Discover the Power of Personal Branding
Updated: Jun 18, 2019
When you think of a brand, what comes to mind? Is it McDonald's? Apple? Ferrari? The world's most well-known businesses are typically the ones that first come to mind. How about a personal brand. Who do you think of? Oprah Winfrey? Elon Musk? Bill Gates? While these people are highly successful, it's not their success that grants them the title of being a personal brand. The truth is, everyone has a personal brand. It's important to understand what a brand is to apply it to the idea of a personal brand.
What's a brand?
As a more traditional, surface level definition, Wikipedia briefly describes a brand as "...a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer." This definition is fine, but only on the surface level. Going deeper, a brand is an impression, a perception, and a reputation. This impression, perception, and ultimate reputation can be helped or hindered by deliberate and consistent branding - the efforts of building a brand. For example, branding includes, but is not limited to customer experience, a brand's promise, price points, category positioning, affiliations, design, and the core product or service itself. To further understand what a personal brand is, you can apply the definition of a brand to yourself.
What's a personal brand?
If a brand is "...a name...design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals...", you can look at yourself from the same perspective. To start, you have a name - your verbal identifier. Your design (visual identifier) can be thought of as how you dress, groom, and present yourself visually. Finally, your symbol can be thought of as your face; the most memorable, recognizable, unique, and symbolic representation of yourself.
Part of a brand's goal is to create a lasting, memorable impression on consumers in an effort to create a meaningful relationship; ultimately creating loyal customers. As a person, you are just as much a brand as any big business is. The way you walk, talk, and carry yourself all play a role in how people remember you—or more specifically—your brand. Everything you put online—every tweet, retweet, status update, picture, share, and comment—all contribute to establishing the image and reputation of your personal brand.
Ultimately, the sum total of everything you do and don't do affects the impression you make on others, the way you're perceived, and the inevitable reputation you gain.
"A Brand Called You"
While humans are highly visual creatures, it's not just what you look like on the outside that defines your personal brand. Your outward appearance is simply what helps people to identify and remember you visually. To further create and establish your personal brand, your actions, values, and beliefs are to be highly considered. Tom Peters illustrates what a personal brand is in his article, "A Brand Called You":
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
While many people are raised not to judge others, the fact of the matter is: humans constantly judge others, both positively and negatively. This is something that cannot be avoided; judging others is human nature; a survival mechanism. Therefore, you're going to be judged by others and people will remember you based on how you present yourself and behave; wherever you go and with whomever you interact with.
While the idea that you're constantly being judged by others may seem daunting, it's something that can actually be embraced. If you want your personal brand to be seen as dependable, hard-working, and caring, you must instill these brand qualities in the minds of others to be perceived as dependable, hard-working, and caring. How? Actions speak louder than words.
Just as big businesses have invested lots of time and money into their brands, you can too. If you want to be associated with public speaking, consider joining a Toastmasters club. If you want to be associated with compassion, perhaps donate to charity.
Why is building a personal brand important?
The fact of the matter is, people "judge books by their covers". If you've invested the time into building your personal brand, what you think of yourself and what others think of you should be ideally be similar, and hopefully both are positive.
Another consideration: people talk, and people talk about other people. It's not so much about what you say about yourself—since it's biased—but it's more important what they say. Intentionally building a strong reputation can earn a positive position in the minds of others.
A practical instance: during a job interview, an employer will make assumptions based on how you present yourself and anything they've heard about you from others or your resume. Building a strong personal brand can highly influence what others say about you, which helps to strengthen your overall reputation; on a personal and professional level.
The best case scenario is that your reputation precedes you. ▲