Adobe & Careers

What’s your personal brand?

June 8, 2011

Every one of us personifies a brand i.e. the values and perceptions associated with us as individuals. Just like how we automatically think of safety and Volvo; the perfect cup of coffee anywhere in the world and Starbucks; or sportsmanship with Nike, we carry our personal brands on our shoulders. It’s our reputation. It’s what we are known for.

Last week, we spent some time discussing the importance of creating a personal brand with John Travis, VP of Brand Marketing, who lives and breathes brand on a daily basis, and Jeff Vijungco, VP of Talent Acquisition, who is—for the most part—on the receiving end of experiencing personal brands from candidates who interview with Adobe.

Here’s a recap of the session:
Question: How do you define a brand?
Answer: A brand is not a logo. At the most basic level, a brand is a set of perceptions, thoughts, feelings, images tied to a product or service. It is what people say or think of when you’re in the room and when you’re not. At the very core, there are five dimensions that make up a brand and these dimensions can be applied to your career:
1. Authenticity – Be true to yourself. Know your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
2. Understanding – Realize how people perceive you and your skillsets.
3. Differentiation – Know what sets you apart from another. What’s your unique value? How do you stand out?
4. Relevance – Get a firm understanding of how relevant your skills are to your company and your team.
5. Presence – Ask yourself if you are visible enough. Be present at the table.

Q: What career coaching or advice have your received along the way
A: 1. The importance of presence and how you show up because 80% of communication is non-verbal. People form perceptions of what you’re like to work with and if you’re good at what you do by the impression you leave behind.

2. The need to have incredible self-awareness. You need to ask for feedback from people who will tell you nothing but the truth so you can improve. Feedback in the moment is critical and you must be willing to accept the good and the bad.

3. To continually evolve and stay relevant. I believe that if you focus on developing yourself, the rest will come.

Q: How does your brand impact your career?
A: There are two levels of a brand:
1. Entry level – the brand exudes high quality and efficiency at minimum. This can be equated to you and your career. It’s what’s expected of you.
2. What makes the brand unique? – the brand offers distinction and uniqueness. Think about what makes you and your skills unique. It’s what makes you stand out from your peers.

Your Brand Promise

Q: How do you describe the brand of “leaders” at Adobe?
A: People think of Adobe as a company full of experts and people who are genuinely nice and collaborative. Our leaders are experts in their field and this translates to the people who work with them and ultimately, how Adobe is perceived externally. As a leader, your brand will always be associated with how you treat people and how good are you at your craft. A good leader needs to embody thought leadership, results leadership, people leadership and personal leadership.

Q: How can you rebrand yourself and move your brand in a new direction?
A: It starts with having a good track record. Do you have a winning trend? Are you willing to do the hard work? Having a good track record will give you brand permission to stretch outside the box. It’s important to continue being a “student” and have “passionate curiosity”. Keep re-inventing yourself and ensure that you’re constantly “stretching” from a career perspective. Don’t fall into the trap of being in the comfort zone and ask for what you want.

Key takeaways:
• The foundation of your brand begins with understanding your career aspirations, your values (personal and work), strengths and what you’re passionate about.
• Define your brand statement by answering these simple questions:
– I am all about…(your promise of what you will deliver) OR
– I’m known for…(your top strengths/attributes) and my expertise is…(your unique skills/experience)
• Share your brand statement with people you trust and ask them if that’s an accurate reflection of how they view you
• Keep re-inventing and stretching yourself

We realize that defining your brand is probably easy. Living up to that promise is harder. Feel free to share your comments or perspectives. We’d like to hear from you.