As marketers, we spend time building powerful brands for the firms we represent. But each of us, whether we realize it or not, has our own, personal brand. There are many benefits for developing a strong personal brand. Read on for reasons why you should develop your own brand, and how to do it.
What Is a Personal Brand?
Just as a corporate brand is more than a logo, your personal brand is much more than your name. A personal brand is what others can expect from their experience working with you. It is as much or more about their emotional response as it is about your physical attributes or work product.
How to Build your Personal Brand
Here are three top tips to developing a personal brand:
#1 Be Authentic
Understand your strengths and build on them. Don’t try and be something you’re not. Be sincere. Never position yourself as an expert in an area you do not know inside an out. Certainly, it’s important for us to have goals and aspirations, but if you can’t live up to those claims now, people will question your brand.
If people know you, they may think of you. If they like you, they will listen to you. But if they trust you, they will do business with you. Trust is a crucial component to brand building, both personally and on a corporate level. And authenticity is a necessary component to building trust.
To define your core strengths, interview friends, family, clients and coworkers. Ask them to describe you and describe what they especially know you for. Listen for adjectives when they respond, and record the conversations or take notes. After you have conducted a handful, look for similarities and words used repeatedly. Consider incorporating some of these words and phrases into your LinkedIn page and bio.
#2 Be Consistent
Frequency and repetition are essential to all branding. The more times we hear or see something, the more likely we are to remember it. There are three main areas where consistency is crucial: Messaging, Visuals, and Personal Style.
If you think messaging gets old fast, think again. Consider some famous taglines:
“Got milk?” has been used for 21 years, starting in 1993.
“Just do it.” (Nike) has been used for over 26 years, starting in 1988
“Breakfast of Champions” (Wheaties) has been used for over 87 years, starting in 1927
When you are posting to your social media sites, writing articles, blog posts, presentations, etc., think about your style of writing. Developing a consistent style or tone of voice can be extremely beneficial in creating a memorable brand. JetBlue has done an amazing job writing in a consistently quirky, funny, quippy style. Their advertising is instantly recognizable because of this. Similarly, prominent authors and bloggers are memorable because of their writing style.
When creating content, consider the visuals you choose carefully. Try to select images that are similar in style, and use them repeatedly. For example, if you regularly give presentations, you may want to find a series of graphic illustrations rather than mixing in photography (or vice versa). Use the same templates, fonts and colors for all your presentations. Certainly, if you work for a firm that has an established brand, and you are writing or speaking on behalf of that firm, always adhere to and leverage your firm’s brand standards.
Personal style — the way you speak, mannerisms, even your choice of wardrobe — can factor into your brand memorability. Steve Jobs is known for wearing the exact same black turtleneck and blue jeans for his entire professional career. Although that’s definitely extreme, he is an example of how powerful a personal brand can be.
#3 Be Distinctive
You don’t have to be different (or “weird”) to differentiate. There are many ways to be distinctive and to build memorability:
Emphasize your areas of expertise. If you have achieved professional success in any way, or solved a particular problem, no matter how specific, write about it. Try and obtain speaking opportunities.
If you have industry expertise, leverage that to differentiate yourself. Submit articles and speaking topics to trade publications, social media groups, blogs and conferences in that industry area.
Finally, don’t forget to use hobbies and personal areas of interest to help build your brand. If you sing in a choir, or bake amazing cupcakes, or ballroom dance competitively, people are much more likely to remember that about you. If you are passionate about a cause or give your time to the community in any way, let people know.
Brands Take Time
Personal branding, like corporate branding, takes time. You can’t build your brand overnight. But by following these three steps, within a few years you will see your own brand gain awareness and build traction.
Vanessa’s article first appeared in SMPS Boston’s Outlook, Dece .