Protect your personal brand – say NO
Your personal brand is affected by everything, from what you wear to how you communicate in the workplace to the activities you choose to pursue.
When you become strategic in your personal branding, it’s important to start identifying which activities are going to help you take your brand to the next level, and learning to say ‘no’ to those that won’t.
When I interviewed independent producer and entrepreneur Tumi Makgabo for my book, Branding & Marketing YOU, I was impressed by how focused her personal brand is.
Tumi told me that it’s important to understand that you can’t be everything to everyone. In her case, she knows that her personal brand has been built working in a news environment, specifically producing documentary content that focuses on development issues. She explains that she has learnt to turn down opportunities outside of her niche.
“When people say that they have this great entertainment thing they’d like me to be involved with, I say no, not because I don’t think it’s a great idea, but because I don’t think I can add value to their product,” she says. “I make decisions like that all the time. There are many people who are a little bit upset with me because I say no. But it’s because at the end of the day, what do I have? I have my credibility and I have my track record. That’s what I have and that’s what allows me to continue doing what I am doing.”
Tumi is very good at choosing to associate only with programmes, events and products that support her personal brand. She is very deliberate about this.
“I think often times we make decisions because it’s financially a good thing, but being financially attractive doesn’t necessarily translate into being good for your brand,” she says. “You end up running the risk of diluting the brand that you created in the long term.”
It’s often easier to choose what to do than to say ‘no’ to things. But Tumi has some great advice: “If we can’t come up with a good enough reason for doing it, then there isn’t a good enough reason to be doing it.”
Decide today to re-evaluate your activities and involvements and to start thinking about how they affect your personal brand. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you say ‘no’:
- Is this activity helping me to reach my target market?
- Will this project reflect well on my personal brand?
- Will doing this mean compromising on my personal brand values?
- What are my reasons for wanting to do this project and are these good enough reasons to say ‘yes’?