Just as a product tells us something about its brand’s verbal identity through written and spoken words in advertisements and directly on a product’s packaging, so do we tell the world something about our personal brand through the words we write and speak. Read on to find out how to review and transform your personal brand’s verbal identity so that your brand speaks great volumes about who you are and the value you bring to a business.
Since no one reading this blog can recall a time in their life without radio or TV, I can safely write that all your life you’ve received audio/spoken messages about products. You’ve also received many written messages about products (such as in print ads and direct mail). Now we can add the Internet as another source of verbal product information!
Contrary to what most people believe, the word “verbal” refers to both spoken and written words. (If you went to college in the U.S. and took the SAT entrance exam, you remember the exam has two parts: math and verbal. The verbal part of the test is not oral, it’s written. So the word verbal
can mean written or spoken words.)
All of the messages tossed at us about products are intended to persuade us to buy. A product’s verbal messages are part of its verbal identity.
Brand managers focus their product’s verbal identity to be one or more of the following: relevant, distinct, consistent, memorable, entertaining, or emotional. How a product’s verbal identity is intended to persuade us to buy (when we are its target market) depends on who we are as a target market, what we will respond to, and what the product actually is.
Branding yourself also involves creating a verbal identity. Your brand messages come together in:
- the names & titles you give your ideas & projects
- your voice
- your name
- your title
- messages or sound bites used to back up your projects and ideas
- anything you say at meetings or presentations
Similar to a product, your personal brand’s verbal identity needs to be relevant, distinct, consistent, memorable, entertaining, or emotional (or any combination of these).
Think of your projects and ideas from the past. What would have been good titles or catchphrases for them? What projects are you working on now (or will you be working on in the future)? What would be good titles for those projects?
I live in a part of the U.S. where many of us have a Chicago accent. It sounds nasal because we speak with our tongue too high in the back of our mouth. To change this, I’ve taken speech lessons and I have a recording from Dr. David Alan Stern, which helps me change my accent.
Some of you may have regional accents that are fine. You may, however, need to work on the strength of your voice (I’ve done that, too). If tweaking or strengthening your voice in some way would help improve your verbal identity, check out Dr. Stern’s website at http://www.dialectaccentspecialists.com/store/.
Meetings and presentations are a great way to showcase your verbal identity, whether you lead them or not. This article is too short for a comprehensive discussion about what you can do to enhance your brand’s verbal identity. However, whether you’re leading or contributing to a meeting, developing a plan for what you say will help you come across as relevant, distinct, consistent, and memorable (and maybe even entertaining!).
Believe it or not, your name and how it sounds can add to or detract from your brand’s verbal identity. Is your name very common? (like football coach John Smith who added his middle initial to become John L. Smith). Are you a woman whose name sounds fine, but your husband’s last name doesn’t sound as good with your first name as your maiden name sounds? (I had a friend in college whose name was Beth, maiden name Brownawell, who married a guy named Piff. Yeah. Beth Piff. Another sorority sister named Amy married a guy whose last name was Ems. Amy Ems.) My youngest brother hated the fact that he was “the third” and that it is part of his formal name, until he graduated from college and let the school list him in the program with “III” after his name. Now he knows it’s distinctive. Is there something about your name you could tweak to make it distinct and memorable (in a good way)?
When I was in my 20’s, I thought corporate titles were written in stone. You know what? They’re not. Does your title help or hinder your brand? Study the titles of people at different types of companies, such as technology companies and others that like to be on the cutting edge with their products and services. What are some great-sounding titles that stand out to you? What would be a better title for you than the one you have right now? Who has the authority at your company to change titles?
As a final thought, think of some people who have a strong, positive verbal identity that fits their brand well. Study them. What else can you pick up to make your brand’s verbal identity relevant, distinct, consistent, memorable, entertaining, or emotional?
Glory Borgeson is a business coach, author, and speaker.
Do you want some help developing your own personal brand? Glory has created the “Brand Yourself! Coaching Program”. It is a self-paced coaching program you can purchase directly from Borgeson Consulting. Since it is a self-paced coaching program, it is very affordable – less expensive than traditional coaching by telephone, and you complete it at your own pace.
The “Brand Yourself! Coaching Program” has 10 modules, taking you through each of the essential elements of personal branding.
Check it out on Glory’s website by clicking here.
Or call (630-653-0992)
or e-mail (info@BorgesonConsulting.com) to find out more about it.