David Anthony Childs

Columnist

It's all been done before – or has it?

I have never been a fan of that statement because it implies that we're doomed to a lifetime of repetition. I see the world offering ...

I have never been a fan of that statement because it implies that we're doomed to a lifetime of repetition. I see the world offering an endless, ever-changing array of opportunities. A complementary statement is that each of us has more potential than we may think; and the possibilities evolve along with our life experiences.

Most of my life has been spent trying to understand my medium for self-expression. This quest left me feeling that my personal brand was inconsistent – even schizophrenic – until I recognized a pattern. I have always been searching out creative projects that involved enjoying the company and talents of other people. This has led to experiences in the music industry, film and television, construction, advertising, branding and now public speaking and writing.

Do you have a personal brand? Of course you do. This does not mean a logo and website. It means that you affect people and situations on an emotional level with every interaction. In fact, you probably even influence them when you aren't present. That is branding.

Earlier in life you had no choice but to play along and see what happened. But with experience you learned to take an active role in your interactions – choosing what to wear, where to go and who to associate with. This is personal brand management and marketing.

In a speaking engagement a few weeks ago I discussed this concept and during question period a woman asked me if her company name was her brand. The answer is no. The name represents the brand but it takes time for its true meaning to develop and for people to associate the name with that meaning. Think of the name of a close friend – instantly your brain paints a picture of them and you begin to feel an emotional response. Now think of the name of someone just met – the response is likely more of a shallow impression.

Think of what it takes to understand a close friend – the time investment, energy spent nurturing the relationship, and dedication to personal growth. This is how you need to think about your company and the people associated with it: employees, stakeholders, clients and, of course, yourself. You must also understand the company itself. Maybe you already do, but consider the possibility that there are things you have overlooked. Remember that you are only one side of the equation.

I'm offering no "five ways to…" bullet-pointed task list this month – just a single concept. Think of ways to personify your company, keeping in mind that "it hasn't all been done." Sure, you and I may both sell cups, but we're also both unique. So dig a little deeper – why do you sell cups? Who are your influences? Why do you choose particular brands, or create what you create, or think the way you do? This is what makes your company unique and is the root of your true value.

Trendsetters unite! Help me show the "it's all been done before" crowd that they're wrong.

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