At its core, a brand is about influencing others, by creating an identity that gets associated with certain perceptions and feelings. But branding isn't just for companies anymore. There is a rising trend called Personal Branding that we thought might be interesting to explore.
Successful Personal Branding entails managing perceptions effectively, and controlling and influencing how others perceive and think of you. Having a strong Personal Brand in today's online virtual and individual age is increasingly important. It is the positioning strategy behind the world's most successful people; just think of Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and ... Tiger Woods.
To emulate what these people have done, you need to establish your own micro-equivalent of the Nike swoosh. If you do this, you will be able to reach towards every opportunity within reach, will make a noteworthy contribution to your team's success, and will be ready to enter into the market place of your choice.
You can start thinking differently about yourself as of now. You're not an "employee" at Origin Energy, you're not a "worker" at Woolworths, or a "human resource" at Commonwealth. You don't "belong" to any company for life, and your prime affiliation isn't to any particular "function." Your job title doesn't define you, and you're not contained by your job description anymore.
As of now, you're a brand.
So what's your story? Where have you come from, and are you now, and where are you going?
Begin by asking yourself the same question that brand managers at Nike, Coke, or Apple ask themselves: What is it about my product and service that makes it different? Sum it up in 15 words or less. It will help if you actually write down your answer.
If your answer wouldn't light up the eyes of a prospect, or get a vote of confidence from a past client - or doesn't even grab you - then you've got a problem. It's time to start seriously imagining and developing your brand.
Where to start? Well you could identify the characteristics that mark you as distinctive from competitors and colleagues. What have you done recently to make you stand out? What would your competitors or colleagues list as your greatest and clearest strength? What is your clearest personal trait?
Throw out your job title: work out what you do that has remarkable, measurable, distinguishable and distinctive value. Erase your job description: work out what is you're most proud of achieving. To really become a brand, you'll need to focus unrelentlessly on those areas that add value, that you're proud of, and that you can take credit for.
You are a brand, you've got a brand, it's now about positioning you against your target audience.
Positioning "You Inc."
The good news about this approach is that it gives everyone the opportunity to stand out, learn, improve and build their skills. Everyone can be a brand worthy of serious interest.
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. It's that simple, that hard, and that inescapable.
There are different approaches to the idea of Personal Branding. Some people define Personal Branding from a marketing perspective, putting their focus on image building, selling, packaging, outward appearance, self-promotion, and getting famous. This can turn into an ego trip, and you may be perceived as selfish and egocentric. This approach will only take you so far: Personal Branding is way more than just promoting and marketing yourself.
A more real approach stresses making your Personal Brand authentically, and an authentic Personal Branding is a journey towards a happier and more successful life.
So, your Personal Brand needs to be authentic. It should emerge from your search for identity and meaning in life, and it's all about making very clear what you want, holding it in your mind, giving it all your positive energy, and developing yourself continuously. Your Personal Brand should reflect your true character, and needs to be based on your values, strengths, uniqueness and genius. If you are able to brand yourself in this natural way, then your brand will be strong, clear, and valuable to others. You'll attract the people and opportunities that fit with you.
The absolute beating that Tiger Woods' brand is currently receiving is linked with a large breach in the authenticity of his brand. His floundering ways are massively at odds with the model family-man image he has built around himself. If however you compare the Woods personal brand attributes with that of say, Tommy Lee or Mick Jagger, similar behavior is treated very differently because the values their personal brands represent are so different.
Remember, authentic Personal Branding requires:
- mindset change
Look at your brand's power through the prism of your resume. Lets firstly start by ridding yourself of an old fashioned word "resume." What you now have is a marketing brochure for Brand You. Rather than a static list of titles and positions, your marketing brochure brings to life the skills that you've mastered, projects delivered, and braggables you can take credit for.
Whatever happens today you need to measure Brand You against four things. You need to be a great team player and a supportive colleague. You've got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value. Thirdly you need to be a broad visionary - a leader, teacher, and imaginer. Lastly you need to be tightly focused on pragmatic outcomes.
You also need to apply the four indispensible rules of branding to this as you would any other branding activity. Having created your brand, ask yourself:
- Is it credible. So I truly believe in it and will others too?
- Is it relevant? Do I understand what my task really is, what I want to achieve and who specifically is my target audience?
- Is it Unique, differentiated, and memorable?
- Is it sustainable? Once created, we don't expect to change it, though some evolution (to remain relevant) is important.
It's that simple: you are a brand. You are it's CEO, and there is no single pathway to success. There's also no one way to create Brand You, but you need to start today. Or else.