Successful multinational corporations spend vast amounts of money each year on their branding.
We’ve all seen the marketing and branding material for the likes of Apple, Google, Nike, Chanel etc.
They are happy to budget this massive spend because branding is what makes them stand out from the rest of the competition.
From a career point of view, we also need to make our personal branding a priority, to ensure that we are getting our heads above the crowd.
If we are in the market for a new job this is even more important in the current job market, as competition is fierce.
It doesn’t matter where in the world that you are, this is relevant to everyone.
Personal branding is a current buzz word and the reason for this post is to highlight exactly what personal branding is and how we can all get started in building our presence.
What is “personal branding”?
Collins dictionary defines branding as:
1. a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product
2. a trade name or trademark
1. a particular kind or variety
So by association, we can say that personal branding can be defined as :
1. a particular person or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular person
2. a person’s name or person’s trademark
3. a particular kind (or variety) of person
So what does this mean and how is it relevant to me?
All 3 points above relate to “unique identifiers”. By that, I mean characteristics and approaches that set you apart from the others.
We live in an information age and are bombarded, at all times of day, with new information from millions of different sources.
To separate your information (personal brand) from the general “noise” out there you need to highlight these unique identifiers in a way that is relevant to your ideal outcome. If you are looking for a new job, you need to showcase the skills and experience that you have which are “relevant” to the role that you are looking for.
If you are marketing, then you need to highlight the information that is “relevant” to the audience that you are looking to engage.
When a customer buys a particular item there are 4 requirements that need to be met before they part with their hard earned cash. All will carry a different level of importance (depending upon what the product is), but are:
· Quality – Is at a quality product? Am I getting “value for money”?
· Purpose – Is it fit for purpose? Will it do what I need it to?
· Features – Does it do everything that I need it to? Does it have any “extras” that might be useful?
· Reliability – Will it be reliable? Can I trust it to do what I need it to, consistently?
All of these points make a product “relevant” to a specific purpose. If you think of yourself as the product, it may make things a little clearer.
How do I do that?
You may have noticed that I’ve highlighted the word “relevant” above. This is a key point in personal branding.
For it to be truly effective, you need to ensure that your own brand is geared towards a specific outcome. You can’t generalise and be unique at the same time! This is a fairly straight forward thing to do though.
By covering the following 2 topics, you’ll be able to build a plan of action for your own personal brand, which makes you “relevant” to your desired outcome:
What makes you different?
What are your objectives / What is your ultimate goal?
Your current objectives may be slightly different from your future ones. Make a note of your immediate needs and also your future plans. It’s easier to factor this all in early on, rather than trying to change your brand further down the line. Your brand doesn’t have to be set in stone, but at least you’ll have a defined approach whilst your starting off.
Your assets – what can you offer that makes you stand out?
Everyone has different experiences through life so, without a doubt, you have unique experiences and skills which will make you stand out.
What skills do you have? What experiences do you have that will set you apart? What are your own personal achievements? Make a note of them all because you can make each of these a unique selling point for you and your personal brand!
Think of all the reasons why you would choose YOU. On which traits would you recommend yourself to someone? Are you trustworthy, punctual, polite, honest, genuine………….?
By building up a picture of what makes you different and unique, you’ll be setting a very strong foundation to your brand.
Be honest and genuine and above all else, be yourself!
What/ who is my chosen audience?
You can’t please everyone all of the time, so you’ll need to get to know your chosen audience intimately. By addressing exactly who it is that your marketing to, you can create a successful laser targetted brand.
What are your audience’s likes and dislikes? What are their goals? What do they do? What do they require?
By finding out the answers to these questions and adapting your brand, you can ensure that you exactly match their needs. This will make you the perfect solution for them.
How do you want to come across to your chosen audience?
As soon as you know who your audience is, you can then decide how you want them to see you. This needs to be honest & genuine, whilst also taking their requirements into account. How will you solve their demands in a way that matches your own principles and values?
One word of warning though, you need to be yourself. Don’t come up with alter-egos! You need to show your audience the real you, the one that would want to be known for.
You now know what sets you apart from the rest of the market place (unique identifiers) and also who you’re going to be trying to appeal to (audience).
This is where the hard work comes in! You need to start the process of building the brand that is YOU!
There are hundreds, if not thousands of channels that you can use for personal brand building. The more popular routes are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blog/forum posts.
No matter which channel/channels you use, you need to approach your branding on these in the same way.
You’ve done a lot of work so far in addressing your approach and unique offering, so now isn’t the time to let it slide!
You need to use the correct language and vocabulary to ensure that you’re “fishing in the right pool”! If you’re looking to appeal to an audience in finance don’t use language that would appeal to construction….you get the idea!
What keywords are relevant to your chosen audience? What vocabulary is relevant ? What tone should I use?
Don’t forget that everything you send out will affect your brand, so ensure that you are always bearing this in mind!
Also, remember the following points when building your brand, it’s the MAP to your success!
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