What’s your retirement brand? Is there something that people automatically associate with you? Perhaps it’s your welcoming smile, or your cooking, or your deep knowledge of an obscure topic, or your signature perfume.
How people think of you is your personal ‘brand’.
It’s very ‘in’ to think of how you brand yourself. Although it’s difficult to become a brand known internationally — think Celine Dion — how we present ourselves everyday is our brand.
Movie stars, media personalities and politicians have advisors and publicists that hone their personality, appearance and presentation into an appealing ‘brand’ that brings status and recognition.
This expensive process often takes months or years. It might be accompanied by books, consumer products or music. It leads to power, recognition and fame.
For most of us, branding is something that just happens. We brand ourselves without much forethought or planning.
What is branding?
Branding is a form of marketing.
Branding a product involves creating a consistent experience for customers. Hopefully the experience is positive and will make the customer trust the product, recommend it to others and use it repeatedly.
Most of us know the taste of coke — and we also know that it will taste the same regardless of where in the world it is purchased — that’s because we know and trust the brand.
People Also Brand Themselves
Branding applies to people as well as products.
Whether we realize it or not, we market our personal ‘brand’ every day.
From popular media, we know that people judge us within 10 to 15 seconds of meeting us. We are judged on presentation including attire, hair style, behaviour, and communication — both verbal and non-verbal.
Too often we brand ourselves unwittingly and, perhaps, thoughtlessly.
We may want to be known as dependable, generous, charismatic, trustworthy, reliable, creative, or interesting. Yet our behaviour may convey the opposite characteristics leaving people to judge us as unreliable, stingy, unfaithful, boring and fickle.
Social Media and Branding
Social media is a powerful determinant of a personal brand.
Many purposely shape their personal brands by their online presentation. They believe that unless you create your own online brand, others will brand you online and make changing your brand difficult.
They are careful about posting pictures of themselves and family members. They reveal next to nothing about lifestyle or private matters.
Others blast forth with little thought about how comments on Facebook or twitter will play in Google’s unrelenting spotlight. No consideration is given to consistency of online image with ‘in person’ image.
Another group of people craft an online persona detached from reality. When qualifications or experiences are enhanced it should be no surprise when reality and reputation catch up.
A mismatched brand in social media doesn’t work. You are who you are regardless of how you convey yourself online.
During career days, you brand yourself within in your workplace or your profession. You are known for expertise in a field or within a profession.
In retirement, you’ve ditched the job title and the career. How do you re-brand yourself? How do you find a retirement brand? Retirement provides an opportunity for a new image — a new brand.
Start with consideration of your unique attributes. What makes you an interesting person? Are you blessed with a sense of humour? Are you naturally empathic? Are you thoughtful and reserved or bubbly and extroverted? Can you re-make skills from career days into a retirement brand?
You way want to consider the way you spend your time during retirement. For example, you might focus your retirement brand on the volunteer work you do or the ability you acquire in a new career or a part-time job. Involvement with a church, a service club, or a community group may be your personal definition.
What hobbies and activities define you? You might be a gardener or a blogger or an amateur musician. You may be involved with an advocacy group or a political party working to achieve larger societal goals. These activities can become part of a new brand.
The friends you have will influence your retirement brand. Have you reached out to new people who have diverse interests? Do you keep hanging out with buddies from your former career, spending time discussing old times? Do you have friends who can give honest feedback and who help you understand how others may see you? Are your friends interesting people?
What’s your outlook on life? Are you known as a positive and loving person or do you constantly find fault in other people? Do you enjoy every day experiences or are you quick to find fault and complain?
Knowing what you’ve done well in the past, what makes you happy and what you want from your retirement freedom is critical as you define your retirement brand.
Sell Your Retirement Brand
Once you understand your retirement strengths and skills, you can begin to manage your retirement brand. You set the course of your retirement with a positive and confident presentation.
Who you are, how you spend your time, and what makes you happy is the first step.
Next, you can decide what adjectives you want associated with you. Think about tangible and intangible ways you are comfortable in presenting yourself. Think about your unique attributes, sense of humour and personal experiences. These are the aspects of a retirement brand that make you interesting.
Acceptance of who we are, how people view and judge us, is not just about the clothes we wear, the place we live, the shape of our body or the colour of our hair. Rather, it’s about dependability and life management.
A consistent presentation of your best qualities leads to a retirement brand that makes others remember you.
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