The following is an excerpt from “Reputation 360: Creating power through personal branding” (Palisades Publishing, 2011) Lida’s book on reputation management. Available in soft cover and ebook, more information is available here.

Now that we have an idea of what your current brand is, we need to think about your desired brand. For some of you, your current brand is exactly what you want people to be thinking about you. In that case, you may simply need to get more creative on how you market yourself to remain relevant and compelling. For others, though, your current brand and what you want to be known for don’t match. In those cases, we really need to think about and identify a desired brand—your legacy.

Let’s start with a few questions about you. Think about how you would like others to see you and feel about you, and answer these questions:

  • If you were a car, what kind of car would you want to be? Would you be a sexy sports car? Would you be a high-powered big truck? Would you be a family passenger van? What type of car would you want to be and why?
  • If you were a song, what kind of song would you want to be? Would you want to be a classic melody or a fast–paced, aggressive, heavy metal number? Would there be words in your song, or would it just be melody?
  • If you were a beverage, what kind of beverage would you want to be? Would you be an energy drink? Would you be a fancy Starbucks drink? Would you be an alcoholic beverage? Would you be a kid’s juice drink?

These questions are fun and whimsical, but they’re also important in giving you a sense of how you would like to project yourself. Are you a fast racecar, high-energy-drink-type person? Do you see yourself more as a family sedan, maybe a nonalcoholic, no caffeinated beverage that plays to a melody that’s a little bit more traditional? This exercise helps you get a sense of your desired personal brand and your style.

Another way to think about your desired personal brand is to think about the end. How do you want to be remembered? Imagine we’re at your funeral, and people who have loved you, worked with you and known you casually surround us. What would you like these people to say about the difference you made? How do you want them to remember you? What emotions do you want them to experience as they remember your life and contribution? You might want them to say things such as:

“She gave one hundred percent of herself to everything she did …”

“She made those around her feel welcomed, valued and loved …”

“He was a great father and husband …”

“He could always be counted on in a pinch …”

“She was the best (fill in the blank) I ever knew …”

Often, in working with clients, I hear them describe their current brands this way: “My current reputation is based on producing financial impact to the bottom line of the firm and quarterly improvements that meet expectations of internal and external stakeholders …” Then, when we get to their desired brand and this exercise, they get quiet. They say they want to be known as “a good dad.” Or I hear something such as, “You know, I want my staff to feel like I was always there for them, that I always had their backs.” All of a sudden, we start to hear authentic emotional qualities. Remember that branding is about emotions.

When you look over the list of things that you want to be remembered for, I encourage you to really focus in on the emotional words, the ones that create feelings rather than words that are tactical or strategic or have dollar amounts tied to them.

Now, take those words, feelings and thoughts and write five key words that reflect your desired brand. They may be the same five words that you wrote for your current brand, or they might be different. How do you want to be remembered?

Just as before, this may not be easy. We’re getting really close to figuring out your personal brand: what makes you unique and what strengths you have. You might already be seeing some patterns jump off the page!

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Your desired brand is the legacy you hope to leave after you pass. This legacy is set in your reputation and the connections and experiences others had with you when you were alive.
  • To help determine your desired brand:
    • Think of five key words that reflect how you want people to see you.
    • Think of how you want people to remember you and feel about you after you are gone.
    • Formulate your thoughts in terms of feelings and emotions, rather than words that are tactical or have dollar amounts tied to them. Branding is about emotions and feelings.