Stage 2: Shifting Your Gears to Become Your Brand – Part I

Once you finish Stage 1 and believe in your brand, you are inspired to advance to Stage 2 and take action to become your brand.

Becoming your brand, however, means you must use all of your gears. This is the leg work and all gears are needed to extract and express your brand to launch your brand forward. If you only use 5 gears you will only get half-way there. To finish Stage 2, you will shift through all 10 gears.

Gear #1: Vision and Purpose

While in gear #1, you pedal along and look at the landscape around you. You take in the overall scenery: your vision and purpose. Your vision is external. It is how you envision the world around you. Imagine being at the top of a 50,000 foot mountain and looking down on your vision of the world. While it is lofty it is a vision that you can contribute to. Your purpose is internal. It is how you actually see yourself pedaling closer and closer to that vision of the world. You might be in this gear for some time as you coast and think. Enjoy the ride and take your time.

Gear #2: SMART Goals

Shifting into gear #2 means you are prepared to map out your route. You have clarity in the course you will ride and the turns you will take to reach your destination. Taking the easy route, however, is not the objective. Gear #2 is a bit harder to pedal so setting your goals slightly higher than usual will force you to exert a bit more energy. In order to reach your destination, your goals need to be SMART. Your route must be ‘specific’. It needs to be ‘measurable’ so you know you are actually getting closer. It has to be ‘attainable’ and ‘realistic.’ You cannot select a route that is impossible to ride given your current abilities and skills. Finally, you need a ‘time-frame’ to reach your destination.

Gear #3: Values and Passions

Now that you have mapped out your route by establishing goals, you can shift into Gear #3. Here you tap into your values and passions. Your values are the operating principles that will guide you when you reach a fork in the road. Operating according to your values will ensure that you make the right decision and will not be swayed by what appears to be a short cut to your destination. While your values guide you, your passions drive you. They energize you and provide the fuel you need to perform better so that you can pedal onward and shift into Gear #4. By being true to your values and connecting your passions to what you do, you begin to differentiate your brand to eventually break away from the pack.

Gear #4: Target Audience

You have worked hard to shift into Gear #4 and are producing results. However, simply working hard is not enough. If others do not see your hard work it will go unnoticed. You have to make your brand visible to a specific target audience who will recognize your unique value and help you reach your destination. To identify members of your target audience think back to the specific destination you mapped out in Gear #2. You already know where you want to go to be successful. Who can help you get there? Where do they work and live? What do they do? How old are they? What are their hobbies? Where do they hang out? By answering such questions you can focus on only those who can help you. This is your niche. Engage them, stay in contact, and remain visible. Once this niche sees your unique promise of value they will see you as the expert and will want to work with you. Your hard work will now pay off!

Gear #5: Competitors / Peers

What distinguishes you from your competitors who want to reach the same destination faster than you? You may be traveling down the same route as them, but how can you make sure people recognize and follow you? You and your competitors may have the same skills and seemingly offer the same thing. What makes you stand out? In Gear #5 you identify your competitors, revisit your brand attributes uncovered in Stage 1 with 360Reach, and understand your differentiation. After shifting into Gear #5 you have reached an important intersection in the road to become your brand—the intersection of knowing yourself, your target audience, and your competitors. It is only at this intersection that you can find your unique promise of value and break away from the pack!

Read Part II for Gears 6-10.

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About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+