The Power of Personal Branding: Make it Work for You
Creating and marketing a personal brand helps you stand out
Building a brand a requires significant thought
Establishing your brand can require only a few simple easy steps
It’s hard to deny the importance of brands. They guide us toward carefully curated impressions of the good being branded. Though, a brand is more than just the name and reputation of a product or firm: it is the emotions, images, and sounds that form consumer’s perception. An effective brand allows any good to become symbolic of a message, and allows firms to carve that message onto their products. Brands can be awesomely powerful, carrying with them potentially so much weight and perceived value that a large portion of consumers would purchase the branded good over any other competitors in the market. Mcdonalds, Tide, Kraft, Walmart, Ford,Gucci, Tiffany; these are all brands that have near legendary significance in their sectors. But why should the power of branding be reserved for giants of industry? News flash...it’s not! You can harness the power of branding as an individual using easy and simple techniques, to subtly communicate information about yourself to those around you. This can help you to stand out to recruiters, grow your personal business, or be first in line for a promotion. It is essential in building your career (no matter what your career is), that you begin to see and treat yourself as a brand.
1. Consider What General Perception of You Currently Exists
Really think about it, what are the positives and negatives of having a professional relationship with you? This will give an idea of what qualities you would like to build on, and what traits you may perhaps like to replace or remove from your brand. Should you have media posted online that could be considered unprofessional, offensive, or even illegal, you will probably want to go ahead and start deleting. The same goes for encounters in the physical world. If people perceive you as poorly dressed, unprofessional, and rude, you will want to take steps to counter those perceptions. In general, the core tenant of sales is that people buy what they think will make them happy. Therefore, keeping negative information about yourself out of the spotlight as much as possible is key.
2. Decide What Your Message is
Exactly what message do you wish to communicate? Your message should represent your current abilities and talents, while also reflecting your aspirations and goals. Perhaps you want people to know that you are a frugal tech enthusiast with dreams of becoming a CEO. The easiest way to let your audience know is to tell them. An effective tool to use is the mission statement. Mission statements are quick and to the point, which is important in a fast paced digital landscape. It takes more than just a mission statement to cultivate a brand however, and it is often recommended that you maintain at least 10 social media profiles as well as a professional looking personal website in order to have the best chance at reaching your audience. In an article for Forbes Magazine, Shama Hyder explains “Every tweet you send, every status update you make, every picture you share, contributes to your personal brand. It is an amalgamation of multiple daily actions. Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand.”
3. Know Your Demographic
Before reaching your audience, you need to know who they are. In the case of personal branding, your audience (or demographic)will usually be individuals or groups that you desire to work with or for. Your audience should also include influencers in the sector(s) or niche that you are interested in. Should you like to work in tech, imagine what it would mean to have Bill Gates recognize and identify with you and your brand. Taking into account that this is an unlikely scenario, you should concentrate on people who are more accessible. But, who are exactly they? Their interests, age, gender, and income bracket is all pertinent information, because you need to strategically reach them through marketing. An easy trick is to literally imagine the average person in your demographic, and write down what you think their traits are. This will help you visualize this important information and sharpen your strategy. On a page dedicated to helping people find their market, Inc.com shares their advice. “ Once you know who you are targeting, it is much easier to figure out which media you can use to reach them and what marketing messages will resonate with them. Instead of sending direct mail to everyone in your ZIP code, you can send it only to those who fit your criteria. Save money and get a better return on investment by defining your target audience.”
4. Reach your Target Market
The most important part of personal branding may be to actually reach your demographic. You may have created a wonderful brand, but it will mean nothing if nobody hears what you have to say. In a world where everything seems digital, it is important to remember that actions speak louder than words. Volunteer, attend networking events, participate in collaborative projects...do anything to get yourself out there. As you connect with more people, they will subconsciously begin to identify and rely on your brand. Think of it this way, when your friends know that you are knowledgeable in all things computers, they will come to you any time they have a computer related issue! The same applies here. If the influencers in your sector know that you are the one to go for help, you can expect a lot of job offers. In a guest article for HuffPost, Ceo of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Madeline Bell, provides a strong summary, “These days, it’s not enough to keep your head down and produce A-plus work. You need to connect with others, be vocal about your interests and career goals, and build relationships with people you might not otherwise have met.”
Rodale, Maria, and Madelin Bell. “The Importance of Networking (and How to Do It Well).” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/the-importance-of-network_b_9039062.html.
Porta, Mandy. “How to Define Your Target Market.” Inc.com, Inc., www.inc.com/guides/2010/06/defining-your-target-market.html.
Hyder, Shama. “7 Things You Can Do To Build An Awesome Personal Brand.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 17 Feb. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/shamahyder/2014/08/18/7-things-you-can-do-to-build-an-awesome-personal-brand/2/