When we talk about brands, we usually think about business brands or corporate branding. You probably don't think much about your own branding. It's an unusual concept to some but whether you know it or not, you have your own personal branding no matter whether you're a business owner or just an average person looking for a job. And in this online era where people depend heavily on the internet to find information about people they're interacting with or doing business with, personal branding is more important than ever.
When you Google your name, what do you see? These results are what would help people form their first impression of you. Is it what you want them to see? Is it what you're sharing across Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media profiles?
Whether you have a job interview or a date, chances are, someone is going to Google you to learn more about you before meeting or seeing you in real life. The question is, do you want your brand to simply take a life of its own, or do you want to control and own your narrative?
What is Personal Branding?
In terms of what is a brand, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is quoted saying, "Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Traditionally, the term "branding" has been used solely for business but now that social sites and the gig economy have grown more than ever, personal branding has been born and has become essential.
Your personal brand is how you promote yourself to the world. It's the unique combination of personality, skills, and experience that you want the world to see. It's how you tell your story and how it reflects aspects of your personal life including your conduct, attitudes, behavior, and spoken and unspoken words.
Professionally, your personal brand is the image people see when they think of you. It can be a combination of how they see you in real life, what the media is saying about you, and what information you make available online.
Done right, your personal branding efforts will differentiate you from your competition and enable you to build trust with prospective employers or clients.
Importance of Personal Branding
Whether you're an employee or a business owner, cultivating a personal brand has become vital in today's times. One reason for this is that it's becoming more common for employers to use social media in the hiring process. According to a survey in 2018, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates and 40% use it to check on their current employees.
On the other hand, it's also beneficial for employers to have their employees create their own personal brands. When employees represent their companies, they're not only developing themselves and their brand but also giving more exposure to the company. When a company's employees are also viewed as trustworthy leaders in a field, they can help retain and get more customers.
Similarly, business owners building their own personal brands also does wonders for their companies. Steve Jobs, for instance, used personal branding to establish himself as the face of Apple before it was even a thing. Similarly, Elon Musk did the same thing and even has a more popular brand than Tesla's brand.
How to build a personal brand
If you haven't tried working with your personal brand before, it can be frustrating to know where to start. Here are some steps you can follow to get you started.
1. Get To Know Yourself
Before you can create a personal branding model or a personal branding campaign, you have to know yourself first. Think about your strengths, what you like doing, your most important qualities, and what makes you unique. Also, determine what you want to be known for.
Write all these down and see how you can turn them into a cohesive personal brand.
2. Define your audience and focus
In this part, you'll need to answer your "why." Answering that will help you define your audience and focus and create a strong foundation for your brand. This is also where you put everything together to create your personal brand statement that encapsulates your value, reflects your personality, and speaks to your target audience in their language.
3. Tell Your Story
Your brand statement is only the jumping point in your personal branding strategy where you tell your story. Even if you're not a great writer, write down your story in your voice first before working with a writer. You'll also want longer and shorter versions of it for various purposes like your website, social bios, press kits, or investor pitches.
4. Work On Your Online Presence
You can build your online presence by creating a website and publishing frequently. Also, work on becoming more active on social media. But don't forget that while a lot of business people think that it's all on social, it's really not. Spread out your personal branding activities across various channels.
5. Build Your Network
When you network, you get your name out there. You can network with people one-on-one or online. When you're starting out though, try to be helpful and not be the one asking for help right away. When you need help later down the line, that's when you call them up for assistance.
6. Keep It Up Offline
It's easy to build a brand online but you also need to maintain that brand in person. You don't need to let it take over your entire life, of course, but there has to be consistency. For instance, use the same vocabulary at events or keep the same composure you're portraying online. That's how people can get to know and recognize you more.
Your personal brand is an asset you can leverage at any point of your journey in business. That's why it's important that you make the most of it now.