Let’s Talk Personal Branding and Why Everyone Should Have One
Let’s talk about the things that a personal brand is does not make. A personal brand is not a logo. It has absolutely nothing to do with your long list of credentials listed on your fancy resume, it doesn’t respect your degree or degrees, and your title means nothing.
In fact, contrary to popular belief your personal brand has very little to do with any of the above-mentioned. While it is true that all of these elements can add an extra boost to your credibility, these are merely what I like to call “added spices” to an already perfected recipe to help create a unique distinction from the others.
In simpler terms, a personal brand is a reflection of who you are and a representation of your personal beliefs and/or system of values that is reinforced by your personal value statement similar to that of a mission statement. It describes the value your service, skill, talent or trade brings to the world and/or your chosen industry.
A personal brand can be the answer to a problem. Think about it. Do you have skill that could help solve a problem? Are you a good teacher? Communicator? Writer? Can you provide a service that the general public would be interested in using?
Grab a piece of paper and make a list of all of your hobbies, interests, and skills. Pick the top 5 that peak your immediate interest and figure out which ones you could see yourself doing. Then create a mock personal value statement with using the hobbies or skills your selected to see how it sounds to you. For example:
“(Your name) is a (selected title) who specializes in (add what you do or can provide) for (your target audience and/or demographic) who want to (describe what they want to do)."
Pro-Tip: When writing personal statements specific to those who are providing a service that deals directly with coaching or counseling clients (career coach, brand coach, etc.) to use to help guide and assist clients in figuring out what it is they want to do, the rule says to always write in the third person even if you are the one writing it. I don’t know why, don’t ask, just do it. Okay? Great.
Despite what others may tell you or claim there is no original idea under the sun. Let me repeat that for the ones in the back of the room. There is absolutely no idea that is completely, 100% original. Every thought and idea is formed from the inspiration of one thing before. We are inspired daily by the things that we experience and come into contact with. It’s natural. The trick is taking that inspiration and creating something new by adding your own twist and personality to it. Hence, the need for a personal brand.
Do I really need a personal brand?
Whether you strategically plan out your brand and execute the plan or just leave it up in the air to shape itself, personal branding is unavoidable. Any person looking to build a name for themselves or around a brand or business in 2018 should have a personal brand, especially if you are seeking more visibility and creditability for your business or organization. Consider it the “calling card” of the new millennium. At the core of it all you are your brand and whether you realize it or not every interaction you have, every new person you meet and every post on social media you make is shaping your personal brand.
We live in a world where stars are being created via Instagram and Facebook every day but I would estimate that a good 90% of these individual won’t make it past the end of summer. I like to call these “The Accidentals”. Brands created through sheer luck and mishap but due to the lack of structure and strategic planning, these personalities and brands will eventually fade out only to be replaced by the next big thing. We strive for longevity around here.
So, who should have a personal brand?
Any person in business or looking to create a product, service or offer a skill to the general public should have a personal brand. The list of professions are endless. Some examples of individuals creating brands are:
Boutique/Retail Store owners
Why do I need to build a personal brand?
Your brand is what people say about you when they think you aren’t listening.
It’s really simple. A personal brand gives you power and stature in an already competitive and over saturated marketplace. While there is no guarantee that having a personal brand will put you in the exact place you want to be, it allows you to place yourself in a position of expertise, gives you the opportunity to display your knowledge and experience that will, if executed properly, draw opportunities for your career or business.
Fun Fact: People are naturally attracted to businesses, brands and individuals who are confident, know who they are, what they represent or offer and translate those visions and themselves to others with purpose and clarity. People want to feel connected and involved with a brand or business and by having a personal brand you are becoming more accessible and personable you are giving your audience a face and personality to connect with.
People trust faces, not logos.
How do I go about creating a personal brand?
There is no single surefire way to get this done. Really, it’s a trial and error kind of thing. What may work for one person may turn out to be a disaster for others. For example, Perez Hilton (a very popular pop culture and entertainment blogger) built his brand on being the snarliest and sometimes downright nastiest entertainment blogger on the net. His method of “dragging” celebrities and drawing cute little penis pictures on their faces worked for him. This method might not work for you, in fact, it may result in your being forced into hiding for the rest of your life. He was able to make it work for him and what he wanted to do. I wouldn’t suggest trying it, unless you are ready for all that comes with it.
When trying to figure out the what and whys of your personal brand there are a few methods you can try to generate ideas. First ask yourself this:
What do you do, can you do, or offer that remarkable and distinguished value to the audience that you want to cater to?
Block out about 30 minutes to really dig deep to answer this question. Write down whatever comes to mind, no edits, don’t think about it…just write. You can go over it later and make revisions.
Second, you can grab a piece of paper and divide it into four (4) sections:
Write as many words and descriptions related to your brands vision as possible. Remember, your personal value statement should address and answer for simple questions:
1. What makes you and/or your business different?
2. What sets you apart from your competitors?
3. Who or what audience are you targeting?
4. Why do you perform the work/services you do?
EVERY one is doing the same thing. I remember when I first took an interest in PR and Brand Creation, there were very few people actually actively pursuing the career field. Even though I had hands on experience, I wanted to back up my experience with a degree. When I finally got ready to start my own Public Relations and Brand Consultancy firm I was shocked at how many people were now “PR” agents, publicist and consultants. You can log on to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and see hundreds of results pop up for people now wanting to do PR. Just last summer, the hot career choice was being a boutique owner but I digress….
The point is, there are thousands upon thousands of individuals operating within one marketplace which makes it extremely hard to shine as a business and even that much harder for a client to make a decision on who to work with.
So, how do you stand out in a room full of the same styled dress?
Your brand story. This is the key that will unlock so many doors that would otherwise be locked. Creating a signature story, the reason behind what you do or who you are can help you stand out because -well- its your story. NOBODY else has it. Nobody else has lived it. It’s the one thing that really does belong to you in this world. Use it. The public - potential clients, co-workers, and bosses - want to hear what you have to say. They want to connect with you and understand who you are. What better way to draw them in?!
The best kind of story is a personal one. One that is based on your experiences, your struggle and told from your point of view. Pulling from personal experiences allows you to share information and insights that will intrigue your audience and bring the story to life.
Securing your persona piece of online real estate in the form of your name is arguably the first thing you should do when creating personal brand. Make sure you own your name and identity on the internet. This is crucial to building a brand. I made the mistake of not securing my “real name” as a domain when I first started. I wanted to be everything BUT who I was so I spent hundreds of dollars creating different identities trying to find one that fits. Now that I am settled in my career and have a firm understanding of what it is that I want to do, it would make sense to use my name as a domain name. Right? Of course, problem is that now every variation of my name as a domain has been occupied. So, I am stuck.
Don’t make the mistake I made. Get it in early. Even if you have no immediate intentions for its use. Snag it. Grab it. Hold it.