The Brand You

Written by: Stephanie Newton of Synergy Health

A recap of Feb. 19th’s Branding Yourself Event

On Feb. 19th, Emerge Tampa Bay presented Branding Yourself 101 at Pepin Distributing. The sold out event featured keynote speaker Bruce Faulman, with interactive breakout sessions by Bemetra Simmons, David Capece and Mike Griffin.

Everything Has a Brand

Everything (absolutely everything) has a brand, and for one very specific reason: a brand is a feeling.

Bruce Faulmann, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Tampa Bay Times, engaged the crowd quickly Wednesday night by throwing out a number of local figures – with the goal of generating the key buzzwords that accurately describe the feelings they generate in the local public. Bob Buckhorn, Judy Genshaft, Joe Maddon, Joe Redner, Rhea Law. The conversation quickly turned even closer to home – what feelings do you associate with… Ashley Ehrman? Brian Seel?

Right or wrong – we are always being judged, Faulmann says. Whether by our height, our accent, the color of our hair, our core values or our “props” (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.), but it’s our decisions that will really hold us back or move us forward in our careers. Every decision we make is our brand: the decision has to be real, authentically genuine, memorable, and honed in to the right target audience. Decisions that try to be all things to all people no longer lead professionals to that next opportunity. Employers are constantly looking for individuals who are a “good bet” – those who make decisions that lead to predictable outcomes.

Take a look at the following real decisions that were made my prominent professionals with Florida ties. Rewarding bet or risky bet?

Micky Arison, Carnival Crusie CEO

Johnny Morris, Founder of Bass Pro

The Brand Plan

In a workshop held later in the evening by David Capece, CEO of Sparxoo (an integrated digital marketing and branding agency based in Tampa) and ESPN office legend, Emerge members were pushed beyond their comfort zones to face critical career questions:

  • What are your top-three goals in the near-term? The long-term?
  • What skills do you have and what skills do you need?
  • What are your past achievements and future opportunities?
  • What industries/companies do you have experience with, and which are you targeting?
  • What endorsers do you know? Who are the connectors who can get you to your next position?
  • What easy career development actions can you take now, and which will be more time-consuming?

Grading ourselves on these areas was certainly scary, but worth the introspective assessment. Everyone in the room had supportive feedback and encouraging attitudes as the conversation ensued.

Your Brand’s Authenticity

The breakout session led by Bemetra Simmons, Hillsborough County Market President at BB&T (and self-proclaimed “broach lady”), was really driven by the importance of first impressions. These interactions are wrapped up in the devilish details (hair, chipped nails, definition of professional dress, etc.) that end up making lasting attitudes. Being known as someone who pays attention to the small stuff, and who stands out by “keeping it old school” when the timing is right (perhaps by sending a bottle of wine to a table where seated is your top client), is someone who has a reliable personal brand. Sincere handwritten notes on unique stationary or having a unique trait about you that creates a direct association keeps your brand in focus. Everything you participate in is an extension of your personal brand – from boards to networking associations.

But above all, Bemetra says there are a few basics to always remember:

  1. Don’t confuse popularity with leadership.
  2. It’s refreshing to call people back, and actually do what you say you are going to do.
  3. Know the basics about your industry! If you are at a networking event, and you are in healthcare, you should probably have an up-to-date understanding of the Affordable Care Act and how it will impact your business. If you are in finance and are asked how you think the market is preforming, you should probably have an informed response.

Breaking the Mold

Finally, Mike Griffin – charter member of Vertical Integration in Tampa (“not your typical real estate advisory services” group), encouraged our members to champion a personal brand that exudes positivity. “Just because you are under 35 doesn’t mean you can’t push and find other ways to break beyond the young professional mold,” he said. Our brands do not necessarily have to exclude the activities we find most fun. For example, if you are a sports fan at heart, try getting involved with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. There are endless avenues and opportunities in this market to find outlets that ignite our passions and our brands.

It’s not a logo, it’s not a slogan – our personal brand is a feeling those around us experience, and it’s one that we are responsible for continually grooming and maintaining.

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