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Dress Your Brand for Success

March 13, 2011

Today everyone is talking about “Branding You” and indeed they should. It’s about using colorful words to describe your passions, your attributes, your personal personas and leadership qualities. Carefully chosen colorful phrases differentiate you from your peers and co-workers, so that supervisors, bosses and employers take notice. Why is that important in today’s marketplace and how does it tie into my previous career? I am a certified 360Reach Personal Brand Analyst and I can answer that question.

My name is Valli Swerdlow and over 20 years ago I wrote a booklet called “Dress Your House For Success”. The premise was based on several years of research that I conducted about what colors, textures, sounds and smells helped make a home stand out so that it would sell more quickly and at the best price. It was featured in major real estate, remodeling and home and garden magazines nationwide, newspapers like “The Christian Science Monitor” and “The Chicago Tribune”, and by syndicated real estate columnists. I reached further and sold thousands of my publication to homeowners directly by having it reviewed by their writers, columnist and editors. For example, the concept of “neutralizing” the color of wall and exterior paint to attract a wide range of buyers was years ahead of its time. Use of these concepts has blossomed into a new profession: today a Stager can be hired by homeowners to suggest well placed furniture, lighting, and accessories to increase the chances of selling a home quickly and at the best price, by emphasizing the qualities that home buyers are looking for and make it stand out from the competition.

Several years ago I became an Executive Leadership and Career Coach after 11 years in a career as an Executive Search Recruiter placing candidates in vertical markets, from entry-level positions to senior level executives. At that time using the standard “action word bullets” on resumes to demonstrate accomplishments such as “managed”, “oversaw, “directed”, and “created” were good enough to describe an individual’s strengths. To make you stand out from the competition anything but “neutralizing your image” was the goal of job seekers, to attract a wide range of potential employers. Boy, how times have so quickly changed! I realized that today, the same concepts used in staging a home need to be used to promote an individual’s attractiveness in the job market.

“Personal branding” has expanded into the process of distinguishing the essence of an individual’s relevant career attributes and communicating them consistently whether you are looking for a new job, evaluating a career path or navigating a promotion within your organization. Positioning yourself can take the form of using marketing materials to network such as your business cards and LinkedIn profile; writing a resume and bio; during an interview when looking for a new job; or evaluating your message, reputation and standing within your industry or at your current job to see if you are communicating the image you want to project effectively.

Vivid and expressive words can take the image of the average Joe or Jennifer from limp, colorless, pale and not memorable to dynamic, distinct, desirable and passionate. Who would you rather hire or work for? Who would a progressive corporation or organization promoting innovation within want to groom to become an emerging up-and-coming leader or put on the fast track for a promotion?

For example, anyone who has met me soon realizes that I am known for being creative, innovative and passionate. I love to use color, not because I want to be known as loud or gaudy, in what I wear. I love clear bright hues because it makes me feel confident, compliments my features and skin tones and when I wear them people remember me. Purple, fuchsia, pink, red, bright blue, black, navy blue and bright green are my favorites. I primarily use these colors when I paint and they make me feel happy and alive. Personal branding is not about what colors you like it is about what colors express your “personal brand”. Just as we can use color in our personal lives to express ourselves, we can use colorful, expressive language to reveal who we truly are and what strengths we can bring to the workplace.

I am a 360Reach Personal Brand Analyst and my passion is partnering with individuals to explore what their strengths are and how to stretch themselves so that they work at their peak performance. The results of my 360Reach Brand Assessment were such a gift to me. It collected 360 degree data, reported and described what my reputation was from the hearts and minds of people who knew me the best, which included: friends/ family, professional colleagues, volunteer partners, and clients. The results were incredible because it explained the persona brand attributes and interpreted them into “leadership competencies” such as: Visionary, Inspiring, Expressive, Relating, Developing, Resourcing, Solving and Delivery.

Owning and embracing my contributions and gifts is a process. Now I can use some of these phrases and sprinkle them within the messages I am communicating to reach and target specific types of corporations, individuals and organizations that appreciate and resonate where my “heart” is and what I represent. One of the messages and workshops I chose to embrace my brand is “Match Your Head To Your Heart”.

Neutralizing yourself is out. Why not explore your personal brand, identify colorful words that describe you the best, and give yourself a gift?
Personal branding is the process of distinguishing the essence of an individual’s relevant career attributes and communicating them consistently throughout the resume and interview. Personal branding is the process of distinguishing the essence of an individual’s relevant career attributes and communicating them consistently throughout the resume and interview.

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