What will people remember about you when you're gone?
We all think about that. Will you be remembered for your sense of fun, for the family you raised, for the person you married, for the people you served, for the way you looked, for the way you made people feel, for the business you built?
If you're like most people, you have decided to leave the answer to this question to fate. After all, people will remember what they want to remember, right? They will establish their own opinions and decide what you meant to them, right?
First of all, you don't have to die to leave a legacy. You can leave one every day.
And secondly, you have every bit of control over what legacy you will create. Sure, people will generate their own perceptions…but you have more influence than anyone over your legacy, or the indelible imprint you will leave on all the places you've touched.
That brings me to my next question: Which brand legacy should you work on? Which type of brand legacy will most generously benefit you now and in the future?
It's not overly complicated; however, it's going to need some explaining.
Choosing Your Brand Legacy
You have more choices than you might think when it comes to establishing the professional legacy you wish to create for yourself.
Here are some of your options:
- Your Business: If you choose your business as your legacy (i.e. you choose to brand your business), your success will rely less on (but not without) your personal brand. You will become an employer brand, and if you should choose to move on from that business, it will live on without you (under new ownership, etc.). You will have little or no personal legacy with this approach. Starting a subsequent business will require that you share your resume with new key players…rather than relying on your notoriety alone.
- Your Products/Services: You are familiar with many products, and don't necessarily know the names of the companies behind the innovation and sale of those products. If this is the type of legacy you want to leave, you may choose to do so. Products, like businesses, can be bought and sold with little to-do about change in ownership. Again, your name will not likely be associated with these products and you can sell and move on without circumstance…and you'll move on without grand, highly publicized credit for the creation of those products.
- Your Name: We all know plenty of personal brands that have become global brands. Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson and Adele are just a few. You may choose to do this, too; I would just recommend keeping a few things in mind. You will not be able to scale your business past your own abilities (people will want to work with you, not your protégé or your employee). You will be tied to the personal brand you have chosen to create for yourself, meaning that if you choose to reinvent your legacy, you will have loads of work ahead of you…changing perceptions, overcoming typecasts, etc.
You do not have to choose just one of these options; you must, however, choose a combination that you stick with and work toward building. For instance, I have a business and a personal brand (both of which are represented and built separately, yet supportively, on social media and elsewhere). This allows me to hire team members to work within the business to accomplish my goals there, whilst still maintaining my personal, professional reputation for future endeavours. I can bring commerce to my business through my personal brand, and I can bring attention to my personal brand through the projects I innovate in my business. I also own a product legacy, The Brand Brains Magazine, which will be sold and become someone else's legacy at some point. It has its own Facebook page, its own identity and its own purpose. This is a legacy I have created and that I am thoroughly proud of and happy with, though it will not be my culminating legacy.
Your idea of the brand legacy you want to build is likely to evolve as you go along. For instance, I fully expected my brand to be a personal one. I quickly realised that there were too many customers—I simply couldn't serve them all on my own. And so, I created businesses that demonstrated my personal brand's values in order to accomplish all the things that I and my customers wanted to accomplish. I never really envisioned myself as an employer, but here I am, creating the world's most valuable online branding resource with the help of employees, affiliates, joint ventures and contractors.
No matter how you choose to live out and fortify your legacy, one thing is for sure: the dream and the reality of it all starts with YOU. You can stay out in front, or you can create something that represents your ideals and becomes the brand you want to see in the world.
How will you proceed? What are your dreams and how will you go after them? Share what you're feeling, what you're thinking…and even ask for advice and opinions…in the Brand Builders Club, the place where freedom-focussed entrepreneurs and business owners go to learn how to build their purpose-driven brands. Click here for more info.