The Branding of You

By Brian G. Thornton

Have you ever wondered what life would be like  if we were all born as a brand and had no names?  What if we were born as 21-year-olds and college graduates ready to hit the streets with diplomas and plenty of positivity in hand?  With years of schooling, education, and adolescent experiences packaged and life-tested, the only thing left to do is to get that first big job. Well, life didn’t get that memo and neither did those of us reading this at the moment.

It’s sad commentary that this writer has worked for over four decades and enjoyed a creative career in architecture, interior design, and product design. The major was in architecture and minor in art.   With both parents as educators, it helped to navigate through primary, secondary, and high school.  By the university years, it was a natural translation into the five-year program I had selected. Fully on-board for the ride, I began the post-college search well into the junior year looking at internships.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the cyclical economic downturns that would shape and influence my professional career choices for the next 40 plus years.

Following each economic downturn, the early 80’s, 90’s, bubble and then the 9/11 lessons learned I was sort of prepared for the great Recession of 2008-2010.  I had the big corporate jobs, the powerful exposure to international design projects and human resources sensitivity and insulation that created the personal branding.

That personal branding is the connective tissue, the common denominator and recurring theme that got me to the next logical steps on the ladder. So here is the key:

You will always be you, so love, like and promote yourself.   If number 1 isn’t realized, learn what you are missing and work on fixing that.  If you don’t believe in yourself, why should others?

Find a mentor.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be formal but there has to be someone along the way that will impart their life foibles – small lessons learned, mini-failures that you can learn from.

Take the lessons learned and make sure you apply them to yourself – realizing you may not have the same skill set as your mentor but being true to yourself – what am I good at?  Whatever that is, honestly be the best at it and build from there.  Not everyone is good at everything.

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