Perception is Reality

Having a strong brand can increase sales and actually reduce advertising outlay.

Consider, for example, Mercedes and Rolex - premium brands that charge premium prices and do not have to resort to television advertising to raise awareness of their product. In effect, through the strength of the branding, the product sells itself. Of course, if the product itself wasn't of a high quality, everything would fall apart (perhaps literally) but high standards play a key part in such premium brandings.

On the other side of the coin, those companies whose brand has come to be viewed negatively often find that such a stigma is incredibly hard to remove. That said, it is not impossible to do so - as the efforts of both Skoda and Lidl have proved. Due to the fact that large commercial brands are very much in the public eye, it is incredibly difficult to change the general perception of your brand. However, it is much easier to do so when it comes to your own personal brand.

The importance of creating a strong personal brand for yourself cannot be overstated, especially when so much information is now just a few clicks away. For all of the positives that can come from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, they present just as many opportunities to get it wrong. A single poorly thought out comment or picture can be the difference between being deemed suitable for promotion or unready for responsibility. However, providing an individual is careful to separate the personal from the professional across social media, there is no reason why a person should not be able to quickly and successfully rebrand themselves, especially when it comes to the process of switching jobs.

Jobseeking allows us to reflect on who we are, consider who we want to be, and offers us the chance to become the best possible version of ourselves. A shy person can recreate himself in a new workplace as a confident contributor and a troublemaker can become a team player. It's just like start starting a new school - nobody knows any better so you have the opportunity to start fresh. The only way anybody will associate "new you" with "old you" is if you let them.

The key to rebranding yourself is to decide in advance how you want to be perceived - and then commit to doing everything possible to encouraging that perception. Whilst a lack of effort or talent will, in time, alter general perception, it's a lot easier to look for the substance behind something when you appreciate the style of its presentation.

People generally consider that swans are graceful, serene creatures, gliding effortlessly across the water, never seeing the struggle beneath the surface as the swan paddles frantically to stay afloat. People have neither the time nor the inclination to look that closely and so let what they see become their perception - if enough people see the same thing, it becomes reality. However, a personal rebrand is not just something to be done when switching jobs. It is certainly trickier to change perception in a place where a person is known to be a certain way but it is by no means impossible.

The key is planning and consistency. A day or two of wearing a smart suit may catch the attention of people who are unaccustomed to this behaviour - but a month or two of doing this consistently will help those same people see that this is the way things are now. Everything starts with knowing how you want to be seen. A confused game plan will lead to confused results, whereas a clear goal offers something to work towards. Take the time to decide how you want to be seen within the business world and then work diligently at the time-consuming task of presenting that better version of you.

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