SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: FORT Review – a thought leadership platform that aims to strike a finer balance between timely and timeless ideas by producing cutting edge thought-leadership pieces – went live with a new video series in February 2018.
Directed by FORT director, Bongani Morgan, the thought-provoking nine-part video series presents alternative and interesting viewpoints on varying subjects including black voices and black excellence, women in business, erotic capital and building your personal brand.
Marketing industry heavyweight, Romy Townsend is one of the contributors for this edition of FORT Review. Townsend’s contribution is titled ‘The Purpose-Driven Brand‘. In her article she gets into the subject of personal branding, what it means and how to go about it. “I think we all seek purpose in life: Something to make sense of our existence, and give our brief time on Earth meaning beyond fame, reward and recognition,” says Townsend.
Screen Africa chatted to Townsend to find out more about ‘the purpose-driven brand’ and what personal branding means to her:
Tell us a bit about your journey and personal branding?
Personal branding is still new to me. I am still discovering and evolving my personal brand, but the reason this topic piqued my interest was when I changed industries about 18 months ago. Prior to that, I had spent a number of years in one organisation and I realised that when you spend a long time in one place, people inside the organisation build up a perception of you, whether good or bad. When I received an opportunity to work for a new business I saw it as an opportunity to “reinvent” myself. I had grown a lot over the past decade and I knew myself a lot better, this was my chance to hone in and project the skills I wanted people to notice and to lean on me for. Sometimes the journey is about un-learning or un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can feel confident to be who you are meant to be, that’s what personal branding is to me.
As a women in business how do you use your ‘personal brand’ in that space? What ‘tools’ of a personal brand is one able to use in the professional space?
I define one’s personal brand as being purpose driven. It is more about intrinsic qualities than it is about extrinsic qualities but I understand that being a woman in business means that in some, sometimes most instances – the extrinsic can matter more. I believe you need to be true to yourself and be as authentic as possible. Women have to prove themselves more than men do and I find that one of the best ways to do this is to let some of my qualities show to divert attention from the extrinsic. I use a different set of skills such as wit and humour for example, this changes the extrinsic perception immediately and allows your true potential to shine. Women need to have a clear direction and purpose so that the poor societal norms that weigh us down do not distract us.
Your article is title ‘The Purpose-Driven Brand’, and you mention purpose in your video, tell us a bit more about what purpose means to you?
Purpose can be big or small, it can be the thing that gets you up in the morning or makes you love what you do every day. Once I knew what that purpose is, I found spaces and people that help me access or get closer to that purpose every day. Purpose can also be something that is ever-evolving, sometimes it changes because you change as you discover and in a few years from now I may be needed somewhere else, so be open to it evolving. Your personal brand can also influence whether you are considered for work, how much time people will be willing to give you, how valuable your thoughts and opinions are and how much a business is willing to pay you for what you do. The most important thing about building your personal brand is that it tells others what you are about so you need to live it authentically. This is when networking opportunities start to happen, and where you bump into individuals who share similarities with your purpose and get you closer to it every day.
In your article you say that ‘building your personal brand requires strategy’. Talk us through this in your personal journey, and what are some practical steps you would advise for someone who is seeking to find their purpose in life?
Reflection is key. We have to take time out of our busy lives to think. Keeping a journal can also be helpful, document what inspires you, or lessons learnt along the way. Think about what you really care about, what gets your blood boiling or what fills your hearts with joy. It’s not about some calling that will suddenly come to you in the middle of the night, it’s about recognising the simple things that make you tick as an individual. Some find purpose in service, some find purpose in creating new things, it can be big or small but it will tell people what you’re about. If you have the goal in mind you can start to plan how to get there, the goal in this case is your purpose and getting closer to that purpose is the plan.
How does your purpose align with your profession today? What are you doing in your capacity as marketing manager at Domino’s Pizza that you would say speaks to your inner purpose?
I have a passion for people and connecting with people. My purpose is to inspire those who come into contact with me. I think South Africa needs leaders at all levels of society, we need better leaders in families, better leaders amongst groups of friends, etc. and we certainly need better leaders in our organisations. My purpose is strongly linked to leadership, I want to bring out the best in the people who report to me and even just those I come into contact with every day. I believe that energy is infectious and if I can impact people in a positive way I am happy and fulfilled.