This week I went through the process of filing a trademark with ipaustralia. As I was reading up on the steps involved with lodging an application and getting a better understanding of what makes up a trademark, I came across this phrase: 

“Your trademark, often called a brand, is your identity. It’s the way you show your customers who you are.”

This got me thinking about how I communicate as a leader? When it comes to the way I communicate, what would be my trademarks? What are the ways in which I show (insert audience) who I am?

In my program ‘Lead the Room – Communicating for Change’ I like to draw the parallel between communication and a car. Effective communication is a vehicle for change. It helps us move people from where they are to where we need them to be. Great leaders don’t just speak, they influence. But before people get in the car, they want to be able to trust the driver. Brands with a strong trademark build trust. Our communication trademarks build trust in those we lead. 

Trademarks can be many things but if you were to take just a few of the types listed on ipaustralia and do some self reflection, you can start to build a picture of what yours could potentially look like.

1. A Single Word

If you were to describe the way you communicate in one word. What would that word be? Would it be:

  • Authentic
  • Strong
  • Empathetic
  • Honest
  • Real
  • Inspiring
  • Persuading
  • Passionate

We would all like to think we are many of the words listed above but if you could only choose one, which would you choose? What other word not listed would you use? What matters most to you in the way you lead and communicate? When we find this big word that resonates deeply within us, it shapes and forms a foundation for how we communicate and begins to form our communication trademark.   

2. Series of Words

Did you struggle to find one word? What if I gave you a few words to build a phrase. What would the tagline of your communication be? Think of memorable trademarks like ‘Nike – Just Do It’ or ‘Subway – Eat Fresh’. Would yours be: 

  • (Insert Your Name) – Believes the best 
  • (Insert Your Name) – Genuinely cares
  • (Insert Your Name) – Speaks well of others
  • (Insert Your Name) – Empowers others
  • (Insert Your Name) – Inspires action
  • (Insert Your Name) – Tells the truth 

The tagline for your communication is usually the way people describe you in passing hallway conversation. When someone hears you are speaking at the next team meeting, what is their initial response? It will probably sound something like “I love when (insert your name) speaks – he/she always (insert your tagline)”. 

3. An Image

When I say holiday. What image comes into your mind? For some, you went straight to your favourite holiday destination in your mind. Sitting by the pool, cocktail in hand or out adventuring and exploring in exotic destinations. What image pops into a person’s head when your name comes up in conversation? Is it a good image? 

  • Smiling Face
  • Open Book
  • Helping Hand
  • Safety Net 
  • Lighthouse 

Our interactions with people leave a lasting impression. The way we communicate can leave an image in a persons mind of a leader who cares, engages, empowers and uplifts or a negative interaction can leave an image that can taint a reputation or personal brand. 

By Design or By Default 

What are your communication or leadership trademarks? Perhaps answering these reflections have given you an idea of your ideal trademark. But the ultimate test is to ask those around you. Take a minute and ask them the same questions

  • Describe how I communicate in one word
  • Describe how I communicate in just a few words 
  • What picture comes to mind when you think of the way I communicate? 

If their answers are different to yours. It may be time to be more intentional about how you are building your brand. Your trademarks can be by design or by default. You have the power to choose.