WHO AM I?? Let Your Friends Shape Your Brand

Personal Branding Survey

I am in the process of conducting a personal brand audit.  Which is proving way more difficult than I anticipated.  I figured I know myself pretty well, what's so hard about personal branding?  Come to find out, just about everything.  

Now, I realize that if the concept of personal branding is new to you, my opening statement is highly self-centered.  But during this season of my life, developing my personal brand is crucial.  And if you want to know more about personal branding, I highly recommend two resources

  1. Crush It! - Gary Vaynerchuck
  2. Smart Passive Income Podcast - Pat Flynn

This process has been difficult due to the inherent contradiction between who we believe we are, and how we're perceived.  Now I tend to be pretty self-aware, but by the time I was done writing out my traits, skills, etc. I had way too many ideas.  So many I was completely confused as to how to go forward.  I had no clue how to create a brand that encompassed all of me.  So I took the recommendation of a coach and interviewed about five of my friends and associates.  Which is what I really want to talk about.  Because this was such a great idea and super fun.

I'm pretty sure this same approach could work even if you don't think of yourself as self-aware and can't come up with any ideas.  Either way, my guess is you'll end with the same result.  My friends were able to do something I wasn't: provide clear, concise, and brief description of who I am. 

I asked each friend the same five questions.  Now, if you don't do the brainstorming beforehand, you may want to create additional questions, but these five suited my needs. But I encourage you to try this out because it's hilarious.  So here's the survey, and below I'll explain how to use your answers.

Personal Brand Audit Survey

  1. What are my core skills?
  2. What are my areas of expertise?
  3. What are some of my distinguishing character traits?
  4. What colors, textures, or visuals come to mind when you think of me?
  5. If I could be any animal, what would I be and why?

Ok, that's it.  But, there are ground rules you should follow to play the game properly.

Conducting the Survey

  • You want IMPULSE, first to mind answers.  This is going to be tricky because to get impulse answers, you'll need to be on a call with them (unless you're a total nerd and create a timed online survey).  So prep them ahead of time and let them know that
    • there are no wrong answers
    • don't over-think
    • don't say what they think you want to hear, they need to say what they feel
  • This also helps you understand that you need to interview people you trust and who trust you enough to provide that kind of feedback.
  • Impulse answers are most important for questions 4 & 5.  For 1-3 it's ok if they take some time to think a bit.  But when you get to 4 & 5, prep them.  Make it clear they need to answer with the first thing to come to mind.
  • Type out everything they say.  Don't reject answers, take it all in, unfiltered.  And don't argue if it's something you disagree with.  You need to understand why, not debate what.
  • Clarify their meaning.  If they say something that you don't understand, ask them to explain what they mean.  For instance, one person told me I'm good at storyboarding.  Now, I know I'm not because I don't make storyboards (which according to my understanding is a hand drawn comic strip of the video).  So I needed my friend to explain what they meant.
  • DO NOT tell your friend what other people said before or during their interview.  It will muddy the water.  You don't want to influence them in any way.  You may tell them what others have said only after they have finished the survey.

Making Sense of the Answers

Alright, you have a document with each person's answers.  Now you want to find the patterns.  What is being repeated across the five friends?  If 3 or more people agree on something, it's worth keeping.  If only one person mentions something, use your discretion on whether or not to pay attention.  For instance, 4 out of my five friends came up with animals that were small, nimble forest creatures.  One person said dolphin.  Dolphin was ignored.

You can't take all of the answers at face value.  You need to look beneath them enough to see the essence of what they're describing.  Everyone has their own unique vocabulary.  For example, let's look at the answers I got for texture

  1. Denim
  2. A complex texture.  Like linen.
  3. A rough texture
  4. Wood

At an initial look, these answers don't appear exactly the same.  But if we break it down a bit, it's striking that no one described a slick, polished surface.  No one said something gooey or wet.  Each texture is unified in being complex and rough.  They're also created from fibers woven together.  That's why you want the impulse answer.  Because their subconscious will come up with a unified image that you're communicating in every interaction with them.  And that leads me to the animal answers.

The point of asking question #5 is to keep your survey short.  But there's actually a wealth of information communicated in the animal.  They may not be able to explain it, but they don't need to.  The thing to do later is Google - "(animal name) meaning".  So for instance, someone said dolphin, I Googled "dolphin meaning".  Ok, granted you're gonna get some really weird new age, spirit animal stuff.  I am NOT endorsing spirit animals.  We're going for archetypal, symbolic meaning these animals convey.  Even if people say different animals, you may see patterns in their meanings.  For example, the animals my friends chose had the following traits in common:

  • Preparation, Prudence
  • Play, Enthusiasm, High Energy
  • Social, Cooperation
  • Structure, Building
  • Agile, Decisive
  • Observant, Awareness

I was amazed by the consistency of the answers.  Everyone used very similar words, and if the words weren't on point, the meanings were connected.  Hope you have a blast with this as well!

All the best,