How to craft your personal brand
CMA (Dr.) S K Gupta, Managing Director & CEO
Insolvency Professional Agency of Institute of Cost Accountants of India
E – mail : [email protected]
Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Your personal brand is the sum total of what you do, how you do it and why you do it. It’s not something you can fake. It’s authentic and deep-seated. don’t make the mistake of thinking your personal brand is all about you. It’s not. Your personal brand is not about your work experience or your personal accomplishments. Your personal brand should be about other people, specifically what you can do for other people
PERSONAL BRAND = EVERYTHING THAT YOU ARE + EVERYTHING PEOPLE BELIEVE YOU TO BE.
A personal brand isn’t a logo or a color scheme or a fancy font–those things can be an important part of your brand identity, but they’re definitely not the entirety of your personal brand. The rise of branding on a personal level has been more recent. For a long time, personal branding was better left to athletes, models, and Hollywood celebrities. Today, personal branding is a key to succeeding in many different parts of life.
Although the term “brand” is often associated with business, the two are different. A brand is something you’re constantly building because it’s the affirmation of who you are and what you love to do. Whether you’re a full-time employee, independent freelancer or business owner, your personal brand speaks before you. Being intentional about what you want it to stand for shapes the opportunities you attract.
A brand is anything—a symbol, design, name, sound, reputation, emotion, employees, tone, and much more—that separates one thing from another. Branding on a business-level is common, but today branding is becoming just as important on a personal level
Personal branding is the process of developing a “mark” that is created around your name or your career. You use this “mark” to express and communicate your skills, personality, and values. Your personal brand should be about who you are and what you have to offer.
How to build your personal brand
When people say, “I want to build a personal brand,” the first thing they think about is numbers. Number of Twitter followers. Number of Facebook Likes. Number of blog subscribers. Those are very poor metrics for building a meaningful personal brand. Building a personal brand means providing so much value in one (or multiple) niche(s) that people begin to associate your name with the idea of what it means to be successful in that industry, venture or profession
To effectively present and communicate your brand to others, you need to be clear about the meaning of your achievements and who you are. Answering the following questions will help you do this:
- Who am I?
- Why do people enjoy working or associating with me?
- What are my personality features? Am I charismatic? Compassionate? Innovative? Patient?
- What are my personal values, and how do they impact my behavior?
- What am I passionate about?
- What are my skills, strengths or weaknesses?
- What experiences have I had that separate me from others? If you need help with this consider talking to a career advisor who may be able to help you determine these.
- What is my specialty? What makes me unique? What do I do that others don’t and what do people want me to do for them?
Identify your uniqueness and strengths : Businesses create vision and mission statements. Creating a personal brand begins much the same way by creating a personal vision.
Think about the characteristics and strengths you’ve built in your career. If you are stuck, think about that “one thing” that everyone says you rock at. If you’re still stuck, ask others.
Be Yourself : Find your own style and create a new set of footprints for others to follow in. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing and just follow the crowd
Craft your personal brand persona : It will help in creating your brand. Your persona can be created by:
- Identifying your emotional appeal. What are your personality features? This can be as easy as saying you have a crazy sense of humor or that you are obsessively organized. Take a few moments, why do you think people are attracted to the brand of you?
- Describing yourself. When it comes to your brand who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
- Identifying your specialty. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them?
Craft Your Personal Brand Statement : Once you’ve taken a long, hard look at yourself and your history, think about how you can package it into a handful of lines.
This is your personal brand statement or elevator pitch—it’s something you can say when others ask you about yourself, or include in your profiles online.
Don’t try to be unique. Just be you-nique
Your personal brand statement consists of 3 key elements:
- Your target audience: The specific market or people that you serve.
- The value you offer: How you help your target market.
- What makes you unique: Why people choose you over the competition.
Understand your value : Your value isn’t based on who you work for or your position at a job. It’s based on what you’re able to bring to the table. What is it that you do extremely well and who does it best serve? If you aren’t specific about the kind of work you do or would like to do, people won’t know to come to you for it. Create a value proposition that speaks to what you do and who you best help.
Deliver on your value consistently and get testimonials : Don’t be the only one talking about your value. Have other people do it too. You do this by consistently delivering, and going above and beyond in all the contracts you have. This is ultimately how you can build a loyal network of brand ambassadors and get people to refer you organically. Do what you do so well that other people start raving about you.
Understand how much your value is worth : Most people tend to estimate their pricing based on how much they’d like to make. So they usually end up shortchanging themselves because their work brings a lot more value to an employer or client than they’re charging for. In order to properly position yourself, you have to know what problems the company is facing and how you are a part of the solution. What does a company stand to lose without having you? That is where your value lies.
Show rather than tell : The more you understand your value, the easier it becomes to articulate and do it. Create a platform where people can see what you do. Don’t hesitate to promote your accomplishments as they give you credibility. People can’t connect with you if they don’t know where they find you. Having a platform opens the door to more opportunities.
Create an Online Presence : A well-established brand also needs a well-established online presence not just in social media, but also on their own professional website. Once you have a significant following on social media it’s time to build your website.Your website should be the ultimate value add to readers. You attract their attention on social media, and you give them all the value in the world on your website.
Maintain Consistency across all channels : All of your branding efforts—whether part of networking, marketing, or any other area that increases visibility—should express a consistent theme and message. Visual components, design elements, key information, and especially overall messaging should not vary from one place to the next.
Craft Uniform Messaging, Both Personally and Professionally : As an independent consultant, you are often viewed as representing your brand—even in your personal life and actions. Keep this in mind in your public, non-business communications and actions, including social media networks. Differing messages promoted by your personal and professional actions could create a perception of dishonesty or lack of trustworthiness.
Here are some of the less obvious strategies that are equally important.
- Your word : “You’re only as good as your word,” and that’s a 24/7 commitment. One of the best ways to build your brand is to do what you promise. Positive comments about how you “crushed it,” were on time and on budget, get around quickly. And it’s always better to over-deliver than over-promise. Your brand and integrity precede you. While it takes a long time to build your brand, it can go south quickly when you break that trust
- Your communication skills : Communications are the holy grail of emotional intelligence, a cornerstone of your brand (the way you interact and speak with othersis core to how you’re perceived).Are you responsive to emails, texts and voice mails? When you’re swamped, do you just ignore incoming messages or do you let people know you’re busy, but will get back to them (and follow through)?
- Your attire : It’s nice to believe that how you dress doesn’t matter, but the way you present yourselfrelates to etiquette and respect, to some degree. Your industry (such as creative or high tech) is a factor, of course, but generally speaking, dressing “smart” is always desirable. Consider: Would you trust the financial adviser in torn shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops, or the one in a nice blouse/shirt and blazer?
4.Your authenticity : Be genuine. If you’re out to impress, it will show. And what’s the point, anyway? Bernard M. Baruch said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
- Manage your brand : Like keeping your resume up to dateevery time you have a new experience, keep your brand up to date too. Make sure your online public photos and content are current and represent you well. Learn from experiences, as these are what shape you personally and professionally. Own your brand and commit to it; be bold, be different, be unique, be you!
The Bottom Line
Building a personal brand takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. The need for a personal brand will continue to increase. It’s the one thing that no one can take away from you, and it can follow you throughout your career. It’s a leadership requirement that lets people know who you are and what you stand for. If you get it right, your personal brand will make you stand out from the crowd, shine a spotlight on your expertise and enhance your value. You’ll have an energy and a buzz about you that people can’t help being drawn to.