Branding takes place on at least three levels. First, we are all familiar with company brands; Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, etc. Then we also brand our product or service. The “iPhone” is a strong product brand. But we also brand ourselves – this is called a personal brand.
What is a Personal Brand?
Every one of us has a personal brand! Simply put, your personal brand is what other people say about you. Think for a moment – what adjectives do your clients or employer use to describe you? Consistent? Punctual? Self-motivated? Reliable? Strong on follow through? That’s your personal brand! Of course, the negative side is true too! Unreliable? Inconsistent? Doesn’t keep your promise? Unfortunately, these can become your brand as well.
Recently I spoke for the Katy Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals group about this subject. Unfortunately, I run into many young professionals building the wrong brand type. They don’t realize that some of their actions are sticking with them. I strongly urged them to guard and build their personal brand intentionally. Here is what I shared with them.
3 Ways to Develop Your Personal Brand
- Discover your brand. Open yourself up to feedback and take an honest assessment of what others in the business community say about you and your service. This is often difficult because many people will not be honest with us in fear of hurting or offending us. It is also difficult for us to put ourselves out there for some feedback because, well, it hurts and offends us sometimes! However, you might find that this encourages you too, so take the risk! Also, make an honest assessment of your strengths. There are some things that you do better than most other people. Capitalize on your strengths and let them be a key part of your personal brand. Next, examine your mindset! Your self-impression will determine (to a large degree) how others perceive you! By taking some time for honest feedback and reflection, you will discover your unique attributes and gain insight into the next step:
- Create your brand. As you gain an increasing measure of self-awareness, you can begin to craft what you want your personal brand to be. I like to think of this as my “brand values.” For me, the values I aspire to include: Knowledgeable (i.e. life-long learner,) Genuine care for my clients, Integrity, and Results. So define what you want your personal brand to be and start measuring everything by those brand values!
- Communicate your brand. It’s not enough to just define it. You must also develop and implement a strategy for promoting and communicating your brand. This can be done in a hundred different ways – for example, you can use simple things like business cards and letters or you can create portfolios and online reviews, just to mention a few. I strongly recommend that you use a website, a blog, and social media. I think one of the best online tool for building your personal brand is LinkedIn.
Your personal brand is probably more important than anything else in branding, especially for small business. Don’t take it for granted. But realize that you don’t have to spend a lot of money. You just have to be clear and consistent.