Developing your "brand" at work

I work with people who are rarely seen without a Diet Coke in their hand. I know people who shop exclusively at Trader Joes. And many I know would choose Starbucks over another coffee whenever they have the option. What is it about a particular soda, store or coffee that engenders such loyalty? Why are people so committed to one brand? And what does branding have to do with your job?


Originally branding was a way to identify your cattle – ranchers would stamp their mark on their herd so if they intermingled with another herd, they could identify their own.

But now a brand is more than just a mark on the hindquarters of a cow; it’s the personality or perception of a product. The term has evolved to cover companies, products and even your own personal image.

Why should you have a brand?

As companies will tell you, the competition for customers increases every day. Just like a product’s brand is its promise to its customers, your brand is your promise to your employers or colleagues.



How do you develop your “Brand Experience?”

If you were a product, how would you describe your qualities?

  • Think of three to five words to describe how you want to be known at work
  • The words should be influenced by your personality and your field
  • Make sure your words are genuine – this isn’t about creating a new persona. It’s about focusing on the parts of your personality and skills that are most relevant to your job

Some examples:

  • “Creative” - Helpful for an art teacher, generally not appropriate for an accountant
  • “Refreshing” - Important for a soda, and it could be a great brand for a receptionist
  • “Professional” - Boring, but important in a time when it seems like so many people are bothered by the thought of doing their job
  • “Entertaining” - Good for a clown, but also probably helpful if you’re a pediatrician or a pediatric nurse.

Live Your Brand

Similar to how a company can’t just tell you they’re the best – they have to build a relationship with customers, you don’t put these words on your résumé and assume everyone will believe you. You have to live your brand.

Now that you’ve thought of the words you want to describe yourself at work, think about ways to put them into action. Keep a list of the words by your desk (you can hide them in your desk drawer so no one else can see them) to remind yourself throughout the day how you want to be known.

Realize it’s not just an image you’re creating. You aren’t doing this for everyone else so that they think better of you. This is who you are.

Looking to next week:

But what if you aren't new to your job and you feel like it’s too late to brand yourself? What if you feel like you’ve passively already been branded – and even worse – what if you’re not happy about your brand?

This blog is the first in a 3-part series about branding:

  • Come back next week and we’ll talk about re-branding. It’s a trickier subject, but it can be done.
  • Then the week after that, we’ll talk about whether the word “Christian” should be a part of your professional brand.


Adjusting to a new job (aka: I just want to figure out how the copier works)

I just dashed off a monthly financial report in about 2 hours. When I first started this job, and started doing this report, it took me the better part of two days. I didn’t know where to find the information I needed, I was inept at the program we used, I didn’t know how to update the graphs.

Now, instead of a daunting task that I dread at the end of each month, I can fit it in at the end of a day without any pressure!

You know what it's like: you've put the hard work into finding a new job and it is time for your first day. You walk in excited and confident, and within minutes, you're confounded by the copier as you try to make copies of HR forms. You feel like you have to ask someone for help with everything.

If you've been at your job for a while, think back to your early days when you didn't know the organization's "best practices" for how to start a project. Now you breeze through project startup without a second thought. Or think about how you used to be so confused by the org-chart. Who is your boss' boss? What does that person across the room do? Now you know exactly who to go to for any question you have.

If you're new at your job - take heart - there's always an adjustment phase. Here are a few tips to speed it up:

Take notes like it's your job: get a notebook, write down observations and details as you go through the day. Who is responsible for what? Where are documents stored on the shared drive? Who really seems to know what's going on? At the very least, write a summary to yourself at the end of each day about what you worked on and who you worked with. Review your notes or summaries every few days till the knowledge rests firmly in your head.

Volunteer for specific tasks: Don't just say "I am happy to help however" say "I know you need help writing that press release, I have experience with that, could I take the first stab at it and send it to you for revisions?" You'll get to know more about a project and let people know what your skills are.

Give yourself grace: in a few months, you'll have a handle on these tasks and be on to new challenges (a quick survey of those around me says it takes anywhere from 6 to 18 months till you really feel like you have your feet under you).

So relax - you'll get there soon enough. And if you're already adjusted - help the new gal. Show her how the copier works, and introduce her to the person who really runs the office.