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Burrell’s Co-CEO McGhee Williams Osse: 5 Keys to a Strong Personal Brand

McGhee Williams Osse

McGhee Williams Osse, Co-CEO of Burrell Communications, a half-billion dollar ad agency, is a brand master.

“I build brands for corporations I find ways to persuade consumers to choose one brand over another,” Osse Williams explains. “I’ve come to recognize there are so many parallels between the essence of brands…brands
are so much a part of our world. We’re always branding ourselves, whether we know it or not.”

Williams Osse appeared at the Steed Society’s Female Success Factor, held recently in Atlanta, to share valuable strategies for building a strong personal brand.

The brand master began her presentation with a clear definition of her personal brand:

“I was born in Columbus, Ga., I was a shy country girl from Georgia,” she says. “Today, I am a humble leader, teacher and a grateful giver, that’s my brand, at work, hanging out with my girlfriends or in the community.
I am the co-owner of a very large agency; it hardly touches the surface in defining the significance of my brand.”

What does branding have to do with the human experience, you ask?

“We’re constantly selling ourselves to gain attention, affection and money,” Williams Osse says. “It’s no different with brands; a strong brand can lead to stronger financial standing and status.”

Your personal brand must be authentic, and starts with what’s in your heart, Williams Osse says.

“A brand is simply a promise, it’s what you stand for in the world, and it’s about your purpose. Personal branding is a perception; it’s how someone else perceives and defines your qualities …What matters is the degree to which personal brands are cultivated, recognized, appreciated.”

5 Keys to Effective Personal Branding

Define yourself before others do it for you. “We have a lot of baggage in terms of stereotypes, be very mindful about how you show up so that you make those stereotypes a lie. If you don’t name who you are, anybody can name you. Name yourself; define yourself.”

Understand what branding is — and what it is not. “Branding is not arrogance, vanity, or self-promotion. Personal branding is a strategic undertaking; branding requires time, commitment investment, management, courage and constant re-evaluation.”

Protect your online persona. “What lives online never dies, online technology and platforms can work for you or against you, be mindful about the implications of
your online activity; strive for it to enhance and amplify your reputation.”

Address brand hiccups immediately. If you have a struggling brand, “let’s not get to the point that we’re in crisis before we start dealing with our personal brands. The process should start now.”

Be inspirational. “There are strong brands and there are weak brands. Strong brands inspire; weak brands often lack clarity and are not perceived as having impact; they are inwardly focused and not outwardly focused.”

Williams Osse adds that you are a true brand master “when your brand ceases to exist for your own good or gain and begins to exist for the good and service of others. That is the highest order of personal branding.”