You may not think of yourself as a brand, but whether you run your own business, are self-employed or work for someone else, how you present yourself is everything. From helping your career to launching a business, it’s up to you to build your personal brand.
Understand The Reasons Behind Your Brand
Today’s fast-paced working world highlights the importance of self-promotion, and we all want to be remembered for the right reasons. Very few people now have ‘jobs for life’, with an increasing number wanting portfolio careers, and that requires frequent job changes and a network of contacts. If you’re aiming for a promotion or dream of starting your own business, then talent alone might not be enough. A strong personal brand will put you in a great position before, during and after change to ensure things go your way. It will create trust within your industry and draw others to you as new opportunities become available. Understanding the benefits is a key, if obvious, first step to building your brand.
Identify Your Brand Values
Your values are indicators of what is deeply important to you, they’re the driving force behind the choices you make and how you live your life. An authentic brand will align with your core values, so you’ll firstly need to identify what it is that’s important to you and how to promote this within your career. For example, if ‘creativity’ is important, you need to find a way of expressing this – if, say, your job is more analytical than creative, you can still express this value in a variety of ways, from your presentation style to the way you dress. It’s the little touches that will ultimately build your brand values. Ideally, to be fulfilled in your career, your personal values need to be congruent with the culture in which you work. Those with a strong brand who are clear about their personal values can make intentional choices to work in compatible cultures.
Decide What Will Set You Apart
For a distinctive brand, focus on what makes you unique. It’s the combination of skills, hobbies, values, experiences, passions and the image you project that will set you apart. According to David Ogilvy, in his book Confessions of an Advertising Man, “it’s the total personality of the brand rather than any trivial product difference which decides its position in the market place”.
Know Your Audience
Be clear on your current and future audience and position your brand accordingly. Where will they see, hear and read about you? Being authentic means that you’re unlikely to appeal to everyone, but don’t be worried about alienating people, a strong brand will attract you to the right individuals.
Look, Behave And Sound The Part
There is nothing trivial about missing out on opportunities because your image is letting you down or you sound unsure of yourself – your voice accounts for 38% of the impression you make on people. Ask yourself how you want to sound…powerful, engaging, confident? Your appearance, personal style and how you behave should all project your brand values.
Create Brand Stories
Your brand stories are the anecdotes you share to tell others more about you. A strong brand story will speak to the feelings of your audience, creating an emotional rapport and trust. You needn’t memorise a list of anecdotes you must fit in at networking events, but be aware of the stories you are telling and how you are engaging with others.
Use Social Media
Social media is a quick and effective tool for building your personal brand – both its reputation and its reach. Blogging, YouTube and LinkedIn are all powerful channels for building your brand, but it is virtually impossible to be on every platform and do it well. Instead, choose a maximum of three channels that are ideal for reaching your current and future audience and where you can be consistent and present. Put some thought and planning into it, LinkedIn is the place for your professional brand, while Instagram and Pinterest allow the opportunity to present your brand values visually. Be mindful about how you engage with social media, and remember to blend your private and professional life with care and intention.
Do you want to put yourself out there? Take the 5 day personal brand challenge