Last weekend, I was at a graduation ceremony for my niece who received her MBA. This was a really good event, with a respectful admiration for all of their graduates. I was interested in the comments of the commencement speaker, Mr. Harry Campbell. Mr Campbell has worked for years as a brand manager for Proctor and Gamble among other executive positions. He has recently published a book called Get-Real Leadership.
At the graduation, Mr. Campbell spoke about Self branding. He raised the issue of what it means to be a brand, and asked us to identify our own brand.
What does a brand mean? A brand is a product with a strong identification. When a brand is seen we know what it is. When we buy Kleenex, we know what we are getting. A brand is reliable: Kleenex is Kleenex, it doesn’t change from one box to the next, although the packaging may change. A good brand builds confidence. A good brand stands behind its name.
So, the challenge that Harry Campbell gave to the graduates and to the audience was: “What is your brand?” Can you describe your brand, your identity, what it is that makes you you day after day? When people see you or know you, what are they getting? Who are you? in 7 words.
Yes, describe yourself in seven words. What is your brand?
I found this challenge to be instantly interesting. We move around through our lives, thinking we are reacting to the many things that happen to us, and responding to the people and animals and other things that we encounter, but how often do we take the time to decide who we are, and to simplify that identification so that we can describe ourselves with seven strong words? How do we choose seven strong words that describe our brand?
This will take some thought, lots of ideas will come to mind, many will be discarded. 100 words to describe me would be easy. But 7? Which 7 are the best? Mr. Campbell suggested that we think this through ourselves, then ask some of the people who know us well to identify our brand. He did warn us that when we get the results from other people there will be one work that we will hate, and one word that we will want to deny. “That’s not me! That person doesn’t know what he/she is talking about! Where did that idea even come from? OMG!!”
So to the challenge. Once a student was taking a make up exam and she took it in my home, in the dining room. She looked around and stated that I was about information. It immediately sounded right to me and since then I have always identified myself as a person who is about information. So that is one part of my brand. I am an introvert and that may be part of my brand as well. I like variety and I include variety in my reading, and my music, and my activities.
I don’t think I have gone very far, I need to do a lot more work on this. But it is a good challenge. Let me know if any of you are working on something like this yourselves.