You will be known for something. Your brand is what people think of you. You have a personal brand that is shaped by what you do and say, how you look, and what you post on social media. Will you determine your brand or let others determine what you are known for?

IMG_4043This topic is one of the top ten learnings for leaders that I shared with ten young millenials attending a worship internship this summer at our church. I was impressed by your responses to those top ten and the number of requests for me to elaborate on each of them. So, here’s number three.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of hearing Larry Linne speak at a large community-wide National Day of Prayer event. Afterward, I bought his book, BRAND AID: Taking Control of Your Reputation—Before Everyone Else Does.” It’s the best resource I know on this topic. It’s superb!

Here are a few things I remember when I heard Larry speak and underlined when I read his book. They’ve become a conscious part of my day-to-day practice. Hopefully, you will be as inspired as I’ve been, and be intentional about this part of your life.

Brand Creation in Thirty Seconds – Larry tells of his high school philosophy teacher who said, “People will spend the first thirty seconds when they meet you forming an opinion about you. Then they will spend the future of their relationship with you trying to find evidence to support their initial opinions.” Managing the first thirty seconds of a relationship is one of the most powerful brand management strategies in existence. Co-author Patrick Sitkins is a research expert in branding and digital marketing. His research shows people typically develop first impressions based on dress, posture, fitness level and modern (not too modern) styles. Very interesting to ponder.

Brand Creation in Four Minutes – People will spend around four minutes learning about you via your Internet footprint, prior to meeting you. 78% of decision-makers look up salespeople before meeting with them. The Internet amplifies what we say and do, many times before people meet us in person. I love this line from the book, “As in an echo chamber, what you say there doesn’t stop when you close your mouth. It reverberates and has a life of its own, for better or worse” (p. 60-61). Ask yourself before posting on social media, “How will this impact my brand?” Social media is the word of mouth of today. Try typing your name into your search engine of choice and you will know your personal brand that others see.

Brand Creation in Two Years – Your online presence (or lack of it) will help you or hurt you. Depending what kind of work you are in or what your long term goals are, it’s very important to be strategic in building your brand. I’ve experienced first-hand success as I’ve turned my hobby of photography into a self-supporting part-time business that has developed it’s own following. It takes time and consistency to become trusted and credible. Linne writes that it’s often at least a two-year process. As a pastor in the same community for thirty years, I can tell that it does take years of consistency and visibility to build high levels of trust with people outside the core of your church.

Linne’s book is chock full of specific steps and practical principles that will help you be strategic in building your brand. There’s even a section on repairing brand damage. A few weeks back, I left those young millennial interns with Linne’s sobering reminder: “Your personal brand is only as strong as your behavior, and every moment counts.” We are watching that truth unfold every single day with a certain Olympic swimmer on the 2016 USA Team in Rio, Brazil. It can take years to grow the reputation of a champion, but it only takes minutes to become a chump. Your actions and attitudes today will determine your brand tomorrow. Have a great day!


QUESTION: What would you add that I might have missed? Love to hear it below!



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