If our personal brand is largely what others say about us when we’re not in the room, then how easy is it to change it and get them to say something different? As a personal brander, it’s a question that has intrigued me for some time. So we decided to launch a Brand Transformation Campaign and interviewed a collection of 15 diverse women to find out exactly that. Here’s what we discovered.
Each of our interviewees has transformed her personal brand in the last few years. Some of the women we interviewed decided to actively steer their personal brand in a completely different direction, such as Sarah Haran, who gave up a career in IT to launch her own handbag range and was recently cited as one of 100 women to watch in Cranfield University’s FTSE 2018 board report. A handful of others added a transformative dimension to their existing brand, such as interior designer Dee Gibson, who decided to renovate a luxury villa in Sri Lanka to enhance and add to her personal brand as a stylist. Or Paula Gardner, who went back to University to study for a Masters in Business Psychology and move from PR to business consulting.
However, there were those who had brand transformation thrust upon them, like vocal coach Angela Durrant who had to step up to become the main breadwinner when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Likewise, Dawn Yvette still struggles with chronic fatigue that has forced her to revaluate every part of her life, and former wealth coach Nicola Cairncross who reinvented herself as an online trainer after the double blows of the recession and a bereavement.
The stories of these women are quite diverse, but many are connected by a common thread; most took steps to transform their brand after some trigger or life event served as a catalyst. These women chose to take control of their circumstances by transforming their personal brand.
In the case of director of a printing company, Vicki Beauman, it was being involved in an accident and being told she would never walk again that prompted her use of yoga as a rehabilitation tool, leading her to train as a yoga teacher. In the case of coach Caroline Pankhurst, it was a feminist play that opened the doors and led to her to a journey that has involved her adopting the surname of her heroine; a literal change in personal brand if ever there was one!
So, how do we make that transformation possible?
Our interviewees also shared suggestions for brand transformation. Sarah Haran recommends that you “just take the leap,” whilst Nicola Cairncross advocates the use of journaling and meditation. Wendy Kendall, a psychologist who had to extricate herself from a working partnership that threatened to swallow up her personal brand, cautions “nurture the people who say you can do this and drop the others.” Caroline Pankhurst suggests investing in a coach to help you along the journey. Some of the interviewees talked about the short-term sacrifice involved, especially those whose transformation involved studying, but they all agree it was worth it in the end.
Here’s a summary of what we’ve learned from our inspiring women who went through this transformational journey:
* It’s important to listen to that trigger. As we’ve learned, it could be internal or external. What is it guiding you to do? If the trigger is a life event, what can you do to reclaim the reigns and begin to move things in a direction that feels right? See if you can start to form an initial plan (however loose) from there.
* Don’t buy into that inner critic that says you can’t do it. You can have that thought and still do it anyway. Share your thoughts with supports, even if not fleshed out, to hear opinions and ideas from those you trust outside of your own head.
* Initial sacrifices can pay off. Remember that short term pain may very well lead to long term gain!
* Keep reminding yourself that very little changes inside your comfort zones…outside of it is where the magic happens!
* Recruit support from others and surround yourself with the people who believe in you and can rally you on. Almost everyone interviewed had support from their family and friends, which just goes to remind us not to let the fear of what others think stop us.
At the end of the day, it’s quite simple: it’s usually us standing in our own way!