Your company’s brand is one of the most important factors for its eventual success. It’s the culmination of your company’s identity, packaged and presented in a way that’s pleasing, familiar, and attractive to your prospective and recurring customers.
However, companies and organisations aren’t alone in the need for solid branding.
Personal branding, the art of building a unique brand around yourself as an individual, is just as important.
Just like with a traditional brand, personal branding requires you to find a signature image, a unique voice, and a recognisable standard that your readers, fans, and customers can grow to recognise. It’s about becoming increasingly important because modern audiences tend to trust people more than corporations. Audiences are used to seeing advertising everywhere, and may believe corporations and organisations take actions and speak with only sales in mind.
Personal branding allows you to establish a reputation and an identity while still maintaining a personal level of trust and interaction.
Furthermore, people want to do business with other people, not with companies. Putting a strong personal brand on the frontline of your career can dramatically improve your success rate.
Whether you use your personal brand to consult, freelance, or drive more traffic and trust to your company, it’s vitally important to establish one to stay competitive.
What can I do to build a powerful Personal Brand?
The term branding has long been relegated to companies, but today almost every individual has a personal brand or should have one. Not many of us have consciously cultivated these brands, but they exist nonetheless.
1. Start thinking of yourself as a brand
What do you wish for people to associate with you when they think of your name? Is there a certain subject matter in which you want to be perceived as an expert or are there general qualities you want linked to your brand?
Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand.
You want to be in control of all of those impressions. Why leave your professional reputation to chance, when you can be your own PR guru and manage your image?
Your personal brand is all about who you are and what you want to be known for.
2. Developing your Brand Mantra.
Basically, this is the heart and soul of your brand, according to branding expert Kevin Keller. It’s the foundation of all of your branding efforts.
Sure, everyone knows what a brand is. Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds. But that buzzword is getting thrown around a whole lot in career and job search conversations these days, too. And you may be thinking to yourself, “Why do I really have to care about this?”
Here’s why: whether you’re on the job hunt, a student, or gainfully employed, you must think, act and plan like a business leader. With the surge of social media, you have not only the ability, but you now have the need to manage your own reputation, both online and in real life.
Employers will google you before they even invite you to an interview. Your current employer probably has an eye on what you’re doing, too. And when you interact with people, both online and offline, they’ll build up an image of who you are over time.
And here’s where you come in: you want to be in control of all of those impressions. Why leave your professional reputations to chance, when you can be your own PR guru and manage your image?
**Side note: Need to iron out your personal plan for success? Click here.
3. Be Consistent
Most important is the consistent delivery of products and services with your professional image. Your business performance is what underlines your professional image and personal brand. Your image can be critically harmed if your performance is inconsistent with your brands promise.
Consider how your potential may be discounted by the perceptions of others. You need to ensure you manage that perception. It will make an extraordinary difference.
How you are known; your personal or business brand or your reputation is the most important thing as it is your promise to your client. It will ensure your business or personal integrity, if you seek to maintain it.
**Side note: Need some tips to manage perceptions and becoming more authentically you? Click here; you’re welcome.
Your personal brand affects everything including your:
4. Determine your emotional appeal
For starters, think broadly about your personality and how it affects the experience someone will have with you. Are you insanely organised? Do people love working with you for your killer sense of humour?
Make a list of words that best describe these features of your personality. These words are known as emotional modifiers. Ask yourself the following:
5. Determine your description
Your next step is coming up with a descriptive modifier that brings clarity to the emotional modifier, identifying what or who your brand is for.
In Disney’s case, its “family”.
In Nike’s mantra, “authentic athletic performance”; “authentic” is the emotional appeal, while “athletic” tells you what the brand is for.
As an individual, yours might be an industry (“technology” or “education”), or it might be a tangible skill (“creative” or “strategic”).
6. Establish your Brand “ID”
If you’re trying to build your personal brand, then you need to play the role of brand champion. You need to be your own best advocate.
You never get a second chance to make a great 1st impression.
Did you know it takes only three to five seconds for someone to form a first impression? And while you might wish that opinion were based on your intelligence or experience, most studies show that first impressions are shaped by what can be seen or heard in those initial few seconds. What impressions are you creating?
7. Watch your body language
Your body language silently speaks volumes.
Studies have proven that it has four times more influence on first impressions than anything you actually say. Genuine smiles are a winning ticket for creating a great first impression, as is a firm handshake and purposeful eye contact. Stand tall and be proud of who you are.
8. Find ways to produce value
We’ve all been there. Someone in your network posts something utterly mundane or ridiculous, and you wonder what compelled them to do so? A medium is not a substitute for a message. Find ways to add value to your audience by creating or curating content that’s in line with your brand.
9. Be purposeful in what you share
Every tweet you send, every status update you make, every picture you share, contributes to your personal brand. It is an amalgamation of multiple daily actions. Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand.
10. Associate with other strong brands
Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other brands. Find and leverage strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand. Start with the three C’s: company, college, colleagues. Which school did you attend? Are there groups you can join? An alumni newsletter you can contribute to? What hidden opportunities are available within your company which you have yet to tap? Consider submitting a guest post to the company blog or look at other digital assets you can connect to your brand.
Time to Reinvent?
What’s your story? Take a second to think of celebrities you know who have a strong personal brand. Nelson Mandela, Martha Stewart, Richard Branson. They all have a very clear story and a consistent brand. If you have multiple passions or areas of interest, a narrative becomes even more crucial so there can be unified theme.
Most importantly, remember that a strong personal brand should be ubiquitous and ever evolving.
- By: Marzenna Almendro
Our contributors collectively boast a wealth of experience in assessments, HR, organisational development, change management and more!