Personal branding for career success
Personal branding for career success

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Personal branding for career success

1 What makes a successful brand?

In the Design Council’s Power of Branding (n.d.), they describe ‘four cornerstones’ of any good brand:

  1. The big idea – what lies at the heart of your company?
  2. Values – what do you believe in?
  3. Vision – where are you going?
  4. Personality – how do you want to come across?
A photo of the digital advertising signs in London Piccadilly.
Figure 1 Successful brands

Those cornerstones could equally apply in a personal branding context. In fact, they go on to suggest some very relevant questions you might ask yourself, including:

  • What is your offer?
  • What makes you different?
  • What is your ‘personality’?
  • What do consumers want or need?

Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is very clear about what makes one brand more successful than another. Watch this short video explaining his ‘golden circle’ concept:

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 2 Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Explained
Skip transcript: Video 2 Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Explained

Transcript: Video 2 Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Explained

What makes some companies more successful than others? It's the way they think and communicate. Most companies start their story with telling you what they sell, some will also tell you how their product is different, and then nothing.
Successful companies flip it around. They first tell you why they sell something-- because they believe in healthy living, then how? By handpicking the most nutritious foods. Only then do they tell you what they sell. Fancy a bite?
From why to how to what, that is Simon Sinek's Golden Circle. The effects-- companies using the Golden Circle sell more products for a higher price, and people like to work for them. Why it works? Our brain is like a Golden Circle.
The outer part does language ratio analysis, but the inner part is the one to actually take decisions. It does not respond to language and ratio. It responds to emotions, beliefs, dreams, to why. By communicating from the inside out, you get heard right where it matters, where decisions are being made. So about to tell your story? Then start with the heart. Start with why.
End transcript: Video 2 Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Explained
Video 2 Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Explained
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The link to Simon Sinek’s full TED talk on the topic is given in the Further reading [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] section at the end of this week.

Sinek’s Golden Circle model focuses on why a particular organisation does what it does, and why presenting this clearly to customers can lead to greater success. In Activity 1, you’ll consider how to apply this approach to yourself.

Activity 1 ‘What do you do?’

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

In many social and business situations, people ask us ‘What do you do?’ Take a few minutes to think about how you currently answer that question and write your thoughts in the box below. For example, you might say ‘I’m a teacher’, ‘I make architectural models’, ‘I’m in accounts’.

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Now watch this second Simon Sinek clip, in which he focuses his ‘start with why’ approach on himself.

Video 3 Start with why: answering the question ‘What do you do?’
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Taking into account Simon’s advice, how could you change your answer to that question? Write your new answer in the box below.

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In the language of the marketeers, what you’re doing in this exercise is starting to develop your ‘elevator pitch’, typically two or three short sentences that explain who you are and what you do. As Sinek suggests in the video, if you focus on ‘why’ you do it, you should receive an even more positive response.

Your focus for this activity is on what you do now. As you work through the course, you’ll have the opportunity to evaluate whether what you do now is something you’d like to change in some way – perhaps enhancing your current role with additional responsibilities or taking a completely different direction. In Week 8, once you’ve worked through the course, you’ll revisit the idea of an elevator pitch.

The ‘big idea’ described by the Design Council is closely linked with their other ‘cornerstones’ of values, vision and personality. In the next section, you’ll start to look at those in more detail.


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