Personal branding: What it takes to build a brand around You
In the past few years the concept of personal branding has gained momentum as the job market has become more and more competitive.
But what does it mean to have a personal brand?
Essentially, it’s a way for people to know what you’re all about: your beliefs, your goals and your mission in the professional world.
Think of all the high-profile individuals we know that have succeeded with a personal brand. Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, Richard Branson; plenty of public figures and politicians. They have all stamped out an identity in the public realm – their personal brand – that enables others to have a level of understanding about the type of person they are.
But beyond the hype, branding yourself is an important consideration within a professional context. With the extensive reach of the internet and the boom of social media, it has vital for any professional with a presence on the internet and networking sites to mold and manage their personal brand.
Why is building your personal brand important?
Your personal brand is important because it's a representation of you that others see when they look for you online, as well as the image that you choose to show in public interactions.
Whether we are aware of it or not, all of our activities online – on Instagram, Facebook, Linked In or other social media platforms – form an online personal profile that is searchable. Interestingly, 81% of shoppers do their research online before buying a product or service, meaning your online presence has to be on point. And today, more than ever, people can find all they need to know about you by a quick Google search.
So actively creating a personal brand for yourself allows you to have a say in how you market yourself and gives you control in crafting an accurate picture of your identity, rather than it happening purely by default.
While social networking sites are predominately about engaging in a social environment, it’s wise to view them as platforms on which you can easily start building a personal brand.
How to build a personal brand
You need to build your personal brand in a way that is easily understood by anyone who comes across it. The words you use, the personality you portray and the actions you take; will form an identity people will quickly recognize you for.
Because you will ‘live and breathe’ your personal brand, it’s essential that your brand is genuine and an accurate depiction of who you are.
Follow these steps for building a personal brand:
1. Figure out what you’re passionate about
Your personal brand must align with, and reflect, your likes and interests. What is it that you want to do, and what attributes and qualities express your passion? For example: If you want to be a personal trainer, market yourself as someone with deep knowledge of best practices to get in shape and an ambition in your field of expertise.
2. Grow your social footprint
Try to be everywhere online. This means creating profiles on several (most popular social networking sites) Nailing down your copy on your LinkedIn profile to reflect how your interests, skills and ambitions can benefit others is essential. If you are active on Facebook and Instagram, make sure your profile and the information you share on those platforms is consistent with the overarching tone and message of your personal brand.
3. Make a plan for yourself
What are your goals with your personal brand? How can you leverage the power your personal brand will yield? The same way any commercial or corporate brand has a target goal you should create a planned road for yourself that supports your personal brand. Endorsements, online education, speaking events. So start making contacts, decisions and planning career moves that are in line with your brand.
4. Tell a story
One of the most effective ways to build a compelling personal brand is through narrative. It’s easy to state who you are and what you do professionally – but an average description of yourself is not going to cut through the noise and allow you to stand out from the pack.
What makes your story distinctive: what obstacles have you had to overcome to get to where you are today? Has your career taken any interesting twists or turns? How have your life experiences impacted your professional choices? The more interest you can add to your story, the more compelling your personal brand will be.
By creating a brand for yourself, you can gain a clearer idea of what you want to achieve and how you need to be perceived to get it, from there, market those attributes to your target audience.