Your identity is your story

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What is the connection between your professional identity in the marketplace and your value story? In the first part of this article, we tried to establish that your identity should be your main storyteller. It should be doing the job even when you are not present at a particular place or you are not working. Your identity should be the main driver of your storytelling which builds your image and positions you effectively for market leadership.

And we can derive a simple maxim from this principle. And that is: No identity, no story; poor identity, poor story; good identity, good story. The impact of your identity depends largely on what it communicates, and how your clients, customers and other stakeholders perceive you. Take these examples from Nigeria.

Spartans Football Club was a first division club side based in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. In the early 80s, its fortunes began to fluctuate and the burden of sustaining the club side was becoming unbearable for the then state government.

In 1986, frontline Nigerian businessman, publisher and philanthropist, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu bought over Spartans and renamed it Iwuanyanwu Nationale Football Club. The change of name caused uproar in the sporting and soccer industry.

Why? Some sports writers and fans complained that it was not easy for them to pronounce the new name let alone foreigners. But the reason did not impress the Chief, who insisted that the new name of the football club was final. He wondered why those who approached him for sundry donations and sponsorships never complained about his name, only to turn around and do so for his club.

The name of the club has remained so since. It has been so because Iwuanyanwu had the right identity and financial muscle to stamp the new name on the lips of sports fans and pens of sport writers.

If you get your professional and corporate identity right, it will help you to tell good stories about your person and your business with ease. There is value in identity. A good one tells good stories about the owner, and to soar in the marketplace today; to lead; create; win; and change situations for the better; you need to be a good storyteller. A good identity will amplify your storytelling power.

Why do you think, Omegabank changed its identity from Owena Bank? Owena cast  a regional and conservative image on the bank in Nigeria’s banking industry. The management team led by Segun Agbetuyi, which took over in 1993, caught the vision of what a right identity can do for a bank. After setting in motion other change management processes, they concluded that if the bank was to remain competitive in the banking industry, it should break out of the limitations imposed by the Owena name and image. Management decided to change the identity of the bank to reflect its new vision and mission.

The choice of a new name was not limited to their judgment. They threw it open to the public in a New Name Competition, the first of its kind in recent times. In came Omegabank, while its promotional tagline changed to; “Beyond Your Imagination,” from “Things are Looking Up at Owena Bank.” It was a good move.

The bank was happier for the change. Public perception changed, and the harvest was plenty as balance sheet figures became rosier. There is value in identity.

A good identity is always a plus, but if you do not manage it well, it can slip into a minus. Your international traveling passport is an identity package with value. The values attached to passports by immigration officials at international airports worldwide determine how they treat citizens of any country.

When employers solicit applications from job seekers, the first thing they ask for, is their Curriculum Vitae (CV). Your CV contains your biodata, training, job experience and other information. Your CV condenses your identity. It tells your value story in two to three pages.

Employers base their judgment on your suitability for a job on the value they see in your CV. The better packaged your CV is, the better your chances of getting the job. That is the first yardstick employers’ use in screening thousands of applications for jobs before inviting candidates for interview.

Many professionals have missed job opportunities because their CVs were poorly packaged. If your CV is poor, then you have lost value as a job seeker. Start all over by repackaging it. Seek advice from friends, head-hunters and human resource professionals. Packaging CV is now a professional job. It is no longer a disorganized mass of information. Plenty of skills now go into crafting a good CV.

A good CV adds value to your identity in the eyes of employers. It can give you a head start over other applicants. There is value in identity. Managing and projecting it well tells good stories about you and this can open doors of big business opportunities.


Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as http://www.ezinearticles.com, www.ezinearticles.com and www.writingcareer.com. He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at http://sallywantsahusband.blogspot.com

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