What is your personal brand?

career advice courses personal development Sep 01, 2021

Personal branding is how we market ourselves to others. It's a timeless concept. The two reasons why branding has always existed on a person level is that we always have to sell ourselves in various situations, from trying to impress our managers so that we can take on bigger projects, to convincing our friend to see a movie. Also, we're always being judged based on first impressions.

From the clothing you wear, to how you behave and interact with other people, to your body language, everything is tied to your overall brand. Corporations are starting to act more like individuals because consumers demand brand engagement and two-way conversations. That's why you see employees tweeting and updating their status messages under a corporate umbrella. The same strategies companies use to brand products can be leveraged to brand people.

For anyone interested in having a successful career, whether you're a job seeker, consultant, student, employee or entrepreneur, your personal brand is everything. It's your reputation, the size and strength of your network, and what unique value you can contribute to a company or your clients.

What are the benefits?

Just like corporate brands, people can demand a premium price (a higher salary) based on brand value. Coca Cola is more expensive than a supermarket brand, yet it tastes similar. Consumers are willing to pay more for Coke because of media attention, commercials, distribution in major chains such as McDonalds, the history and story of the brand, and the overall experience people have when they drink a Coke. Another benefit is that you will become more visible and be recognised by your peers, hiring managers, other successful business people, and entrepreneurs. With visibility comes speaking engagements, jobs, clients, celebrity and the opportunity to make a difference! People will want to work with you, work for you, and support your career.

The network that you develop because of your brand can protect you from today's uncertain work environment. Branding also gives you a sense of being, confidence and purpose.

The four steps in the personal branding process are: • Discover: In order to really understand who you are and carve out a career path moving forward, investing in self-discovery is critical. In fact, if you don't spend time learning about yourself, your values, personal mission, and unique attributes, you will be at a disadvantage when marketing your brand to others. Start by asking yourself "what do I want to be known for?", and then select a niche so that you can position yourself in the marketplace

• Create: Your personal branding toolkit may consist of a blog, website, business card, resume, video resume, reference document, cover letter, portfolio, social network profiles, or a combination. Your brand must be consistent and reinforce each part of your toolkit.

• Communicate: Now it's time to use everything you've created to let people know you exist. You can communicate your brand by attending professional networking events, writing articles for magazines and media sites, commenting on blogs, connecting with people on social networks, and reaching out to the press.

• Maintain: As you grow, mature, and accelerate in your career, everything you've created has to be updated and accurately represent the current "brand you."

How to build your personal brand?

A ‘personal brand’ is in many ways synonymous with your reputation.

It refers to the way other people see you.

Are you a genius?

An expert?

Are you trustworthy?

What do you represent?

What do you stand for?

What ideas and notions pop up as soon as someone hears your name?

If you’ve been around for a while you’ve probably already developed a personal brand. People recognise your name, what you’re working on, what you offer and what you’re about.

This article will help give you the tools by outlining the components of a strong personal brand.

1. Look at your personal brand as an investment. Your personal brand has the potential to last longer than your own lifespan. While the projects you’re working on might get sold onwards or shut down, your personal brand will persist and (hopefully) add value to each new project you create. People will follow your brand from project to project if they feel connected to it. When launching new projects, your personal brand has the potential to guarantee you never have to start from scratch again.

2. Set goals for your public image. Because your personal brand is built from the thoughts and words and reactions of other people, it’s shaped by how you present yourself publicly. This is something that you have control over. You can decide how you would like people to see you and then work on publicly being that image. Consider your goals for the brand. If you want to sell an expensive course in watercolor painting you’ll need to be seen as someone with the authority to teach others on the topic. If you want to get work for high-end design clients you’ll need to be seen as a runaway talent with a professional attitude.

Two useful springboard questions are: (a) How would you like potential customers/clients to think of you?

(b) How can you publicly ‘be’ that brand? This question is an important one, but a tricky one. Your personal brand is composed of your public actions and output in three main areas:

(aa) What you’re ‘about’. Think about the key ideas you would want people to associate with you. Seth Godin is about telling stories, being remarkable. Leo Babauta is about simplicity and habit forming. Jonathan Fields is about finding ways to build a career out of what you love doing.

(bb) Expertise. Every good brand involves the notion of expertise. Nike brands itself as an expert in creating quality and fashionable sportswear. Jeremy Clarkson (host of Top Gear) is an expert on cars. Even if you’re not interested in marketing your advice, you need to create the perception that you are very good at what you do.

(cc)Your style. This is not so much what you communicate about yourself, but rather, how you do it. Are you kind and unusually enthusiastic, like Collis Taeed? Are you witty and raw, like Naomi Dunford? Are you confident and crusading, like Michael Arrington? Hopefully you’re none of these, or at least, not in the same way. Your style of delivery should be as unique as any other aspect of your personal brand. This doesn’t mean you need to sit down and brainstorm how to be different. If you don’t actively imitate anyone else, it will happen naturally. Read widely and write a lot. If there’s one writer you love and read all the time, you’re probably going to ape them a little bit unless you catch yourself. We all do it.

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