The following is the ninth in the series "Personal Branding For A Better Life," in which marketing expert Jim Joseph applies big brand marketing lessons to help you build a successful personal brand.
If there’s one thing that marketers could be accused of, it’s too much planning. I know that sounds counter culture, but it’s true. If we are not careful, we could spend our mornings planning our afternoons and our afternoons planning our next mornings. We won’t get anything done as a result.
From a personal perspective, we can’t spend our entire life planning for the future, or we’ll never have enough time to enjoy what’s in front of us. We have to live in the moment and consider what’s happening around us in real-time.
Life isn’t just about planning, so I don’t want you to get the wrong idea from this series of posts: personal branding isn’t all about planning either; it’s about living.
We need to have the ability to react to what’s around us and be willing to change our minds. We have to be able to change our course, even at a moment’s notice.
The big brands do this all the time. When a new competitor enters the market, it may force a new strategy and approach to combat it. When forces in the economy affect demand, it may require a new product formulation or pricing scenario. When consumer sentiment takes a pop culture turn, it may require a new messaging dimension.
Every good marketer knows that a big part of branding is being flexible and responding to what’s happening in the marketplace. The same is true of your personal brand.
First of all, you could merely change your mind and not really like the direction your personal brand is taking. Life may not be turning out the way you expected and that’s OK. Embrace it, be flexible, and change your path.
You’re a brand, as we’ve been saying, so you are allowed to evolve. Just look at how brands like Banana Republic, Ford, and AT&T have evolved through the years! At many times during their brand life cycles, they hit a fork in the road and had to evolve to continue their success. You should do the same.
Every milestone event, like a divorce or career change, is a chance to repurpose your personal brand and update its course. Perhaps an opportunity comes along that you were not expecting, like a new job or potential partner. Be flexible with your personal plan to accept the challenge and recreate your brand.
The point here is to remain open, flexible and adaptive throughout the entire process. Having a plan in place doesn’t mean you simply put your head down and plow ahead regardless of what happens. You may need to make a change.
Grow your brand at the same time as you grow as an individual. Change with the times and adapt as our culture evolves. Enhance your brand with opportunities that come your way and seize the chance to move in multiple directions.
There is one big piece of advice, however, that you need to keep in mind along the way: hang on to the relationships you have developed at each crossroad. The people you meet not only make up your brand, they also carry you from milestone to milestone. I’m still connected with colleagues and friends from my very first job to my last one. These are the people who have made me the brand I am today.
Social media makes it so much easier to stay connected and share what’s going on with your brand. Keep these people in your life as you bring others in. The unique mix of relationships will propel you to the next milestone in your journey.
The folks you have known for years will give you the comfort and stability you need to keep progressing forward and the new people you meet along the way will force you to be flexible and change as required to accomplish your evolving goals.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Jim Joseph is the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. He is the author of three books, including the latest, The Personal Experience Effect (Happy About 2013). Joseph also teaches marketing at New York University and blogs at JimJosephExp.com.