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Multinational corporations spend a staggering amount of money each year attempting to brand their products effectively. Sometimes, these efforts go extremely well—for example, Coca-Cola has experienced recurring success with its branding campaigns. Occasionally, they don't go so well ("New Coke" is one such instance). But it is important to keep in mind that branding isn't just for gigantic corporations. Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly making decisions about the most important brand in your life—you!
Your brand, or image, is how other people perceive and think about you. This can be extraordinarily important in a variety of ways—after all, perception is usually what counts in business. Making a great impression quite often means the difference between landing a new contract or job and being passed overand making that impression usually comes down to proper branding. If you don't take steps to brand yourself and your image, you are making the decision to leave your career to chance.
So where do you begin? First, it is critical to understand that you have a great deal of control over how others ultimately perceive you. How you present or "brand" yourself largely rests at your discretion. You may not be able to control every aspect of every person's perception of you, but you can do a lot to cultivate your image, just as Coca-Cola and other companies cultivate theirs. Consider how you wish to be perceived against what might be the right branding for your given career path and environment—clearly, someone looking to become the lead singer of a band will approach branding a little differently than someone looking to become an investment banker!
Your brand isn't a badge that you wear around to help people identify you—that would be a costume! Instead, a brand should capitalize on what makes you a unique and desirable commodity. Brand yourself to perfection, and the brand that you create will be a customized image that is right for you and no one else. This, in turn, will become a powerful tool for promoting yourself and your skills in the business world and beyond.
—Madeline Lewis, Career Coach