It use to be that Brand referred to product, but in today’s world, the use of brand has taken on new applications. I see a lot of reference to Personal branding and Inward branding. In fact I just recently read an interesting article on Forbes.com about Donald Trump, and the concept of the human brand. Have these terms been renamed to speak to the times and establish a sexier term for initiatives that were always around but never deemed as important as Product branding?
This post concentrates on Personal Brand. I will expand on Inward Branding in a separate post.
Whatever industry you play in… or work in, Personal Brand and Branding are increasingly important for you to achieve business success…but what does Personal Brand really mean anyway?
Personal: it’s you. It’s your personality. To bring up The Donald again, he IS his brand. In the world of social media and constant communication, it is increasingly important to brand yourself. You don’t have to be a public speaker, or a blogger, looking for a job or a celebrity, and still you need to brand yourself. Branding yourself personally provides you with a point of differentiation from others in the business arena.. so when you will need it, you can draw upon it. You need to build awareness of you. In short, you are the product. It’s your game face!
I believe marketers not only always knew this but they knew how to work their own style to create a personal brand. However business and sales managers and executive, although very business focused may not have been so personal brand savvy.
In today’s communication era the need to have a defined personal brand is no longer a nice to have… but a need to have. In order to stand apart, to get ahead, it is no longer okay to just have a name with a good solid handshake! Just like a product Brand….you have to have a persona, a way to make sure that you do not blend into the background.
Are you among those that are mystified by this new brand adjective? As I browse the my LinkedIn network, I find a lot of discussions about “personal brand”… What is it? How to own it? How to achieve it? It’s really not that hard, (says the marketer!). Think of yourself as a brand… Lululemon, Nike, Channel or whatever Brand gets you excited. Now take that excitement and turn it onto yourself. Ask these following questions: What makes me different (what talents do I have?) What do I want others to remember about me? How do I make myself stand apart?
Here’s a 3-step approach to creating your, yes, very own, personal brand:
1. It’s all about the first impression…. at first.
The informality of business has allowed for a multitude of possibilities to set you apart. Maybe it’s a certain style of clothing, or like me, wearing a distinct colour. Yes, I wear purple every time I see a client. Initially I started doing that to assist in branding my firm. I accomplished that but it has also become synonymous with me! Be careful not to go too overboard. Always be cognizant of whom you are meeting, what their style is like and what the “acceptable tone” of the company is. Standing apart doesn’t mean making a spectacle of yourself, it means you have to be assertive in your statement, without overpowering your statement with props and fanfare.
2. Leave something behind…with that first impression…
Top the incredible first impression with a business card to leave behind. This business card has your coordinates and a positioning statement that succinctly states what you can deliver on… on what sets you apart in the business arena. This is probably going to be a lot harder than deciding what clothes you have to wear! It’s difficult to describe yourself, your abilities and what you do in one sentence. Start by asking what makes you different from others? What experience can you state (professional and personal) that provides you with an edge? Reach out to your colleagues and business associates and ask what they see as your biggest strength.
3. As with product brands… you have to deliver the goods….
Each one of us has bought into a brand promise, whether it’s a service or a product, and have been disappointed. You know what I mean? The brand just didn’t live up to to its sizzle (brand promise). So be sure that doesn’t happen to you. In other words, you could look great, exude all the energy that sets you apart from others and make that first impression count. Top that fabulous first impression with an equally fabulous designed business card with that concise positioning statement and you have it made…. Or almost. You have to live up to your promise and to your uniqueness. You have to deliver on the sizzle and maintain the reputation that your Personal Brand is based on. And that’s the most important step in developing and establishing a Personal Brand and ensuring your business success.
Keep posted on the second part of this series about Inward Branding. I invite you to join in the conversation! If you got here via a link from a friend, or LinkedIn, I invite you to join the conversation on marketing, branding and design… sign up on 3H hoopla! here.