can help you more than you may realize.
Every person and their company are talking about how unique and different they are, but if they fail to provide evidence, all their talk amounts to is often just another shade of beige – indistinguishable.
Don’t let that be you.