What do you think when you hear the word brand? Does the word bring to mind companies like Apple, Ford, Starbucks, and Walmart? Or do you think of people like Martha Stewart, Steve Jobs, Hugh Hefner, and Lady Gaga?
Both lines of thinking are likely. Today, brand can be associated with both Corporate entities (“Professional Brands”) or Public and Private Individuals (“Personal Brands”). As you could imagine, for some people it is difficult to separate the two. (Think of Kim and the rest of the Kardashian clan: their identities and lifestyles are their brand.)
Of course, not all of us will brand ourselves in the Kardashian mode. Not all of us can even answer, What is your personal brand?
Today, Personal Branding is something that everyone in the business world should consider. As Professionals, our Personal Brands are something that follows us around the business world, from place to place and relationship to relationship. It is important to carefully craft and cultivate your brand so that you can maximize your visibility and recognition.
Here are (5) five tips on how you can develop and maintain a successful Personal Brand:
The Brand Called You
From this point forward, begin to think of yourself as the brand. What do people say about you? What kind of association do you want people to make when they hear your name? Your Personal Brand should be derived from other people’s perception of who you are, what you stand for, and how you are representing yourself to the world. Are you asking to be seen as a Subject Matter Expert, an icon in your industry, or an Advocate for Small Businesses? Are there more general “branded” qualities for which you want to be known? Once you are clear about what you would like your brand to be, you can start to engage in brand-building initiatives to support your brand identity.
A Digital Presence is Integral to Your Brand
Like it or not, all of us are living in a digitally connected world. It is difficult for any one of us to hide on the Internet, and truth be told it is rather easy for others to find us. Therefore, you should always be thinking of your Personal Brand as it relates to maintaining a positive online presence. Google yourself – what comes up? Do you have much individual visibility, or do most of the links take you back to your Company’s website? It may take time to grow an online presence-let’s face it, not everyone can go viral-but it is necessary if you want others to know who you are. Though you may have spurned it before, get on social media, begin to create content, and share with the world.
Create a Personal Website
Consistent with building a digital presence is your need to create a Personal website. Whether you are a Business Owner or an employee of a company, most web searches land on your Professional profile and Professional activity. Your personal branded website, however, should be a landing page where the world finds you online. You do not need to invest in an extravagant layout with broad content; a simple site with a headshot, your bio and credentials, and your social media links will suffice.
Build Your Brand by Association
You can build an even stronger profile for your brand if you connect with other brands that are in sync with and support your own. Remember, it is always better to be known and active among similar branded entities than to stand out for negative reasons. For example, become active in a Business Association or Alumni Group, contribute to a specific publication or cause, or volunteer time and expertise to a not-for-profit. As mentioned, how other people see you is the brand; when they see you in association to something they know or like, you increase your brand’s clout.
Don’t Deviate From Your Brand
It may take a very long time to build a solid, recognizable brand, but it can take a single event or situation to damage or destroy that work. Protect your brand, don’t deviate from what is already known and respected. These days, be careful about what content you share on social media or in person, and understand that the public is not always ready for your particular style of personal brand.
There are innumerable articles on Personal Branding. Here are a few that I found very interesting: