You are the owner of your brand. That’s right. You are a brand — the one and only truly amazing you! And guess what? It’s up to you to let people know you are, what you stand for and what you do better, greater or different than anyone else. Personal branding is a tough assignment for most people. Self-packaging can feel like ego-tripping, but it’s not. Well, maybe just a teeny bit. Mostly, personal branding is a savvy strategic communications step for anyone who wants to stand out in a rapidly shifting and increasingly competitive marketplace.
Whether you want to land your dream job, make sure your voice and ideas are heard or engage with and expand your tribe, your brand is your calling card. This brings us to the question: Exactly what is a personal brand anyway? It’s what you bring to what you do and how you do it. Your brand is what you’re known for and how people experience you. It’s your reputation, your identity and in the DNA of everything you do.
Once upon a time, we didn’t have to pay as much attention to our personal brand. Branding was something relegated to big companies with big budgets and big branding campaigns – think golden arches, a red bulls eye symbol, etc. Chances are you recognize the identity of these companies and what they stand for from the mere mention of their symbols. If you want to create a personal branding system for yourself, you don’t have to have a big wallet but you do need to invest some time and energy into personal branding.
Come on, aren’t you worth it? Below are some exercises and tips to help get started on one of the most exciting and beneficial projects you’ll undertake in your life!
Give yourself space to reflect Taking time to think about your unique strengths, skills and attributes is not navel gazing. Who is more qualified than you for the task? You need to give as much thought to managing your unique package of attributes as you would any other of the assets you value. Ask yourself, what makes me stand out to my family, friends and others I come in contact with? What am I recognized for? What is it I want to be known for?
Write a personal mission/vision statement this articulates what you’re all about, your purpose, beliefs and what you seek to accomplish in the world. It reflects your core values, which you will want to spell out and list as you develop statement. Here are a few relevant examples, courtesy of an article on branding that appeared in November 2014 edition of Forbes Magazine:
“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
“To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.” ~ Amanda Steinberg, Dailyworth.com
“To help people find hope after loss,” ~ Gloria Horsley, Open To Hope
Make a list of words or phrases you use to describe yourself. Do you see yourself as focused, determined, and creative? Don’t think too hard about this. Keep it fun. Just list whatever comes to mind. Next, write the list of what people say to describe your qualities. What resonates with your self-perception and self-image? This is your brand.
The Personal Branding Equation
Your Self-Impression = How People Perceive You
Promote yourself A strong personal brand is not going to provide much benefit unless you have valuable output to pair it with - a great service, a great blog, a great app, great public speaking engagements, or something else. You need to spend as much time creating your stuff (whether that’s blog posts, videos or artwork) as you do building relationships.
Blog, Social Media Be present and active on social media.This is crucial in terms of giving people the ability to feel like they know you. Keep your personal social media accounts under a slightly different name (your first and middle, for example) and attach your real name to public social media accounts. These will come up when people look you up.
Speak up Weigh-in on relevant issues and topics. If leadership and/or expertise in a particular area or topic are your bailiwick than share your views and perspectives on current events by submitting Letters- -to- the- editor and op-eds to your local and national newspapers.
Build your tribe/community Think of social networking sites as a community. Connect with people who share your interests and are exchanging ideas in social media. Respond to posts and questions. Leverage your blog or other social media assets to reach out to and engage with members of your “tribe.” Bestelling author and marketing guru Seth Godin defines a tribe as “any group of people, large or small who are connected to one another, a leader, and idea.” Tribes need leaders. Personal branding is among the many tools you have at your disposal to help you lead your tribe.
Your branding checklist
This last check point may cause some stomachs to flip as it may call upon you to further to consider moving outside of your comfort zone. This is okay! Change is good for you. Do the clothes you wear for public appearances reflect your brand? What about your hairstyle and cut? Sometimes, updating your personal style is the perfect way to turn the page and start a new chapter in your life.
Remember, whatever changes you make, the important thing is to find ways to make your new style more "you." Personal branding is about becoming more of who you are, not someone else. Have fun!