This month I had the honour of being invited to an International Women’s Day event at the House of Lords as one of f:Entrepreneur #ialso Top 100: one hundred “multi-achieving” female entrepreneurs in the UK known for doing more than one thing. In my case, it was my private practice as a clinical psychologist and my work here as a personal brand consultant that got me on the list. The premise of #ialso is that as modern women we are often juggling more than one thing, and founder of f:Entrepreneur, Michelle Ovens, wanted to create a campaign that recognised just that.
Being in the room with so many women who had more than one facet to their brand inspired me to address that very modern conundrum of being known for doing more than one thing. It’s a branding question that I often get asked about in work situations with those multi-achieving professionals, artists and entrepreneurs. With the growth in portfolio careers, integrating different sides of our personal brand is potentially a critical aspect of ensuring these sometimes disparate strands are stitched together.
We often talk about consistency in personal branding. You create a personal brand by consistently showing the same skills, strengths, attributes and even personal style so that people come to associate you with them, and them with you. However, what do we do when we have parts of our brand that are quite different? While we may wear a few different hats, it’s quite possible and, frankly, quite likely that there are a number of commonalities that run throughout (particularly as your core values are unlikely to change, regardless of what you’re doing). As a result, identifying a string of qualities that thread together the strands of your life can weave a a pretty interesting tapestry. What are the commonalities between your various endeavours, roles and side projects? What attributes of you shine through, and how can you showcase them? These are the qualities that make your brand interesting and unique, verses a brand constrained by predictability.
I wear two distinct hats with my own private practice and Golden Notebook, my personal branding agency. While on the surface my two businesses might seem quite different, they are essentially about helping people achieve their fullest potential using my professional training and experience. My story ties them together in a way that reflects my personal brand. Many of my friends and clients will know that in addition to my training and experience as a psychologist, I also have a branding background…and I’ve always found the intersection of psychology and branding absolutely fascinating (hence the birth of Golden Notebook!). You can always read more about my brand story here!
Such brand stories can solidify our personal brand even when juggling different roles. Sometimes, however, you can have a bit of fun with the two very different sides of your brand, adding a bit of leather to lace. To bring in another personal example, an important part of my personal brand is fitness, and in particular martial arts. I’ve been training in Taekwondo now for over 6 years, and while it feels like second nature to wear my Dobok in my academy, I also love swapping that black belt for that little black dress and some killer heels. As a result, my brand seems equally at home in a sweaty gym as it does a glitzy charity event, which I find quite fun! The thing that brings together these two sides of me is just that, me. Some people from my different worlds – my professional world, my social world, my fitness world – might be surprised when
they hear about the contrasting side to my brand. But what I’ve found is that this duality adds an element of interest and a hint of edginess to my brand, which I feel truly reflects who I am. And that’s something I’ve learned to not only reconcile but to embrace and celebrate!
Let’s look to one of the most famous personal brands in the world, The Queen, for another example. The formality of her personal brand is of course most obvious, complete with “the look”; the suits, the coats and the jackets with matching hats, little bags and gloves. However, she also has her equally recognisable “off duty” look of country tweed coats and wellies, more often than not with one of her beloved Corgis by her side. She swaps the structured hat for a knotted scarf and we get a different, but equally authentic, Queen. And let’s not forget the real contrast to her brand: Her Royal Highness was a Land Rover mechanic and military truck mechanic in the Second World War. How’s that for a touch of edginess?
We all have varied sides to ourselves, and such contrasts can even show up in lifestyle choices. I have my London “city gal” side and I also have a “seaside persona” of sorts, a more relaxed variation of me. Perhaps you might have your relaxed, collaborate side in the office and yet be ultra-competitive on the netball court with your team. Or you may work in a “dog-eat-dog” type of environment but spend a lot of your free time volunteering with young people who need a little extra help. These are all valid parts of you, parts that can make you all the more interesting and multi-faceted.
Sometimes these elements can surprise, delight and even stir things up a bit. The trick to building a truly authentic brand is not to hide these contrasts but embrace and share them with the world.