Brands are essential to corporate identity. Successful company branding can make a lasting impression on consumers, solidify market presence, and increase organizational value. At their best, brands establish instant recognition and lifetime loyalty, sometimes representing the organization's greatest asset.
By the same token, personal branding is important for all professionals, and perhaps especially critical for internal auditors. Establishing a brand can enhance an auditor's stature in the organization, as well as increase the perception that he or she can serve as a trusted advisor and provide value. Conversely, practitioners who neglect branding may face significant career adversity, such as finding themselves "on the outs" after delivering bad news to the C-suite or struggling after a post-merger consolidation of the audit function.
Like an organization's culture, a personal brand exists whether the individual knows it or not. Internal auditors need to intentionally craft their brand--and once established, that brand must be actively managed and maintained.
WHAT IS A PERSONAL BRAND?
More than 20 years ago, management consultant Tom Peters coined the term personal brand in a Fast Company article titled, "The Brand Called You." Peters said of personal brand, "Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."
A more recent notion of personal brand comes from Daron Pressley, a sales and marketing consultant who leads branding workshops. According to Pressley in his Branding and Brand Management Workshop Reference Guide, "Success is about the mirror you look into each morning and how you use the reflection you see to shape the life you live. This is personal branding."
Although definitions may vary, personal brand almost always refers to someone's authentic personal image--the amalgamation of qualities that make an individual unique. It represents someone's professional presence, encompassing both business skills and personal qualities. Those seeking to define their brand would do well to heed playwright Oscar Wilde's advice: "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
Today, personal brand is often linked to one's social media presence, though every interaction is a branding opportunity--whether in person, through email, or by phone. Failure to treat people with respect, or communicate professionally, can impact personal brand.
WHY IS A PERSONAL BRAND IMPORTANT?
Developing a strong personal brand can benefit an internal auditor's career in many ways. First, it can help a practitioner assess him or herself as a professional and gauge career status. The process requires some homework and self-reflection, which can help reveal development opportunities the auditor may want to pursue.
Second, an effective personal brand can help an auditor achieve recognition as a well-rounded professional with accomplishments outside of the organization. For example, a brand that encompasses volunteering at a local IIA chapter, participating on a board committee, or making other professional contributions can help...