Everyone has a personal brand, whether they are aware of it or not. Personal branding is about what makes you unique. It relates to how people see you, what you project to others and their perception of you. It is therefore extremely important to be in control of your personal brand rather than have others interpret it in a way you do not want.
A personal brand is much more than a job title: it’s a holistic look at your goals, passions and values and how they can be beneficial to an employer. It’s the individuals who truly know what makes them interesting and differentiated who stand out from their peers.
In a nutshell, your personal brand needs to communicate:
Creating a Personal Brand
You are a ‘product’ with features and benefits, certain skills and special talents that other people value. In creating your personal brand, ‘Me Inc.’ ideally you want to use those skills and talents that are highly valued by your “customer” and that you enjoy using.
The goal of personal branding is not about being someone you are not or being fake. It is not about exaggeration, bragging or egotism. It is simply to become the best ‘You’. It is about finding your own personal essence that, at the same time, is valued by others – both inside and outside the workplace.
Think about the following eight step process in order to create your personal brand.
1. Identify what you value
Your personal brand is a reflection of everything you value. Take time to think about the things you value in your life and list them. Make sure the values you identify are truly your own because you must believe in them and live by them every day. These values will become the foundation of your brand, as well as your personal mission statement.
2. Identify what makes ‘You’ unique
With your values as your foundation, determine your specific uniqueness. How are you different as an individual? How are you unique? Examining your values helps articulate the “what makes you different” part of your personal brand. Your values play a large role in differentiating you from your competition and provide a reason to choose you over your peers.
3. Identify how you want to be perceived
Branding is about other people’s perceptions of you. You have the power to control most of these perceptions with your actions and presentation. Obviously, not everyone has to like you and some may be jealous of you, but you can control most perceptions. Consider how you want to be perceived in the eyes of your family, peers and colleagues. Whether you like it or not, you already have a reputation with the people you know. You now need to decide if you like that brand and, if not, are you willing to make the commitment to do something about it?
4. Identify your specialty (what you do best)
How do your passions intersect with your skills? What are you great at? What abilities do you have that consistently impress other people?
5. Identify your target audience
What kind of people do you love working with? Do you prefer working with environmentally conscious people, small business owners, charities etc. Personal branding is all about becoming the best for a certain group of people. Who will those people be?
6. Write your brand
Now that you have all the elements from your brand, you need to write that statement. Your statement needs to encapsulate everything you want your brand to be. This will be your personal mission statement.
Examples of personal mission statements:
“I am a highly qualified, proven, results-driven executive who wants my legacy to include mentoring young talent.”
“I am a passionate, people-orientated leader with solid business acumen, a strong work ethic and integrity”
Once you have drafted a personal mission statement, define specific goals and objectives as they relate to your career development. In order to reach these goals, you need to create a measurable action plan to accomplish your goals/objectives.
7. Listen to Feedback
Once you’ve worked out your brand identity, you need to get input from those around you. Build your “board of directors” (i.e. mentors, peers, friends, family) to give you feedback on your brand. As branding is about communicating your identity, it is crucial that you know how it is being received in the minds of others.
8. Live your brand
Now that you have built your brand, it is time to incorporate it into all aspects of your career. Place your personal mission statement on your CV and other networking sites. You will need to continually evaluate and refine your brand, assessing which parts work and which need improvement, making adjustments as you go.