When companies create a commercial brand, they are developing associations for their products and services that are easily recognizable to the public. For example, Burger King’s slogan Have It Your Way is not only a tagline, but also a brand. They are hoping that the public will associate their establishment with customization to the consumer’s needs. But what about personal brands? It is entirely possible for a professional to develop his or her own brand as a form of self promotion.
A personal brand should not necessarily be created through what you think of yourself, but more through how others see you. For example, you might think that you’re laid back, but if others perceive you as a control freak, your brand is lost in the wind. Instead, start paying attention to the comments and criticisms of others, and find a way to mold their opinions into your own personal brand.
What you also have to realize about personal branding is that it isn’t as public as a corporate or commercial brand. You aren’t going to start advertising your personal brand on billboards or on the pages of magazines. Instead, your personal brand is spread through word-of-mouth and through your own actions. Again, the way your colleagues and superiors perceive you will play a large part in the success of your personal brand. That said, it should be your goal to emanate the qualities of your personal brand in everything that you do.
The first step in the process of developing a personal brand should be to determine how you’re different. It is difference that sets us apart from all the other marketing reps, accountants, CEO’s and factory workers, and it is difference that will make your personal brand. You have to show people why you transcend the services of others in order to set yourself apart, which means performing an in-depth analysis not only of your work life but also your personality.
For example, let’s say that everyone is always complimenting you on your listening skills. Even when you’re typing on your computer or driving home from work, most of your attention is on others, and not only do you listen to what they have to say, but you also apply it at a later date. Believe me: Everyone is not a good listener; in fact, the majority of people aren’t. So this is the start of a personal brand you can promote.
But of course, determining your personal brand isn’t enough; you have to put yourself in a light where visibility is achieved. If no one sees you or your personal brand, you might as well not have made the effort, so you’ll have to showcase yourself in a highly visible venue in order to be recognized. How is this accomplished? Well, let’s take the example if the great listener. You might want to write a book about active listening and how it can be applied to one’s professional life. You could also take up public speaking or teaching; get your ideas heard and noticed. Establish yourself as THE expert on listening, and you’ll be the go-to guy for questions and concerns related to your personal brand.
You should also realize that making your personal brand visible isn’t enough. You also have to do it with style. There have been hundreds of professionals who have given speeches, written books and taught classes about listening — and just about every other talent and skill known to man. What you have to do is say it, right it or teach it in a way that no one else has heard before. Allow your audience to relate to this point by creating applicable scenarios that everyone experienced. There is something to be said for being a “People’s Person”; use it to your advantage.
And finally, you have to have a reason for creating a personal brand. What are your goals in your professional and personal life, and how can you promote those ideals through your brand? It isn’t enough for your goal to simply be visibility, you have to have other ideals. Look ahead into your personal and professional future and decide where you want to be in ten years. Then apply your personal brand to that end.