I know a number of people whose brand has expanded so successfully that they have more than one department. The fact is that our lives are so varied now – many of us divide our time between career, family, friends, hobbies, and charities. It’s hard to juggle, but with the right balance, you can make your hectic schedule work for you and your brand.
Most of us work to pay the bills, and many of us also use our careers to fill other needs in our lives: social, creative, and egotistical. Our brands are usually centered on our professional selves: this is the most difficult part of our lives, the part in which we’ve invested most of our financial focus. Your brand should reflect your specialty and your philosophy, and should immediately call to mind those qualities that set you apart from the herd in your industry.
Your brand can also include other components of your life. However, you want to position these elements so that they don’t distract from your main brand, and to ensure that you don’t publicize the lives of people who may not want attention called to themselves.
Your family always needs to come first. When it comes right down to it, your family should be the reason you’re doing all of this. Working is a requirement for all of us, but a career for its own sake can be a lonely endeavor. If you have family, make time for them and build the rest of your life around their needs.
However, your family does not necessarily need to be a major component of your brand. I have a friend who hired a branding coach last year to help her re-enter the job market. One of her life components was parenthood: she had a child with Downs Syndrome. The coach thought the woman should publicize her child’s condition as a means of setting her apart from the crowd – but the woman is an accountant! In no way was her child’s condition relevant to her brand. While she loves her child enormously, talking about her on her career branding homepage was intrusive and unnecessary. My friend opted to leave the branding coach and take her brand into her own hands.
Your social life may also have little relevance to your brand, and could prove to be a diversion that you simply don’t want. Sometimes the best attention is no attention. If your social life leads you to places you don’t want advertised – drunkenness, carelessness, or nakedness – don’t include it in your brand. You can include networking events if you’re certain that links to the names of your network buddies are going to garner you positive attention.
A lot of people nowadays put information about their hobbies on their career branding homepage. I personally don’t favor that unless your hobby relates to your industry, or you are creative enough to make it relate. I just think there’s something a little off-putting about looking at what amounts to a resume site with a picture of a guy in a Speedo. Believe me—if they are interested in your synchronized swimming skills, they’ll look them up on their own.
Many successful people – and many grateful people – devote much of their free time to charity work. I hate to admit this, but being a Good Samaritan is never bad for a brand. However, when you are including this component of your life as a subsidiary of your brand, you need to be certain you are promoting the charity and not touting your own horn. There’s not much that looks as bad as a person who appears to be only pretending to be a do-gooder.