Branding 101: Do you have power?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken time to detail what I consider to be the fundamental components of personal branding. I’ll wrap the series up this week by discussing power and influence.

As I stated in my original article, we all have personal brands – attributes, skills, talents, etc. that cause others to form opinions about us. Arguably, our brands give us power. I’m sure your perceptions of power – good or bad – caused you to form a mental picture immediately after reading the word “power”, but I assure you that power is not a bad word…or a bad thing.

When used as a noun, one of the definitions of “power” is “great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force.” In this regard, one could surmise that power and influence are heredity descendants of an effective personal brand – particularly since one’s brand is the sum of one’s talents, skills, ability, and influence.

As consumers, we are all drawn to specific products and services because of the power they project (aided by savvy marketing minds, no doubt). This particular toothpaste guarantees to “brighten your smile.”  That particular tax preparation service guarantees to get you the biggest refund legally possible. Those particular running shoes promise to increase your cardiovascular health (while simultaneously shaping your derriere).

Likewise, if you hope to successfully market and employ your brand in leadership – and frankly, in life – you must cultivate your brand in a way that enhances both your reputational power AND the people you lead. For example, if you’re a dynamic project manager whose projects are completed on time and under budget, your reputational power is clearly evident. Are you, however, using your power for “good” (e.g. leading through collaboration, inspiring and empowering others) or for “evil” (e.g. ruling with an iron fist, stifling creativity and participation)?

In his seminal article “The Brand Called You”, Tom Peters noted:

Getting and using power — intelligently, responsibly, and yes, powerfully — are essential skills for growing your brand…remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader.

Recognize that you have power – and that power is not a bad thing. It’s useless to embark on building your personal brand (through formal and informal skill development, training, practical experiences, and more) and not enjoy the benefits of power and influence that result from such endeavors. Remember, however, that as an effective leader you have a responsibility to use your power to inspire and enhance the lives and experiences of those around you.


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