Your Signature Brand (Issue 431)

In which we are reminded that we can control and modify our personal brands. At the end of a dinner, I watched my companions sign their credit card slips.

On my right, the signature was a hard, tight-circled little blot followed by a fast, right-slashing line. On my left, a laborious, slow rendition that reminded me of fourth-grade, tongue-protruding, fat-penciled cursive writing classes. Across the table, a few rapid up and down loops that looked like a seismic monitor on a rough day. Amazingly, the signatures matched well with my companions’ life approaches, ranging from “blot and slash, oh, I am SO important and these details are SUCH a bother” on my right to “it’s a dangerous world out there, I need to be careful” on my left.

No big believer in hidden meaning handwriting analysis, I know signatures vary depending on what we’re signing, amounts involved, humidity, and blood chemistry. Yet, signatures are personal; we choose how we want our names to look. We don’t learn signatures copying letters in copy book. Some people (and, big surprise, that included me) experiment intentionally to develop unique signatures (and mine is…um…unique). And, why not? It’s a very personal brand logo we leave behind, just as important as our companies’ brands and logos (which, by the way, they paid gazillions to develop).

For clients who pay attention, clues about our “brands” hang on us like Christmas tree ornaments. In addition to signatures, our clothing, accessories, social habits, and work product communicate clues about us.

We (consciously or unconsciously) make choices on all of these and many other elements; together, they communicate our values and patterns just as surely as the dark (or gray) suits, white shirts, and “sincere” ties that were IBM employees’ public uniform” for most of the 20th century.

While we could make ourselves crazy thinking through EVERY element of our thoughts, behavior, and choices as a brand, feeling as contrived as July snow storms in Boston, the question is: What do your clients care about? What brand do you want to create with them so that they think of you, feel comfortable with you, and prefer you. It’s your signature brand – you, genuinely, on purpose.

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