Years ago, I was starting a new sales position for a printing company. I went to three weeks of training in Atlanta, and when I got back, I was assigned a sales mentor who took me out for a few days to show me the ropes. Larry was awesome! He was not only encouraging and thoughtful in sharing his insights, but I noticed some very unique ways he stood out from other salespeople I’d known.

Larry always wore a red tie, white shirt and gray suit (remember, this was a long time ago when guys wore suits and ties daily). This was his uniform. He was a taller guy and really made an impression when he walked in a door. Clients knew his look and appreciated it—you might even say they participated in his brand with their observations. It was amazing how many of his clients commented on his tie of the day (the only true variable in his ensemble).

Larry also had a Mr. Peanut pen (the Planter’s icon). It wasn’t your normal pen and wasn’t used for normal writing—it was used exclusively for purchase order signing. Again, Larry used his sense of branding to have a special pen in his suit coat pocket that was only used when his mission was successful. I swear, several times when we visited clients, they would say, with a giant smile on their faces, “Did you bring Mr. Peanut? I’ve got a couple of things to order.”

He not only made an impression on his prospects and clients but on me. Throughout the day, as we traveled from one stop to the next, I realized that Larry was always backing into his parking spaces. Most people I knew pulled into their spots. Finally, after the first day, I had to ask him why. “Tim, when I come out of every meeting, with a PO or empty-handed, I know that my first move is forward. On to the next opportunity.” I’ve practiced that nugget of Larry’s brand for over 30 years now.

Have you thought about what your personal brand is? What makes you unique? As you spend some time with clients, coworkers, family and friends over the coming months, ask them how they might define your personal brand. Brand, after all, is in the eyes of the beholder.

Tim Padgett

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
—Martha Graham

“Act as if it were impossible to fail.”
—Dorothea Brande