When I work one-to-one with clients or run workshops for entire teams, the first step we take towards defining their personal brand involves dragging out their ingredients from the depths of their personality cupboard (sounds fun, eh?!) That means digging around in their minds to discover all the things that make that person tick – from their values to their beliefs, their reputation to their behavours, their skills to their image. The result is a cornucopia of words that describe who they are, the best ones of which we use to create their personal brand.
Having been through the process many times with many people, I’ve found one word that appears on people’s lists more often than not – and it’s ‘passionate’. Bearing in mind I work with people who run their own business or are current and aspiring leaders in their company, it’s a no-brainer that they’d be passionate about what they do.
The problem is that ‘passionate’ is starting to lose its impact.
The whole point of your personal brand is to say what makes you stand out from the crowd, but if everyone in that crowd is passionate, you’re about as individual as a cloned sheep. And it’s not just ‘passionate’ that’s lost its oomph; ‘strategic’, ‘professional’, ‘innovative’, ‘creative’…all these buzz-words are seeing their batteries running low, reducing them to a mere hum. (Feel free to leave a comment with other examples of over-used words – be good to know what you think.)
Which isn’t to say people aren’t these things – they are! The trick is to describe yourself authentically using brand ingredients that add to, not detract from, your individuality. Let me explain…
I recently asked someone what three words she would use to describe herself. The first was ‘honest’ which, as someone who holds this value very strongly, I find appealing. But honest was how I’d heard lots of people describe themselves, so from a brand point of view it was weaker than it might be.
When I quizzed her as to what her honesty was all about, I discovered that it all boiled down to a moral compass within her that, if it wasn’t aligned, would stop her doing something – even if it meant she might lose out. Contrast that to my manifestation of honesty, which is that I tell it like it is (they don’t call me The Antidote To Yes-Men for nothing) and you can see where the individuality comes back into the brand.
So maybe it’s not that ‘passionate’ has lost its passion, but more that it needs fleshing out to really get to the heart of the matter.
If you’d like to read more of my blogs on the subject of language and your brand, click here. And it would be great if you’d take a second to share this with the people you know by clicking on the buttons below – it makes my day when I find out more and more people are reading these blogs!