What's your brand? Who are you? What are you known for?
Think McDonalds. What comes to mind besides Ronald? Golden arches? Junk food? Cheap? Large fries--fast? That's brand. McDonalds--a fast food chain restaurant that appeals to kids.
Ok. Now. Think Starbucks. What's its brand? Coffee. Tea. Environmentally friendly. Global clean water. A place where you're allowed to chill. Who does Starbucks attract? The young, up and coming crowd. Future success stories.
Try one more--Nike. Young. Fit. Fashionable. Focused. Daring. Driven. Just do it.
Now, ask yourself--what's your brand? What do you stand for and what do you attract? What would people say about you? Would they call you honest, hardworking, kind, trustworty? Or would they say, "laid back, but nice, generous, fun?" Or, would they think cheater, dishonest, untrustworthy? What have people come to expect from you? And, most importantly, is it who you want to be?
Here's how brand works.
Suppose you cheat, but only sometimes, maybe only in certain classes. Only when you really need to. Teachers know it about you. They talk. Eventually you become known as a cheater. You may not ever get caught. Or, if you do, there may not be any consequences. Except that people know your brand.
Now, suppose there's a test and this time you don't cheat. I mean, you decided to study really hard. The information just happens to click for you this time, and you ace the test. But your teachers already know your brand. They know you're a cheater. This particular teacher can't prove it. She's never been able to catch you, and that makes her mad. So, you ace this test, and your teacher assumes you cheated. Only, this time you didn't. I mean, come on. It's your brand. It's what people expect from you. Just try to prove you didn't do it.
Now you take the heat for it. You get detention, and a zero, and your further branded as a cheater. Your classmates facebook about it. The information moves at warpspeed. Everyone knows your brand.
Your brand is something no one can create for you, and no one can take from you, unless you let them. It's who you are, what you stand for, how you behave, what you're known for. And it sticks, sometimes forever. It can be changed, but it's not easy.
So, the next time you act. Think first. Is this who I am? Is this who I want to be? You get to decide. But, it not easy to fix. So, decide right the first time. What do you want to be known for? What's your brand? Maybe it's your generosity, the fact that you're always willing to help. Maybe you're a person everyone goes to for advice. Maybe you're a great student, or a dedicated athlete. A leader.
Create your brand and be proud of it.
I'll have fries with that, please.