Branding is the central part of any business. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. Branding on a business-level is common, but today branding is becoming just as important on a personal level. After all, you might work for a business that works with other businesses, but its people working with people and that’s what makes business relationships valuable. In today’s business world of constant change in technology and ever increasing competition in the workforce every employee needs a strong and effective personal brand strategy to have a competitive edge, thrive and remain relevant to their employer. But….
WHAT IS A BRAND?
I like to think of a brand as a promise. Let me explain further using the world’s most valuable brand in 2014 and 2015 – Apple Inc. The Apple branding strategy focuses on the emotions. The starting point is how an Apple product experience makes you feel, the brand is about lifestyle; imagination; prestige; innovation; passion; dreams and aspirations; and power-to-the-people through technology. To keep up with this huge promise Apple’s core competence remains to deliver exceptional customer experience through superb user interfaces imbibing simplicity and the removal of complexity from people’s lives.
So, having understood the essentials of a brand, your thoughts are why do professionals need a rock solid personal brand?
A personal brand is your distinct talents/competency and what you represent. How people perceive you at work has always been vital to a successful career. Now with the Internet, social media, and increased access to information, the ability to brand and promote yourself effectively has become absolutely essential. No matter how talented you are, it doesn’t matter unless managers can see those talents and think of you as an invaluable employee, a game-changing manager, or the person whose name is synonymous with success, you cannot:
-Get a better job
-Get new contracts and clients for your company
-Get recognition and promotions
-And lots more
HOW DO YOU CREATE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND?
- CREATE A PERSONAL VISION STATEMENT.
Businesses create vision and mission statements. Creating a personal brand begins much the same way by creating a personal vision. It is your image of what you see possible for the world – your desired future. Your life’s vision should include how you see yourself in 10, 20 and even 50 years and what you want to be known for.
- DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE.
When branding yourself your job is not to be ‘famous’, but rather to be ‘selectively famous’. If you’re looking for a job, you’re selling yourself to a potential employer. But your target audience goes beyond an employer, you’re looking to build a community of people—employers, peers, influencers, etc.—who can all be assets in different ways. The key step here is to map out the people and communities with potential to aid your growth.
- CREATE A BRAND OUTREACH (CREATE ONLINE AND OFFLINE ASSETS)
It’s necessary to get exposure in the places where your target audience is spending time.
- ONLINE: This involves using social media and blogs as a vehicle to help your personal brand reach your target audience. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, google+, twitter (and even Instagram) can be an invaluable tool when it comes to telling prospective employers who you are and who you are not. It is also a tool to showcase your work and achievements. Social media can also tell prospective employers what you are passionate about, your language style, your social capital and lots more. The fundamentals for building a rock solid social presence is to make it:
-Clarity: Be clear about who you are. By knowing your unique promise of value, you are identifying what sets you apart from others. This is what differentiates you and allows you to attract brand loyalty among the people who are compelled to do business with you.
-Consistency: Once you are clear about your promise of value, consistently demonstrate your brand promise everywhere, across all social platforms as well as your resume.
-Constancy: It is not enough to be clear and consistent if you are not always visible to your target audience. Strong brands are constant.
- OFFLINE: Seminars, meetups, career fairs, professional associations and other related bodies are the platforms that create a great opportunity to leave an impression with prospective employers. Offline branding has a lot to do with your physical appearance, from dressing, timeliness, neatness, the way you speak, language tone, and lots more. The bottom line is this; be a full package.
- MONITOR YOUR BRAND.
Once you’ve established what you want your personal brand to be and you’re working to grow it you’ll need to monitor the growth and the perception. It’s important to see how your target audience associates you within your industry and how they feel about you in general. Remember, your brand is not what you want people to think you are, it is what they perceive you to be, so live in the inquiry. And most importantly, be original, be yourself because everyone is already taken.
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