Even the Best Gifts Need Proper Wrapping!

After developing the substance of your personal brand and landing it, you need to package and market it to your audience (employer, group, organization).

Answer these questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? How do I want to be perceived? Most of us don’t think of ourselves as “a package,” but all of us are packages (i.e., “she is so plain, don’t depend on him he will never deliver, he is just boring”). Here is the trick: you want to make sure that you control your packaging (the look, feel, and experience) and the message that illuminates from it.

Looking at it another way, since we are in the holiday season, think of your personal brand as a gift. Because it is! You are offering your time, expertise and talent to serve the needs of the marketplace.

Now think of gifts you have received over the years. The first thing you always notice about a gift is how it’s wrapped. Does it come in a solid package covered in colorful paper with a fresh, original pattern and a shiny bow on top? Maybe a nice personalized card attached? Or is it stuffed into an old shoe box with a ripped-up edition of last week’s Sunday funnies halfheartedly thrown around it, held in place with fraying twine?

You have to package it right if your want top dollar

While this example has been exaggerated for effect (especially the second part), honestly, how many times have you received a gift and had your heart sink before you unwrapped it because of the dull, generic packaging? That’s the main reason we also want to pay less for generic products on the shelf – the packaging is uniformly dull. When we see a package that shouts “Energy, Invigoration, Crispy, Clean, Colorful, Beautiful, Sophisticated, Expensive,” we get excited when it comes as a gift, and we are willing to pay more when it comes as a product for sale.

In essence, good packaging helps speed the purchasing decision and leads people to pay top dollars (and that’s what you want your packaging to do right?). Packaging is how you express your personality. So think about how you want to be perceived, and what kind of competitive edge you want your packaging to send.

Remember, the way you decide to package your unique brand should be evident in everything that you do and attach your name to, the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you dress, the content and appearance of your resume/cover letter, and your award winning interview.

Authenticity above all else

Also remember, the market can spot a phony a mile away! Your brand needs to reflect your core substance. Build your brand around your genuine strengths, not the ones you think the market wants to pay a lot of money for right now. You will always do better in the long run by being yourself, both in business and in life.

Nailing your brand is not something you do once and then walk away. It is a constant process of fine-tuning and adjusting your brand to the changing needs of the market and your changing interests, abilities, experiences and skills. Here are a few simple things you can do to help nail your brand today, tomorrow and far into the future.

Yes, you can tighten your bow in 6.5 minutes

In the next 6.5 minutes, check an RSS feed which offers up-to-the-minute news and information about your area of branded expertise (or sign up for some!). In the next 6.5 hours, read a newspaper or listen to/watch a radio or TV news broadcast, so you understand how current events may affect the way your brand needs to be packaged.

Even tighter in 6.5 days

In the next 6.5 days, place small notes to yourself reminding you of your personal and professional goals and aspirations in conspicuous places around your home, office and car so that they are always top of mind. In the next 6.5 weeks, create a “30-second Super Bowl commercial,” a 30-second pitch that powerfully sums up your branding message, like the multi-million dollar commercials which air during the Super Bowl telecast every year.

The amazing will happen in 6.5 months

And in the next 6.5 months, step “outside the zone” and do something good for yourself or a friend, relative or colleague. Doing good generates good karma, plus if you constantly focus on your brand you run the risk of “overthinking it” and turning your package into something overly contrived and forced.

If you still doubt the importance of nailing your brand, consider a huge branding gaffe made by one of the greatest marketing organizations of all time, Coca-Cola. In 1985, Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognized and successful brands, changed the formula of its signature beverage to meet what the company thought was growing consumer preference for a sweeter cola. Coke drinkers everywhere were outraged by this inferior product called “New Coke,” sales sharply declined, and three months later Coca-Cola reintroduced the original formula. Coke regained its dominant position in the global cola market that it holds to this day.