In the words of Huey Lewis, “The power of love is a curious thing: make one man weep, make another man sing.”
(Too true Huey, too true.)
Which is why my blog today is about how one person’s perception of your personal brand can differ from another’s. And it all boils down to people’s own brands, because all the things that make them who they are shape their view of the world, and that’s the ‘reference system’ they use to judge your personal brand clues. Here’s some examples to explain:
What do you think when you see a messy desk? Some see it as a sign of creativity, that the person is too busy or too important to bother with the small stuff - like filing. Others (and as an occasional ‘neat-freak’ myself I’d include me in this) see it as a sign of disorder, that the person isn’t on top of things and can’t work effectively.
One can be seen as a positive reading of the clue to someone’s personal brand, the other could be seen as negative.
And what do you think when someone’s email asks for a ’read receipt’? Personally, it makes me feel like I’m being spied on and can’t be trusted (hmm, one for Mr Freud I think). Others, particuarly those who use read receipts themselves, might see it as being organised, making sure information is read by those who need to read it.
Again, two opposing views but both legitimate.
Or as we enter the Christmas season and some start to adorn themselves with yuletide accessories (think tinsel earrings, Santa ties and badges of Rudolph with a flashing nose) what clues do they give? Do you read them as, “This person’s obviously a lot of fun and enjoys themselves,” or as, “That’s totally unprofessional and they should spend more time on their work and less on mucking around.” (Or what I think, which is, “Please don’t let me get stuck in a lift with them!”)
Every clue people get to your personal brand can be taken different ways.
But the moral of all this is: so long as you’re sure that the clues you’re giving authentically represent your brand as you see it, that’s all there is to it. You’ll know yourself if something is out of kilter.
When I met Colin Smith for the first time we settled down to chat and he pulled out a Moleskine notebook and a Mont Blanc pen – two things that appeal to my own personal brand, so he gained instant brownie points. But as we ended our conversation he handed over a thin, under-sized, poorly printed business card which was entirely at odds with the two other clues I’d got about his brand. Now, because we’d hit it off so well (a glass of Rioja will do that) I mentioned it to him and Colin replied, “You know, when they arrived I opened the package and felt disappointed. I knew they didn’t hit the mark and you’ve helped me realise why.” Needless to say, he’s trashed them and ordered a new lot!
When all’s said and done, people with similar brands to you will view your clues in the same way and buy into your brand. And people who view them differently might not buy into your brand at all (and even Huey’s power of love can’t change that!) But if you’re so different anyway, that may not be a bad thing.
To read my other blogs about perceptions of your brand, click here.