Personal Branding: Put your name on it
"Personal Branding" is the process of building a personal reputation and making yourself more visible to clients and employers.
We are all unique. We all have a story, experiences, skill sets and perceptions that make and mould us into who we are. For those individuals who choose to market their professional endeavours under their name, there are many things to consider. Most notably, reputation, credibility, and authenticity are intertwined yet stand as brand pillars on their own.
On the other hand, companies and businesses who adopt a brand name, logo or tagline as part of their marketing efforts do so for many reasons. Some are temporary (e.g., campaigns), while others stick around for years, even decades. Whatever the goals and ambitions of an organization may be, names and identities need to convey what
Consistency is the key to credibility. You must walk the walk and talk the talk. Follow through with action. Show up. Make sure the quality of your brand matches your offering. Authenticity is often felt, not read or seen.
People know genuine when they see it. Please pay attention to the way you tell it and engage with them.
Do you speak from a place of knowing or wanting? That is an essential point of human interaction which indicates authenticity. Experience brings learning, and desperation brings wanting.
Differentiating yourself from others in a sea of professionals can seem daunting. Personal branding leaves a positive and lasting impression of your identity on those you meet.
It is the balance between working yourself and letting your brand speak for you. Both should reflect the same individual, and both should be consistent with what you say. Have you ever heard the phrase, 'under promise and over deliver'? This adage remains true always, not just when you are starting. Put credibility in your work and build your reputation.
Communicate who you are and what you do precisely and effectively. If you can’t explain what you do in 10 words or less, you have some work to do. If you struggle to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, ask others for their opinions. Get an outside perspective on who you are.
A brand can guide many things that you do in the business world, such as naming yourself, choosing a colour scheme and logo design, and even future career choices.
Your brand should be just as clean and straightforward as your pitch and representative of who you are and what you do. Strength comes in knowing who you are and what you stand for - this is the authenticity people will feel. If you are unsure about yourself or your work - that will come through your brand and message. Ask yourself these three things: what is the first impression I want people to have of me? What kind of lasting impact or imprint do I want to leave in my interactions with others? How do I want others to explain or express who I am and what I do to others?
If you need some inspiration, look towards individuals whose brands you are attracted to and who draw you in.
Know Your Market
When considering your brand, a significant aspect is your audience and essentially who you are marketing to! What makes you relevant today - why should anyone choose you over your competitors? Figuring out exactly who you are targeting will help smooth out any lasting bumps in your messaging. If your brand is authentic to who you are and what you want to achieve, you will attract the right people - but knowing where your potential clients are and how they will find you is essential. Experience your brand through the eyes of your customers, and before you launch - find some brand experts who can give you honest feedback about their experiences or perceptions of you, your message and your overall brand. Don’t be scared to leverage your network. Those are the individuals who know you best and can speak to your credibility and authenticity as the reputation of your brand builds.
As you grow and evolve in your professional capacity, this should reflect your branding. For example, have you ever seen a Real Estate agent’s picture on a billboard and then you meet them in person, and you can tell the person they are marketing is 15 years younger than who they are at that moment? That is a disconnect and, however harmless, still leaves a negative lasting impression on potential clients and customers. Embrace your evolution (and years of service) in your work and actively communicate that to your audience - it only adds credibility.
Last but not least - follow your gut instincts when it comes to the launch and evolution of your brand. Like many entrepreneurs, you can not hide behind a company brand. The mistakes you make in your business will be tied to you personally. While this does not mean cosmic disaster, it does require being extra cautious to ensure your business activities are always in alignment with your personal and professional values.