Yesterday, I got to hear a great presentation from an AmeriCorps alum, Dara Goldberg, on personal branding. While “personal branding” is a hot buzzword that a people tend to love or hate, what it really refers to is deliberately designing your reputation. What do you want to be known for? How do you want people to talk about you when you’re out of the room?
To create a strong personal brand, Dara stated that you need to have the 3 Cs: be clear in what your central message is, consistent in repeating that message, and constant in getting it out there for people to hear and remember.
Taking the idea of branding back to it roots as a marketing tool for companies, I started thinking about how I had seen branding taking place at some of Volunteer Maryland’s partner sites. How had I seen Volunteer Maryland Coordinators employ branding strategies? And how could I apply those examples what I was learning? I thought about how Kelly Danz at Habitat for Humanity Choptank has created posters, flyers, pens, and buttons with their name on it to make themselves more visible around the community. Applying this to a more personal level, it’s similar to being sure that you have business cards on you all the time, and are passing them out whenever you meet new people – whether it’s networking, volunteer events, conferences, and anywhere else you interact professionally. Kelly has made sure that people are having constant interactions with HFH Choptank and its brand.
And then I thought about what Crissy van Hooff was doing at GLCCB. She has unified the structure for the numerous programs that take place at the center, allowing for individual missions but a shared structure. She created unified system for oversight relying on constant communication with the group leaders. This created a more tightly knit community of programs that share both strategies, and a mission. Crissy clearly sees the importance of having a consistent message while not losing flexibility. If I wanted a strong personal brand that extended across multiple roles in my life, I don’t want to seem like I am remaking myself for each role, but instead drawing from different aspects of me. I’d want to keep a consistent brand while fitting into each situation.
But what if you are in changing circumstances? How do you handle your brand then? I think that Stephon Hutt at the Center of Help is a great example of keeping a clear, consistent brand. As Stephon has developed a new volunteer program for tutoring students, she has made it clear that this is not a new mission, but is an important part of supporting their original mission. Clarity is crucial to ensure that people know that the mission has not altered and is in fact supported by these changes. Stephon support’s the Center of Help’s brand by being clear about what they are and what they are not.
I am inspired by Dara’s presentation and what it had me see in our Volunteer Maryland Coordinator’s work. A strong brand is important at both the organizational level and the personal level. It is important in showing people what makes you unique – and why you (or your organization) is the best. I am keen on seeing what more I will be learning about branding from the Volunteer Maryland Coordinators!