One of the most powerful aspects of marketing is the concept of Personal Branding. Before I explain more of this let me back up a little bit and give you some history.

Branding actually goes back thousands of years but we associate the word “branding” with stamping a hot iron logo on the rear end of a cow. This would brand the cow and claim it as a property of a certain rancher. In the old West, before there were fences that kept them in a certain area, cattle would wander all over the place in search of food. This became the only real way to designate whose cow was whose.

Branding Cattle was the only way to claim them as property

In our modern era we are very familiar with brand names such as McDonald’s, Nokia, Samsung, Coca-Cola, and thousands of others that occupy a specific little niche in our brain. Each one of these brands represent a specific product or service that we think about. There’s even a website that shows the top 100 brands of any given year and it’s a fascinating study.

Companies large and small all have a brand related to them. But a brand is not a logo or a corporate trademark, it’s “a gut feeling in the mind of the consumer*”. It’s what a person perceives the company to be which may be far different than what the company wants them to think they are.

If you want someone to do work on your furnace or air conditioner, you already have someone in mind. If you want to go to a bakery and get a delicious treat, you almost certainly have a place in mind. The same is true with just about anything else in our society.

It’s also true with individuals. You yourself have an aura or brand associated with you and what people think of you, or have a gut feeling about you. Every person that knows you has already categorized you as to who you are, your personality, your likes and dislikes, the things they don’t like about you, the reasons they would call you an invite you to a movie or call someone else, the type of car you drive, etc. etc. etc.

If you can narrow down the essence of who you are to one word, what would that be? Think about this for a moment. It’s very important. It may not be exactly who you are at the moment because you may be a lot of things to a lot of different people but when it comes to personal Branding, you need to think about occupying a single word in a person’s mind.

If I tell you to think of your favorite car-what is it? If I tell you to think about your favorite color, what is that? The same is true with your favorite movie, your favorite song, your favorite software program, your favorite tires, favorite Chinese food place, favorite vacation spot, etc.

If you can work and spend your entire marketing efforts on trying to occupy a single word in people’s minds, you will become very successful. The key is though you cannot occupy more than one word. Someone will always dominate a single word and it isn’t you, if someone else.

Many of these principles were taught to me by Diane Diaz and Bret L. Simmons and I have to give them credit for how they have affected my life with this. It was kind of an epiphany to wake up one morning and realize I was on the wrong track. I was not focused on what was most important to me and what was the one word that I wanted to occupy people’s minds.

Bret said that his single word is “leadership”. For me the word is “inspiration“. My goal now is:

To inspire People, Leaders and Companies to be the Best that they can be and to have a Positive Influence in the World.

I really can’t think of a better thing that I could be doing something that fits in with my personality and personal desires.

This epiphany is so revealing and freeing to me. I don’t have to be anything more than inspirational. I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to know everything about everything, I just need to work on being the most inspirational person that I can be.

You have got to look inside yourself to see what single word you would like to build your life around. Maybe its decisiveness, management, loving, support, fun, humor, pioneering, strength, or a million other terms. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s important to you. No matter what principle you want to base your life around, the vast majority of the world can use you.

They don’t know where they’re going and if you do, you’re way ahead of the rest of them.

Start right now and decide what word describes you and what your personal brand should be. The go out and be it!

(*The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier)

Initiated from a discussion at FullSail.edu