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Whether your cocktail of choice is a Shirley Temple or a Dirty Martini, there are multiple versions of each.  Brands of ingredients, the type of glass, the temperature, and when and where you drink them all roll into the experience of the drink – which is indeed its Brand.  I remember a country club executive chef encouraging me to enjoy a dirty martini w/ Roquefort dressed green olive, spray of vermouth, very expensive gin, crusty with ice and a puff of a very expensive cigar.  I had to admit the taste was wonderful – and – thank goodness, I didn’t need to puff that cigar twice.  I do remember this 21-year-old experience very vividly!  The brand of that 1-time experience was so powerful; it remains to this day.

Your Brand is a special cocktail, too!  Your personal, professional, and business elements all combine into an experience for your audiences.  Your online presence creates an experience.  Who you are at the gym, grocery store or at a foundation fundraiser creates an experience for those around you.  This is indeed YOUR brand cocktail.

The foundation of your brand cocktail is your personal brand.  It travels with you everywhere – even at home in the am.  Do you meditate, exercise, journal, read emails, check your calendar, hop on social or all of the above?  Your strengths/weaknesses and communication style form the basis of what people say about you when you’re NOT in the room which highlights the fact that your network owns YOUR personal brand.

Your professional brand is the experience your professional colleagues have of you – which turns into what they say about you.  How do you speak to waiters at a business lunch?  Do you ask or repeat their name?  Treat them with respect?  How you do you empower your team to do well?  Are you on time to a networking event?  Ready to connect with others or stay by yourself?  Again, your behaviors create an experience for your professional colleagues which is your professional brand.

The company you work for or the entrepreneurial business you started also creates an experience for its employees, vendors, partners, customers and prospects.  This experience will support or hinder the company’s success. A marketing officer will attempt to create visuals (i.e. logo) that will highlight the best parts of the experience the company wants to promote.  The logo itself is not the brand.  The logo represents the experience the owners wish their stakeholders to experience.

Over time, the logo and/or the company name by itself may evoke the experience desired- this is a home run for the business.

Does your brand cocktail support you today?  Is it poised to follow you into the future?  First, ask your network how they introduce you to someone who doesn’t know you.  Pay very careful attention to the words they use.  Are they missing a key part of what you think you are i.e. innovative?  If so, ask them if they think you are ‘innovative’.  To inject the ‘innovative’ brand attribute into your network’s consciousness, begin to share the innovative things you’ve done on and offline.  Be generous to others who’ve supported your innovation.  Use the exact word and synonyms to conjure your innovative-ness.  After several weeks of sharing posts, articles, and videos, ask your network to describe you again.  Don’t be surprised if the work ‘innovative’ passes their lips!

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