“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
Optimize your personal brand!
Managing your personal identity and image as you would market a product is becoming increasingly important as the world becomes more interconnected. Use your personal brand to maximize your position in the market, your value and achievements. In today’s rapidly-paced environment, if you want to get further faster, first you have to know who you really are to develop your brand – then use best practices to manage and communicate that brand to the outside world.
Nike, Coca Cola, Microsoft, Google, Starbucks and McDonald’s: everyone knows what a brand is. And yes, they are big brands, but the same basic principles apply for your own brand. Whether it’s the corporate brand (Apple), the product brand (iPhone) or the personal brand (Steve Jobs), branding is vital to a customer’s perception of your value and their decision to associate themselves with you and your business.
You might think personal branding is just for celebrities, but every one of us is a brand, and as such, we can use the same strategies as corporate brands or celebrities to appeal to others. With social networking, we are effectively becoming micro celebrities amongst our own networks. The stronger your presence within the network and the faster that network grows, the more successful you can be in the long term. Leveraging your personal brand is a great way to make success happen faster and more emphatically.
In this era of increasing interconnectedness, having a personal brand becomes as significant as a corporate brand. If you don’t brand yourself first, someone else will brand you – through other people’s perceptions of you, both online and offline. Take control of the game by proactively creating your own brand and promoting the right impression first.
Entrepreneurs must build larger networks to impact on every aspect of business. Leveraging your personal brand – and the brands of those who work with you – is invaluable. People search online for you or your services, and without a convincing and coherent brand presence, you’re not likely to be taken as seriously. Your own personal brand is transferable, so if you develop a new business or role, you don’t have to start from scratch. Venture capitalists, investors and partners want to work with great people with excellent track records, and good personal branding enhances their perceptions of your excellence. It gives you the edge over others. In a competitive world, any edge counts – fewer people have jobs for life, many people have portfolio careers, and in these independent, individualistic times, personal branding can give you a big edge. It’s essential to be remembered – for all the right reasons.
Over the long term, projecting yourself authentically – promoting the real you out there – attracts the right people and opportunities towards you. It helps people to deal with you in the right way and optimizes your performance over the long term. Social media makes branding not only more personal, but widely and instantly accessible. A simple search online will bring up your entire history – positive and negative. The information is out there, so the best thing you can do is to actively manage it. You must be authentic, or you may be rumbled. There is no place to hide, so authenticity and transparency are the only way to succeed over the long term.
There are four steps in the personal branding process: Discover Create, Communicate and Maintain.
1. Discover Who You Are
Investing in self-discovery is a critical advantage in marketing your brand to others. The better you know yourself, the better you can communicate who you are. The deeper you understand your own strengths, weaknesses, passions, beliefs and values, the more you can incorporate this information into your brand and be highly successful.
Decide who you are, what you do, who you serve, your unique attributes, your values, your personal mission, vision and personal brand statement.
Start by asking yourself “what do I want to be known for?”. Has anyone ever called you ‘amazingly powerful’ or ‘transformational’? That is part of your brand. It’s about projecting the best version of yourself – and living up to it. Always walk the talk. If you’ve discovered your brand, your self-impression should match how people perceive you.
2. Create and Brand the Real You:
Develop your personal branding toolkit of materials such as your personal blog, website, business card, resume, and social network profiles. Use your collateral to promote the best version of yourself, and to make the biggest difference. Your personal brand must be consistent and each part should reinforce the others. Keep working on and improving them all the time. Think about developing:
a) Your 5 Second Pitch
Develop your “brand mantra.” A snappy, memorable, inspiring answer to the question: ‘What do you do?’ FedEx’s brand or offer is “peace of mind.” Disney’s is “fun family entertainment.” Say what you offer in terms of the benefits, not the process. Instead of saying you’re a ‘tax accountant’ (and having them glaze over and walk away), say you ‘make people wealthy’, or ‘save businesses millions’.
b) Your Business Card
This is one of the most effective pieces of personal marketing there is, yet often, very little effort goes into the one thing that can make a huge difference in how you are perceived and remembered. Make it striking and memorable, and include your brief personal brand statement (e.g. ‘Global Megatrends Expert’).
c) Your Website:
Make sure you own yourname.com or a website that fits with your personal brand proposition to some degree. Feature your resume and portfolio of work, online and available 24/7. Design it to demonstrate yourself and your brand in the very best light and use it to help you get where you want to go. Start a blog, or at least have a static homepage.
d) Your Social Profile
Unify your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles with the same branding; photo, completed profile and links to blog/ website and other social networks. Use these means to communicate regularly and consistently with all members of your networks.
e) Your Image
This detail is so often ignored by entrepreneurs, but your own personal style is visible and extremely important. Wear clothing that best represents you and your brand – make every item count and say something about who you are. We process the world visually and it has a powerful effect upon us, so review the photographs of you that are out there, too. Are they consistent with your brand and the image you wish to portray?
f) Your Video Pitch
Video is a very powerful medium for getting you and your message across. So much communication is subconscious – through gestures, facial expression, tone of voice, so you can make deeper connections with your audience than writing, photographs or audio alone. The best way to get someone to feel that they know you and trust you is to make a great video about who you are and what you stand for. Communicate your personal brand, upload it onto YouTube and you can then email the link and feature it in your social media postings and website.
3. Communicate Your Brand Consistently
Communicate your personal brand everywhere you can, regularly. Use every aspect of your Personal Branding Toolkit to let people know your actions and thoughts, to promote your services and to show your personality in regular updates. Remember that everything you say and do, as well as everything that is said about you, is a communication about you and your brand. Every event, every interaction – make everything count.
4. Maintain Your Brand
As you develop in your life and career, consistent updating is required to accurately represent you at any given time. You also need to keep posting, notifying and blogging to ensure that your brand, websites, and profiles are Search Engine Optimized. You’re only as current as your last Tweet!
Since maintaining social networks alone can be a full-time job, get somebody else to do it, but make sure that your brand remains consistent and your values and vision are not compromised. If you want to retain your personal touch, dashboards like Hootsuite can enable you to set up updates across several platforms and schedule multiple or repeat postings in advance, so you can manage your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts more efficiently and send one message across all.
You also need to keep monitoring your brand online to ensure that everything people are writing about you is positive and factual. You can do this with several tools, including a Google Alert for your name.
Nowadays, you need to manage your own reputation, both online and in real life. People will often Google you before they speak to you or do business with you.
Be in control of those impressions. There is no reason to leave your professional reputation to chance, when you can manage your own image and be your own PR specialist. Or entrust someone with doing it for you.
It’s all in the image – and not just the physical one. Whether it’s your body language, the clothing you wear, your behaviour and interactions with others, or your opinions, all are integral to your overall brand. Just like prime corporate brands, you can demand a premium price based on your brand value. With visibility, come clients, speaking engagements, business opportunities, life opportunities, great people, and the chance to make a difference in the world.
Create a great brand – and brand value – and people want to work with you and for you, share ideas and resources, and support you in achieving your goals. The network you develop as a result of your brand can protect you from today’s uncertainties and enable you to grow your business – and yourself. Branding also gives you a great boost of confidence and purpose – and embeds other people’s confidence in you.
Profile and branding means success!
What is your personal brand statement?
- Is your brand consistent across communication channels and social media networks?
- What do you need to do to complete your Personal Branding Toolkit?
- How can you maintain the promotion of your brand?
- How can you use your Personal Brand to get you further, faster?