There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of your ‘personal brand‘; how you always need to be aware of it, how you should project it and how you should protect it.
It is talked about in marketing circles as if it is a new thing and that it is borrowed from the world of products and companies, which all have their own branding that we can easily relate to.
The comparison to products, services and companies can be a little disturbing at first – surely we are human beings and not products (many may disagree!)? After all we have feelings, thoughts, opinions, beliefs, passions, we want to be appreciated and valued and we definitely don’t want to be treated as commodities.
If we forget about the comparison to products and companies it gets easier and we can start to appreciate what our personal brand really means. Our personal brand is our story, it is what we represent, it is what we believe in, it is what motivates us, it is who we are. If you deal with me this is what you get.
The challenge is to properly project our story so that others get what we are all about.
In ancient times the personal brand for our family was captured in our family crest or our coat of arms.
A coat of arms is described as a unique heraldic (a visual way of signifying rank) design on a shield or surcoat. A surcoat, and subsequently a coat of arms was used by medieval knights to cover, protect, and identify the wearer. The coat of arms symbolises the heraldic achievement which consists of a shield with a crest and motto.
These coats of arms came into general use by feudal lords and knights in battle in the 12th Century. By the 13th Century their use had spread beyond the battlefield to become a kind of flag or logo for families in the higher social classes of Europe, inherited from one generation to the next.
Your coat of arms or crest was effectively a way of telling a story about your family and what they represent.
- the core blue colour in the shield represents Loyalty and Truth (good traits I’m sure you will agree!)
- the use of yellow represents Generosity (the drinks are on me ..very true)
- the Chevron (the upsidedown ‘V‘) denotes Protection. Apparently this is often granted as a reward to one who has achieved some Notable Enterprise (woohoo!)
- the crescents signify one who has been ‘Enlightened and Honoured by his Sovereign’ (hmm..what did we do to deserve this?)
While this captures and projects a ‘story’ and a set of values and beliefs for my family in many ways it also sets a standard and creates an expectation about our behaviour – something that we all need to live up to.
Ironically the use of the coats of arms evolved over time and started to be used by commercial companies, which are effectively the origins of the modern logo.
Telling your story today
Today we don’t carry around a shield (just a business card..) and we don’t wear a suit of armour so communicating our story can be a little bit more challenging!
The face to face personal experience has always been the most important part of our story. How we look, how we dress, how we speak, how we behave and what we do are powerful ways of telling this story. Those who interact with us get to experience our ‘personal brand‘ up close and hopefully they will carry with them a positive version of our story.
For those at a distance our modern day coat of arms is our blog, our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts. This is where we get a chance to show our photo, detail who we are, what we have learnt, what we have done, what we believe in and then bring all of this to life through our regular conversations and interactions.
In Ireland alone there are 1.4 million LinkedIn users. The most common activity of these users is looking at other people’s profiles. I wonder why..
How is your coat of arms looking?