4 steps to building your personal brand
When we talk about brands we often tend to think about companies. Apple, Google, Coca Cola, Microsoft are some of the biggest names out there, but what about your personal brand?
Many are quick to dismiss this notion, believing that personal branding is something relevant only to celebrities. In an age, however, where our digital activity can create a personal footprint before we even open our mouth, personal branding is today’s reality, though not many of us might have consciously cultivated it.
Personal branding is the process by which we market ourselves to others. Make no mistake; personal branding is not about self-promotion, and it’s not a ‘me, me, me!’ strategy. It’s about how you add value in order to stand out of the crowd without the use of irritating chest-pounding techniques.
Here are some ideas to think about.
Think of yourself as a brand
Think of a corporate brand: how would you feel if you saw a Google or Apple commercial that told you how great these brands are? Maybe that would be ok for the first time, but it would quickly become irritating. The reason we tend to like these brands is because we perceive them as continuously try to make our life easier through innovation and technology.
So what message are you sending to your audience? How do you come across when you are talking about yourself?
Ask yourself what it is like having a relationship with you, whether personal or professional. Then ask a friend and a colleague the same question. Are your answers similar? If they are not, you may not be coming across as you would have liked to. Spend the time to consider why there is this disconnect. Ask yourself what it is you want people to think when they hear your name.
Audit your social media
Once you have identified how you want to be perceived by others, it is time to start working on your personal brand. Your toolkit - i.e. your business cards, resume and social media channels - needs to support the brand, not contradict it.
Remember that when we first meet a person, we rarely have all the information we need to make an informed decision about his/her character and decide whether we like them or not. As a result, our brain is using the images available to fill in the blanks and form a complete picture. And that is why first impressions are formed so quickly and are so hard to change.
These visual perceptions are not only based on what we see in front of us but are largely formed by the digital information we gather about a person.
Your entire online presence contributes to the personal image you are building. Have a look at your Facebook account and re-evaluate your pictures; if the majority of them are from your weekly brunch and from nights out with friends then consider the perception you may be creating about yourself.
What do your tweets ‘sound’ like? Does the tone and the content of your message support the image you want others to have of you?
Some people prefer Pepsi, some others Coca Cola. To a non-soda drinker, they are both soft drinks and either would do. To those who like soda though, these are two very distinct brands and those serious about soda refuse to switch between the two. Consider for a moment the “Pepsi paradox”: the fact that Pepsi consistently beats Coke in blind taste tests, however people prefer Coke over Pepsi when they know what they are drinking.
Have you ever thought why this happen? It’s all down to branding. Coke portrays soda drinking as a shared experience that is meant to remind you of family, friends and good times and this is how it differentiates itself from Pepsi. How do you differentiate yourself?
Before you even start communicating with others, you need to be crystal clear about your brand and how you differentiate yourself from others or add value. That doesn’t mean that your communication needs to be staged. People who get personal branding wrong are so on the message that they leave you wondering who you are really dealing with.
On the contrary, personal branding is all about being authentic, knowing what your strengths are, what you really believe, what you stand for and being able to pass this message across to your audience.
All things being equal, people will still want to deal with those they like and trust. If you appear to be faking it, it is unlikely that you will build lasting relationships with others, either at a personal or professional level.
Associate with other strong brands
We all eventually become a product of the people who surround us. Surrounding yourself with the right people does not only affect the way you feel, but it also influences your personal brand.
If you want to be perceived as an innovator, surround yourself with people with the same dreams, with those who start their own businesses, with entrepreneurs, with achievers, with thinkers who want to make a mark on life the same way as you do.
Associating yourself with individuals who are on a similar journey not only allows you to grow as a person, but also strengthens your personal brand. Consider the groups you join: do they support you and empower you to achieve your goals or do they drain your energy?
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Sophia Fromell is the Founder of Ithaca Life and is a certified Life Coach with a degree in Life Coaching Skills and Practice from Newcastle College, UK and a member of The International Coach Federation (ICF). The views expressed in her columns do not necessarily reflect those of Esquire or Hearst International