Be Your Own Brand (BYOB)

My first encounter with BYOB

In 1988 I went to the US for the first time, on an AFS exchange program. The confrontation with a new culture, so similar yet so different from what I was used to in Europe was eye-opening. For example, we weren’t that used to using abbreviations, such as BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) … and I certainly wasn’t used to having to bring my own drinks to a party.

That interesting confrontation, which initially lasted for about a year, left me fascinated with a lot of things. One of these was the use of abbreviations or acronyms. These concepts are now well embedded in mobile texting language, because you need them, but at the time, this was rather new. As was BYOB. Over the years, whenever I was confronted with a new acronym, I tried to figure out what it meant. Quite often, I completely missed, but sometimes, the new acronym pushed me on a path to new thinking.

A new interpretation of BYOB

BYOB may be the most important acronym of the current age: Build Your Own Brand. Because if you don’t, in this day and age of Facebook and Google, someone else will. This is more than an advice, this is a necessity, an obligation you have. What is worrisome is that a lot of established brands have yet to find their way to the new social media.

When a picture is worth more than a thousand words

Think about it: you, as a person, are likely to be tagged in a picture on Facebook. A picture can be worth more than a thousand words, but let’s be honest, quite often these words are not necessarily the right words, the words you would choose, the worlds a future employer, client, partner … would like to read. So Build Your Own Brand, and Be Your Own Brand. Be yourself at all times, and be aware that there are many ways inconsistencies in your words, behavior or ideas will out.

Is that scary? Really, it shouldn’t be. Not if you are honest. Not if you are true to yourself. Not if you, as a person, as a professional, as a brand, are what you can be, nothing more, nothing less. Defend your brand, because that is what you have: in this day and age of Internet and ultimate connectivity, your brand is your conscience, your self-image, the person staring back at you. But take in account that what you are looking at is not a mirror. It’s the internet.

Asking the relevant questions

  1. Are you aware of what is out there about you?
  2. Do you know what the sources are of that information?
  3. Is that information consistent with who or what you really are? Or is it about what you want to be? Or perhaps it’s about who you are when no one is looking? Why is there a difference?
  4. Are you building your brand? Are you actively working on what is associated with you?
  5. Are you too loud about it? Are you sharing everything? Perhaps even what you yourself would consider too much information?
  6. Are you consistent with your brand? At all times? Even when you are tired?

The shortcut to BYOB

The only real way to first Build Your Own Brand and then Be Your Own Brand is to be you. Just try to be yourself. Nothing more, nothing less. Personal risk management by simplicity.

Now go and BYOB!

P.S. If you are wondering how any of this is related to risk management … this may just be at the core of it all. The only real way to manage the risks which are between you and your goals is to manage these from a place of equilibrium, from a place of trust. The only way to get there, whether as a person or as an organization, is to first know what you are about and what you aim to achieve. More concretely: without a goal and purpose, mission and vision, risk management has no subject. Risk management is only relevant in light of clear and specific goals set in the context of a wider vision.