Nike, Google, Apple, Coca-Cola – mention these names and you are likely to instantly conjure a picture of the brands they represent.
In fact, brands are so much part of our culture, it is obvious why businesses spend millions on building their brand until it becomes a household name.
Even on a local scale, having a “brand” identity for your business makes sense, as familiarity with your products, as well as the other values you stand for, helps build trust among potential customers.
But what about a personal brand? Do you have one and do you really need one?
The latter was the question asked (and answered) in a recent article I came across on the Entrepreneur website (read it in full here) which prompted me to do some more reading on the subject.
Here is some of what I have learned.
Apparently “personal branding” as a concept has been since about 1997 and it’s all about the impression you make on other people.
So, basically we all have one, but the idea is that if you want to get on in the world you need to consider the personal brand you project by giving careful consideration to what you do, what you say, how to dress and how to project yourself, in person and online.
By giving out a positive and consistent message, you can convey your chosen “brand” which reflects you and your values.
The upshot – as with a business brand – is that you can expect to inspire trust and loyalty among those who you deal with and that means you may well be the first person potential customers think of when they have a need for your products and services.
A personal brand makes your business appear “more human”. People are more likely to buy into your “story” than a brand.
Research has repeatedly shown that customers are more likely to trust messages – and therefore buy – from a person they trust rather than a “brand”. People like to buy from people.
So, a personal brand can help to win more clients for your company, help you get a better job, increase sales and build a better network (in real life and online) which can open up new opportunities for personal and professional success.
Creating a personal brand
There are several things to consider to create a successful personal brand.
To start with you really need to spend a bit of time thinking about the image you want to portray.
- What is important to you. This could be things like business success, family, financial security or community.
- What are your passions? Is it travel, technology or design?
- What are your traits? Are you honest, creative, affable?
- What is your vision? Where do you want to be in a year, or three, or ten?
When you have done an honest appraisal of who you are and what you want, you need to start thinking about how best to convey those things as your personal brand.
You want people to associate feelings of trust with your brand, so you also need to take into account what will appeal to your target market – what do they like and want, what are their values, passions and problems?
But there’s something important you need to keep in mind when asking these questions and that is:
“Be Yourself; Everyone else is already taken”.
Oscar Wilde had it right with that famous quote. You need to be YOU. People will see straight through you if you try to convey a false image of yourself – not to mention how tiring it will be for you to keep up that pretense.
You are going to need to consistently convey your personal brand day in and day out, online and in person, for ever.
Like a business, building a personal brand takes time, but there are a few things you can do which will have an immediate impact and are relatively easy to do:
- Invest in a professional photograph for your social networks and other business literature.
- Consider creating a personal website to promote you and your brand. It can be straightforward and include your CV and any blog posts you create.
- Change your email signature. It’s a useful way of conveying your brand every time you send out an email. As well as your name, title, company and contact details, consider including that professional photo.
- Create content. Content marketing is the buzzword at the moment. By creating informative and entertaining content you can position yourself as a thought leader or expert in your field. Write a blog on your website and share on social media.
The bottom line of personal branding is all about staying in the minds of others and being memorable.
I questioned on social media the necessity of a personal brand for a local small business owner who has no ambition to become globally or even nationally recognised.
After some thought, I believe that while not a “necessity” there are benefits to those people cultivating their personal brands. Building familiarity and trust among potential customers can never be a bad thing. Nor can earning recognition as an expert in your field.
On another level, considering your personal brand also gives you a chance to really think about every aspect of the way you come across to other people and make those changes which will help you become the person you want to be in your personal and professional life.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.