Your Brand in 2016

Executives would prefer to not changeNew Year’s Resolutions are often times for radical shifts in what we like to think of as our personal brands. Maybe it is a diet. Maybe it is smoking. Maybe it is reading more. Maybe it is watching less television… Whatever the resolution, be aware that it affects your personal brand – both from inside and out.

The Resolution
Not everyone makes a New Year’s resolution – some do it maybe as a joke. The Resolution is a promise made to yourself, the universe, and anyone standing near enough to hear and bored enough to listen, about something you would like to do differently in the year to come.

According to the Statistic Brain, the top ten resolutions are:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family


The Radical Resolution

Many people save the Big Things for Big Occasions, like New Year’s. The Big Things are not cosmetic changes but those that require a great deal of discipline and effort.

Quitting smoking (7) is a perennial favorite. What people neglect often to take into account in making this resolution is that it is not only about the cigarettes. It is about the places you will go, the people with whom you will hang out, the way you work, eat, drink coffee, and occupy your idle moments.

Quitting smoking is actually a paradigm shift for your personal brand.

If you believe that you will do everything exactly as you did as a smoker and change nothing else in your habits, it is more than likely that you are a) deluding yourself or b) not quite ready to change your personal brand in that way.

As one example, let’s look at a Smoker’s Day. In an increasingly non-smoking world, the smoker is quite often obliged to remove himself from it to indulge (in my case, up to 40 times a day). If each smoke lasts approximately 6 minutes, this accounts for four hours a day – not including travel time to and from a smokable spot – in which we will no longer have an assigned activity. If we assume that we are more or less awake for 16 hours a day, this means that we spend 38% of our conscious hours away from the rest of the world.

Moreover, those 6-minute breaks (albeit forcibly applied) are in fact micro-oases for the smoker. They are moments when they step away from whatever they are doing and relax (even if they are “relaxing” outside in icy weather). How does a smoker replace them or do without them? It calls for something new to be introduced to the brand.

As you may have surmised, I have made such a resolution – although it does not kick in until January 11th. And the brutal truth is that I am not sure how I will get by without being able to absent myself from the world four hours a day. Hopefully I will not spend that time with my head in the fridge…


All Change

What is interesting about this and almost any other resolution is that you are requiring yourselves to change something that has been a habit – not reading enough, not caring about fitness, not writing letters home often enough.

The change that I will introduce into my personal brand, therefore, could actually drag a lot of other changes with it. This will inevitably affect my brand. One could even, by starting with number 7, lasso the remaining nine top resolutions into your corral. Whether or not I stick with it, then, becomes a matter of how much I like the new brand I have become.

The personal brand is as much about how we perceive ourselves as how others perceive us. As in any re-branding project, the bigger the change, the more you will have to work to ensure continued recognition. Compare the resolution to quit smoking to changing your hairstyle (a moot point for me, but whatever…). The new “packaging” might seem a bigger change to the outside world, but it would probably have no effect on other parts of your brand. Quitting smoking, on the other hand, is barely visible but many other brand assets might be affected as well…

The only thing I know for sure is that I will not be good company for most of January!

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