Discussions on branding have been around for decades and decades, but it has recently resurfaced in the mainstream media. Today, there’s a lot of focus on personal branding, even in large corporations. Companies that invest heavily in their biggest asset – their employees – live and breathe by “the brand” and teach their employees to create and depict their own personal brands. For the self-employed and solo-preneurs, it’s an absolute necessity.
Why Focus on a Personal Brand?
In a 1997 article in FastCompany titled, “The Brand Called You,” writer Tom Peters stated, “It’s time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.”
What Peters wrote then is just as important today.
The funny thing about personal branding is that you have a brand, whether you think about it or not. It makes more sense for you to focus on branding yourself, than to let someone else brand you.
The Personal Brand Simplified
What I don’t like about the article I referenced above is that it focuses too heavily on being “different.” Branding has gotten totally confused with unique selling proposition. For branding, you don’t need to focus on what you do differently, per se. That’s not branding. Branding assumes uniqueness. Branding is first and foremost about identification. Think back to cattle branding – that’s where the term comes from.
We’re not cattle though, and, well, symbols have their limitations, so when it comes to personal branding, you’ll need to think more like a corporation does. Corporations come up with brand identities to bring together sales and marketing, planning, management, public relations under a central theme that forms the missions, goals, and values.
A brand should be recognizable. It should be positive. It should be reflective of culture and style.
How to start defining yours:
Simply ask yourself how you want people to think about you. What words do you hope they use? Choose four or five attributes to define your personal brand.
For me, it would be something like:
These attributes are how I feel about myself personally, and they describe how I want to come across in my work as well as in life outside of work. I can use these attributes to determine whether my resume communicates what I would like it to, as well as to develop social media bios, and also to help steer me in the direction I would like to go in my career.
Although there is much more involved with branding, start here, because once you come up with the characteristics, you can flesh them out into 30-second statements each, further describing what your personal brand is. You can then use the attributes and their describes to come up with brand values – the principles you live and work by.
Have you gotten started? Have you ever thought about the words people might use to describe you, and whether or not those words reflect what you’d like your personal brand to be?
Image: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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