The other day, my friend Brian King referred to me on Facebook as “a straight-shooter.” That’s the kind of thing that could get a lot of likes and comments. And quite a bit of agreement!

Apparently, I have a reputation.

I got to thinking about that reputation while I was at Suzanne Evans’s Be the Change Event for entrepreneurs and people who want to be entrepreneurs. There was lots of learning about messaging and marketing and magic. And about branding.


When Re Perez of Branding for the People took the stage he told us, “Your brand is the perception that’s created in the minds of your audience.”

Oh, you thought your brand was about your logo or your color palette or your tag line? Not exactly. They’re elements of your brand, of course, but this other thing – this perception people have of you – it supersedes the typography and the Pantone numbers and everything else.

Now ideally, we create the perception that we want people to have about us and about our business. That’s what branding experts do with all those tools like fonts and colors and slogans; it’s all about influencing the perception.

But the truth, as Re explained, is that you don’t own your brand. It resides in the minds of your clients and everyone else you encounter. It’s the result of the stories you tell, the way you tell them, and your point of view.

This is what Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was talking about when he famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

So my question is: What is YOUR brand?

And that’s not a rhetorical question – I really want to know what your brand is. And, how you know what your brand is? Is it something people say to you directly … and say about you after you leave the room?

no_bsClearly “straight-shooter” is part of my brand. Because that language or something like it comes up over and over when people talk about me. Sometimes they say “direct” or, as you’ll see in the client comment below, “no-B.S.” The exact words vary, but the theme is consistent.

I wouldn’t say that I intentionally set out to create that branding, but I’m good with it. It fits, don’t you think? And whether I’m speaking to a group or coaching someone who wants to speak, I’m pretty consistently “on-brand,” to use the branding experts’ lingo.

How about you? This brand you have, whether you asked for it or not … what is it? How do you know it’s the perception people have of you? And what does it mean for you to be “on-brand” – what does that look like or sound like?