How do you create a personal brand that stands out? Let me start by taking you back to 1996 when a band named "Nalu Love Dragons" lit up the Richmond, VA college party scene with a sound no one had ever heard before. (Mostly because we never practiced and made up our songs on the fly.)
I was the lead singer. On lead guitar was Rick, who shredded his twelve string with a flaming pick and slayed the audience with his wicked smile. He had a Slash-like presence on the stage - guitar hung low, legs wide apart, long hair whipping as he banged his head. He was electric!
Rick and I haven't kept in touch since college, but back then, we were inseparable. I was continually impressed by his fearless sense of his own personal brand. There was one key way he manifested his uniqueness.
Rick wore skirts.
No, he wasn't a cross-dresser. Actually, he was a very macho guy. The skirts he wore were ugly, brown, floor-length, thrift store skirts. He called them his "old lady" kilts. I simply called them "man skirts."
They were the ugliest things I've ever seen. But somehow, on his tall, lanky frame and with his Birkenstocks, tattered t-shirts, and musician attitude, the skirts looked perfectly cool on him. In fact, they ROCKED! They were his signature and no one questioned it (with an exception of the frat boys whose heads exploded when they saw him).
Just like Rick stood out in the college scene, Jeffrey Gitomer stands out in the corporate scene. At his seminars, hundreds of business people mingle - all looking alike in their suits, blouses, and ties. And then there's Jeffrey in his bright red mechanic shirt more appropriate for a garage than a ballroom. If you wore a mechanic shirt to a professional sales event, everyone would think you were in the wrong place. But on Jeffrey, nobody questions it.
How does Jeffrey pull it off? Why does it work?
To develop your standout personal brand, do you need your own edgy look?
Do you need to find your version of man skirt or mechanic shirt? Maybe a yellow rain hat or purple, horn rimmed glasses you always wear?
Jeffrey's mechanic shirt works because it fits with everything else that makes Jeffrey who he is. It works because it's authentic.
If you look around for something to make you more interesting just to draw attention to yourself, chances are it won't feel right to you (or any one else). It will appear contrived and insincere. You're better off wearing the suit.
Then how do you stand out?
ANSWER: To create a personal brand that stands out, your goal can't be simply to be noticed. It must be to help people by fearlessly expressing your own thoughts, beliefs, and skills in your own instinctual style regardless of criticism.
Do this and you'll stand out. Do this and your personal brand will evolve on its own.
You may end up with your own version of a red mechanic shirt. Perhaps it will be purple, horn rimmed glasses. Or, what makes you stand out may be a style of speaking, a recognizable quote, a radical book, or an industry-changing idea.
The point is that the signature elements of your personal brand will be natural, they'll fit you perfectly, and they'll draw the right kind of attention to you - the kind that builds respect, admiration, and a loyal following.
I once asked Rick why he wore the skirts, thinking he was just doing it to be different or rebellious. His answer: "Have you ever tried them? They're insanely comfortable."
Don't miss my free, live webinar this Wednesday on the topic of creating a strong personal brand. Details & Registration