You may hear entrepreneurs and influencers from all walks of life talk about their personal brand. What is a personal brand? Why do you need one?
If you’ve been around long, you’re no doubt familiar with corporate branding. We can hardly escape it. Turn on the TV, you see commercials. Drive down the highway, you see billboards. Branding is all around us for better or worse.
Why is that? Branding is a powerful tool for growing and maintaining any business.
But what does that look like on a personal level? How can you and I leverage the power of branding?
In the past, before the Internet, personal branding was arguably less important. But today, in our digital age, nothing that’s posted online is every truly gone. Personal branding and reputation management are critical.
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is – in short – how you come across to others. Everything about you – your likes, your experience, your skills, your words and your actions – combining to paint a picture of who you are as a person and potential business partner.
Among other factors,
Your personal brand is what sets you, dear reader, apart from the billions of other men and women out there. How are you different? What makes you better for this or that? Why should you be considered for a role or business deal? On the flip side, why should you not be considered?
A personal brand is a great professional ally if built correctly. On the flip side, a poor personal brand can be detrimental in all areas of life.
With that in mind, each of us has a choice: do we allow our brands to develop organically, without direction? Or do we carefully craft and manage the image we want to portray?
Before the digital age, your personal brand consisted of little more than your day-to-day, in person encounters and perhaps your business card. Today, every comment, post, tweet, and video is subject to public scrutiny for all time.
Why Do You Need a Personal Brand?
Remember, there are billions of people on this spinning rock. What makes you different? Your personal brand is what sets you apart from the rest. It’s what draws in clients, impresses potential employers, and attracts others to you.
Your personal brand highlights what you bring to the table and how you bring it. This is your opportunity to stand out and be special. Position yourself as the competent expert. Show the world that you know what you’re doing with your life.
A personal brand is essential for every entrepreneur or employee. This is what demonstrates your knowledge and sets you apart from the noise. As a marketer and owner of a marketing company, my personal brand speaks volumes about my company.
Everything about me reflects either positively or negatively on my company, my work, and even my clients.
Why is Personal Branding Important?
Your brand is what makes you a bright bulb in a sea of dim lights, someone who stands out both in person and online.
I want you to think about a brand like Apple. What makes Apple different from a company like HP? Dell? Lenovo? Asus? Acer? Whether you love Apple or hate them, you can’t deny that they’ve done a fantastic job of branding themselves.
Do you remember their iconic “I’m a Mac” commercials from years ago? These commercials were designed to differentiate Apple’s Mac from the standard PC, and they did a great job. Even as a PC guy, I can appreciate masterful branding work that Apple has done.
Because of that ad campaign, Macs are memorable.
Now, had Apple released a computer and simply said, “Here you go” would they have had so much success? I don’t think so. By highlighting the start contrast between their platform and that of their competitors, they have set themselves apart from the crowd and claimed a sizable share of the market.
Purchasing decisions are often driven more by familiarity and brand recognition than anything else – especially in a world that is largely skeptical of ads and other promotional methods. Had Apple remained an unknown, no-name company, they would not have enjoyed the success they have.
Similarly, your personal brand shows the world your differentiating factors. Your skills, your personality, your mindset all paint a powerful picture that either attracts or repels potential clients, partners or employers. All else being equal, your personal brand is what will convince others to do business with you.
You will also find it’s much easier to build an email list with strong personal branding.
How to Build Your Personal Brand
Building a personal brand is no joke. It’s not something that happens overnight. It takes time, effort, and consistency.
For entrepreneurs, the desire to grow a business and draw in customers is a major motivator for building a personal brand. The smart entrepreneur knows that his personal brand, his reputation, plays a direct role in determining the success or failure of his business.
Your goal, dear reader, is to mold your brand it that which your target customer wants to see: someone reliable, knowledgeable, and friendly.
Note: I’m not encouraging you to change yourself to become a suck up or a pushover – simply to consider how you come across to others and adjust as needed.
You personal brand should depict someone who cares about his target audience, loves what he does, and does it well.
There are four areas I want you to consider:
- What you do. What do you do – good or bad? What activities define you?
- How you do it. Do you do your work half-heartedly? Do you show up late? Is your workmanship poor?
- How you treat others. Your attitude toward others tells me more about you than just about anything else. How do you treat those with whom you disagree? Are you respectful and kind?
- Your appearance. Do you dress sloppily, or do you take care to be presentable?
You don’t want to come across as a sloppy, unskilled, rude person. Do you think a personal brand that paints a picture of a sloppy, rude, unskilled person will attract much business? Not a chance.
Social Media and Personal Branding
In today’s digital age, we need to be extra careful what we post online. In days past, a snarky comment or rude retort was confined to those within earshot – not out there for all the world to see. Today, a reputation can be destroyed in seconds. A compromising video. A negative Tweet. A questionable photo. That’s all it takes to harm your reputation – and thus your personal brand.
Before posting anything online consider what good or harm will come of it.
How does it reflect on you as a person? On your brand? On your company?
Everything you publish is being graded in one way or another. Post wisely.
Personal Branding Tips
While the online world is huge and shouldn’t be ignored, offline interactions with your colleagues, peers, potential clients and partners should reflect the kind of brand you want to build – and the sort of person you want to be.
A personal brand that exists only online isn’t honest. It’s not you. It’s fake.
While it’s true that online interactions are great for building our businesses, we shouldn’t neglect the “real” world. Everywhere you go, everyone you meet presents you with an opportunity to network and grow your brand.
If you don’t yet have business cards, I implore you to order some immediately. Keep them on you wherever you go. You never know who you might meet who might need your services.
Why Does Personal Branding Matter? Can’t You Just Wing It?
Personal branding is one of the most important things any entrepreneur can do. If we are to build our businesses, attract clients, and influence others, we must pay careful attention to how we come across to others.
Don’t let this become a back burner issue.
If you’re an entrepreneur – of any variety – take the time to examine your personal brand. Are you scaring off potential clients? Are you making your peers think twice about working with you? Or, are you painting the kind of picture that says, “I’m a trustworthy, competent, pleasant person to work with, and you should hire me?”
I can’t answer that for you. But you can.