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A grateful thanksgiving blog. What is your personal brand?

“The role color choice can play in brand identity is not to be underestimated”

— Gobe, Emotional Branding

Your personal brand may, in part, be appearance. It may be your sense of fashion or personal color pallete (as Leigh-Ann so ably masters). It may be your hair (or in my case — a beard). Or you may have your thumb nails professionally painted with a different theme monthly (as Jim rocks).

These external elements of a brand can be potent. As can a well-designed logo, color pallete, typography and style guide. Yet a personal brand, just like any brand, goes much deeper than color selection or style. For a brand is, at its core, that for which you stand.

What do you stand for? What is your personal brand essence? What are your brand values? How do you want to be seen through the eyes’ of others?  How will you break through? How will you be remembered?

This may be something you’ve considered intentionally. Most likely, your personal brand has simply evolved as an extension of your personality, values, character and environment.

Larger than life characters have personal brands and brand values which are easily identified. WWE has its clearly defined heroes and anti-heroes. Actors channel the personal brand of the characters they play to make the role convincing, consistent and complete.

What is your authentic role? What would an actor seek to channel to play your part?

Phillip Ward Burton was a lanky, old cuss. And my long-time professor and mentor at Indiana University. His fashion sense combined checked shirts, plaid pants, paisley ties and tweed jackets.  All at once.

His tone and manner was not AP Style. Conventions were for the conventional. In his world, sentences did not require both a noun and a verb. One word sentences, his favorite spice. Punctuation? Pervasive! His trademark – a double dash.

Phil was a character. His brand style was quirky, irreverent and creative. His tone and manner – distinctive.

Yet it was that for which he stood that truly made his brand strong. Phil stood for excellence, results and hope.

This was captured in his first note to me, which was written across the top of the page of my first advertising assignment he graded, “D+ Don’t reach for the cyanide—yet. There is still hope.”

For his wise council and mentorship I am eternally grateful. Gratitude has been a theme throughout my life. Such is my good fortune.

In gratitude I began closing every email “Thanks, Tom.” At first it was not intentional. Yet it became a habit. Now thousands of emails have concluded in this manner. In some emails it made more sense than others. In some emails, I consciously left it off.  It has, in part, become a part of my brand. A reminder to myself, more than others, to be thankful.

Phil did not employ a closing on his hand-typed memos. Most of his writing came before email. Yet he ended every phone call by saying “So long.” It stuck with me. Clearly, pointedly, he was not saying good-bye.   There was still hope.

Thanks and so long Phil.


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