Pledging your time and talents to a brand influences your identity. It’s a joint undertaking as both you and the brand believe in the suitable match. The points of compatibility are much like the ones in a personal relationship, however more complex. A brand is a myth before a being. By recognising your place within a brand ecosystem, your personal purpose can be contextualised and optimised for you and the brand.
Throughout my career I joined brands I believed in. Their image and product spoke to the beliefs and conclusions I made before receiving their interview invite. They had a perspective I wanted to understand further, as well as the people that were also attracted to this vision. It’s much like finding a group of friends and establishing your regular hangout, inside jokes and shared interests all at the same time. The meaning behind this accelerated relationship unfolds more as your time at a brand lengthens.
It took time before I could form meaning around working at a brand. A brand goes beyond being a company. If a company is a machine, then a brand is an animal. It carries an identity, myth and meaning in addition to its organisational structure. We chose to be a part of a brand for multiple reasons both practical and emotional. These reasons could include personal identity, professional progression, new experiences, financial situation, required location, former colleagues or offered benefits.
Whatever the reasons, several social contracts are signed with the set-up of your new email account – firstname.lastname@example.org. You undertake the position of ambassador, citizen and stakeholder in addition to your professional title. It’s these three positions that hold more value and importance than your actual function.
When joining a brand, you represent the type of people that the brand supports. Your voice and actions are as much of a brand touchpoint as any marketing campaign. What you say to friends and family about the brand, for example, leaves a lasting impression due this stamp of approval. The associate with your brand holds social recognition and even identification, with questions like, “Where do you work?” common at any social gathering.
The access badge or key to your brand’s building is a passport. It indicates that you belong in this organisation, much like a national document. Changing your allegiance from one brand to the next is never an easy decision. For some it can hold a similar dilemma as moving countries, even if the move is temporary. The product, process and message of the brand will be your new surroundings every day, which will affect your mindset and outlook. Choosing a brand should be done with purpose as you are now a citizen of a greater vision.
A brand brings you into the mix because they see value in your experience and think it can further its vision. By applying your expertise daily to a brand’s mission, you become a stakeholder. When we think of brand stakeholders, owners and investors are obvious answers, but each employee is a stakeholder in a more abstract sense. The brand’s business is now your business, and it’s expected that you will deliver results. Advancing your career is as much about gaining new skills as it is proving those skills can be applied.
A brand will always be bigger and more complex than any one individual. It can span generations and affect ideologies outside of its market share. By gaining a perspective of your place within the organization, it helps you make better decisions for yourself and the brand you work for. So many times, it can feel like a brand becomes a part of your identity. And it does. When joining a brand, you are assuming the roles of ambassador, citizen and stakeholder. Though such positions can feel invisible or unmentioned, they greatly affect your identity and future relationship with any brand.