What’s in an Identity?

How often do you change your name? If you are like some of us, probably never. The name you were given at birth, is the name you have maintained and come to identify with. This however was not the case for this one lady in my hometown. Believe it or not, her name was as a dynamic see-saw changing every 3-5 years. Why? Because every time she met someone new, she would insist on changing it to reflect the new man in town. Many are the times when confusion would reign in the town because a name that was no longer in use had erroneously been mentioned.

Over time, and to avoid this mix-up, some of townsmen came together and gave her a name they thought was befitting ‘Wambui Mucore’, meaning Zebra. Because just like the Zebra, the townsmen had established that there was always going to be one more strip that would be added in her life.

What really is in a name?

A name is part of your identity. A name defines who you are. A name gives a sense of which part of the world you come from. For example, in Kenya, we are in the electioneering period and your name can easily be stereotyped to align with specific candidate.

When I ask the question, do you have a Personal Brand, often I am told NO because there is a general assumption that Personal Branding is only concerned with the digital footprint one is leaving behind. This however is not necessarily the case. Your personal brand starts from the very basic point of your name.

Whether we know it or not, when our name is mentioned in whichever setting, people will form certain images about you. This is the perception that is created because of your everyday actions. Infact, one of the best ways of establishing what sort of personal brand you have, is by asking those around you to describe you using 3 adjectives. This is a simple yet impactful exercise that will give you a good understanding of what they think about you.

Further, you need to be in control of your brand. Unlike this lady who was always re-establishing herself with every new catch, those around her were not ready to keep up with this inconsistency and eventually, they gave her a name that has stuck with her to this day. To own who you are, you must be in control of what is said about you. To be in control, you must be consistent, otherwise your audience will redefine you based on what they see.

Effective Personal Branding is about being in control. The experiences you share with those around you will make or break your Personal Brand whether it is activated digitally or not.

Personal Branding is not a new concept. The only difference is that then, Before Social Media, Personal Branding was more personal, more about relationship building than it was about branding. While today, After Social Media, Personal Branding is more of a Branding exercise that elevates the individual with the loudest volume than it is about being Personal. But to build an effective Personal Brand, you need to have a delicate dance between the Personal (Relationship Building) and the Branding (Communication) to bring out the credibility in you.

Are you an effective Personal Brand? A good balance between what you do to manage your relationships and how you communicate your value will help you #Standout4Growth.

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