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Make your Mark

By William Arruda
Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Whether you are an executive, entrepreneur or professional working inside an organization, it is critical to build your brand so that you can stand out and ensure career success. And since branding is not a one-time event, you need to take every opportunity to make your mark - enabling you to benefit from the brand equity that builds over time. You do this by consistently expressing your brand - even through the most routine and banal daily activities. Here are just a few ideas of how you can turn the mundane into an opportunity to make your mark.

Your Voice-Mail or Answering Machine Message
How many voice-mails do you get each day? Your outgoing greeting is an opportunity for you to express your brand. Does yours sound like this ' Hi, I am either away from my desk or on the other line - please leave a message…..?'

Last week, I was speaking with a professional trainer and self proclaimed 'fitness freak' who told me that her voice-mail greeting includes a different health tip every day. This reinforces her message of health and fitness. She said that she often receives calls where the person on the other end of the line says 'Oh…I was hoping to get your voice-mail.'

Your e-mail Template
You probably send or respond to hundreds or even thousands of e-mails every month. Each one is an opportunity for you to communicate your brand. Your mail template design, along with the information you include at the bottom of your mails - your signature and contact information, says a lot about you.

Jeff, a marketing manager whose brand is all about being witty and fun, adds a dose of humor to the bottom of his e-mails. Along with his contact information, he includes a randomly generated joke and links to his favorite humorous web sites.

Your Written Correspondence
Your stationery system, business cards and even thank you notes are great opportunities to express who you are. Ensure that you choose materials and formats that are expressing your brand attributes. For example, the way you express thanks says a lot about your brand. Do you send e-cards, written thank you notes or do you call people to thank them?

Brian, a communications executive in the IT industry sends thank you notes to members of his team every time they have achieved a major milestone. He hand types them with an old typewriter to express the importance he places on the written word. By doing so, he makes an indelible mark on the recipients.

Your Office Environment
Your workspace reveals a lot about you. What does yours say? Do you have a messy desk, original artwork on the walls, items that express your brand, etc? Or does your office look just like all the others on your floor? What would make your office environment speak in your unique voice? When you make your workspace congruent with your interests, passions, talents, and values, you will reinforce your brand message.

A San Francisco-based client of mine who includes 'international' among her brand attributes, says that her office screams global. She has a copy of the International Herald Tribune delivered everyday, she adorns her walls with copies of the company's advertising from various countries in South America, Europe and Asia and she always has Latin music emanating from her office. It's no surprise that her manager just asked her to head up a project involving coordination with the company's European and Asian headquarters.

Your Clothes or Personal Trademarks.
What you wear can help you make your mark. Make sure your wardrobe both reflects your brand and is appropriate for your target audience. You may even want to develop a trademark if it feels right for you.

A good friend and former colleague who consults with design departments at ad agencies is an expert in color. People hire her because of her keen eye for choosing and combining colors. Her daily attire always includes complementary colors. And not just complementary colors - the perfect hues and shades. If she has on a blue suit, she will wear the perfect shade of orange scarf; or if she is wearing a red dress, she will wear just the right color green belt. For most of us, this complementary combination goes unnoticed; but members of her target audience always receive the message.

Your Resume/CV/proposal
With so many people competing for the same jobs or for the same piece of business, you need to make your resume or proposal stand out - and you must do so in a way that reflects your brand. Do you have a written resume or is it on CD? If you are a consultant, do you ensure that your proposals reflect your brand? The fonts, colors, format and images you use all provide opportunities for you to differentiate yourself from your peers. Make your mark with your resume or proposal and you will stand shoulders above the competition.

Benjamin, a marketing manager based in Europe has built a web site to replace his resume. When applying for a job, he sends a piece of high quality paper with a web address on it. He says that his web site provides a complete multi-media experience for his prospective employers and allows them to click on the links that are most important to them, thereby providing a customized experience for each visitor. Since he is a media guru, this resume vehicle reinforces his brand and truly separates him from others with similar skills and career goals.

You can see that you don't need to buy a billboard or run a series of ads to build your brand, you can use those routine opportunities that arise every day to make your mark, and over time, you will make a major impression.

About the Author
William Arruda
Dubbed the 'Personal Branding Guru' by the media and clients alike, William Arruda works with individuals and organizations to build strong, memorable brands. Combining his 20 years of international branding expertise with his passion for people, he founded Reach (, the world's first branding consultancy focused on the human side of branding. William has appeared on BBC TV, the Discovery Channel and Radio America. He has published numerous articles in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the and he has written for the American Marketing Association, the Chartered Institute of Marketing and PR News. William is also author of the upcoming personal branding book, Bullet-Proof Your Career. He is a member of the International Coach Federation, holds a Master's Degree in Education and speaks regularly to audiences around the world.


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