BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Stand by Your Brand

Posted by YWM on November 23, 2011

By Joan Grey, BPW Foundation Veteran PR Associate

I recently had the opportunity to attend the NOVA Women’s Business Conference at the National Conference Center in Leesburg. During the meeting I gained a whole new appreciation about how to think about branding.

Branding is a contemporary buzzword that means how you differentiate yourself or your business by having a clear, consistent, and memorable identity. For instance, Mother Teresa and Madonna have very different but note-worthy personas. Appearance aside, most people would not mix up these two women, though each has been able to attract and hold a large following (that has continued even after Mother Teresa’s death). And most people probably know something about the two, even though they have never personally met either woman. Mother Teresa and Madonna have distinctive brands, whether or not they set out deliberately to achieve that.

During the meeting we were able to select tags to attach to our name badges.  If you’ve gone to a conference, you know the usual labels: Presenter, Exhibitor, Board Member,–boring.  This conference offered the opportunity to brand yourself. Here are some of the choices that were available to add to our name badge: Official Smarty Pants; Trouble maker; Go green; OCD; Slacker; Know it all; I could be President; Plays well with others; I color outside the lines. We were instructed to pick up to four labels.  I chose just one, “Go green”, but came up with some ideas for tabs I would like to have seen: High energy, Re-invented the wheel; and Visionary.

What a clever idea!  And choosing labels was a great ice-breaking opportunity also. What makes you stand out from the crowd? What are the words or phrases you would choose for yourself? Are you a powerful, non-conformist, connect-the-dots person? Are you resilient or a trail blazer or progressive? What are your personal labels? And what’s the label for your company or business? If you asked friends and relatives; customers, clients, or stake-holders; how would they describe you? A word of caution—take care about defining yourself negatively, even in jest.

Here are three aspects of your brand to consider:

  • Reputation: What are you known for? What makes you valuable in the work place? What skills, talents, and expertise do people seek from you?
  • Connections and access: Who do you know?  Who do you know that knows someone else?
  • Influence: Can you move people to take action?

When an organization speaks with one voice, it reinforces its position in the marketplace. A job seeker becomes a more memorable candidate when she can articulate the aspects that differentiate her from others looking for employment.  With holiday party season upon us, put a selection of labels out at your events with the nametags and watch connections being made.   Or, better yet, respond to this post with your unique identifiers.

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