• Chris Ward

In case you were wondering, everyone has a brand—including you!

According to an article in Forbes, tennis star Maria Sharapova is the highest paid female athlete in the world. Just 27 years old, she not only wins tournaments, she has major contracts with Nike, Head, Samsung Electronics, Tag Heuer, Evian and Porsche.


Sharapova’s success has been fodder for many writers. Recently, an old article in the New York Times caught my eye. What can one say about the New York Times?  In my opinion, it's among the best newspapers in the world—well written and generally well researched. But something in this article on Maria Sharapova surprised me:

But it is her competitiveness off the court that has made for a more riveting match in recent years, as Ms. Sharapova fights for turf among those athletes who aspire to become brands

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Athletes who aspire to become brands!

Many writers, including former New York Times writer Eric Wilson, make the mistake of assuming that an individual is only a Brand when they acquire celebrity status, wealth, incredible success, etc. The truth is every individual—you, me, Maria Sharapova… everyone—has a Brand. We don't aspire to become one—we already have one. Think of anyone you know, or know of, and you’ll come up with adjectives to describe that individual. At it’s simplest, a Brand is what we think about someone: What he or she would be like to employ, work for, play with, go out with… you name it.


So what does this mean for you and me? Most importantly, we should never lose sight of the fact that we each have a Brand. People like Maria Sharapova have worked very hard at cultivating the kind of Brand that will entice people to buy the products they endorse. Or the products they own. Maria’s personal brand is expected to propel her new candy company, Sugarpova, to first-year sales of $5 to $6 million.


Don’t leave it to chance

Unfortunately, too many of us pay little attention to our own Brand. Need proof? After a business meeting a colleague asks what you think of the new sales rep. You've met this individual a few times, but all you can come up with are words like okay, pleasant or strange. Contrast this with someone who has made a real impression on you—clever, ambitious, interesting, creative, talented, hard-nosed, workaholic… whatever. Very often you know that this individual is working hard to present him- or herself in a certain way. Whether their goal is to be liked, respected or simply noticed, this is not someone who is leaving their Brand to chance.


The point is everyone has a Brand. As people like Maria Sharapova can attest, the spoils of victory belong to those who understand the Brand they've got, or could have, and make the effort to harness its power.


On a personal level, this is what owning your space is all about.

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