The idea of a personal brand is more popular than ever, but it’s one of those terms that’s often tossed around without a deep understanding of what it actually is. When you hear the word brand, you may think of a massive corporation with instant name recognition or a larger than life individual. But every single person and company is capable of developing a brand.
What Does Brand Mean?
Before we dive into what personal branding is, it’s important to clarify the term brand. Does brand refer to a logo, a hashtag, or a type of style? Those things are a part of one’s brand, but a brand is much more than just visual elements.
A common definition of the word is: it’s the overall impression that you leave on others through the expression of your values and your passions.
In other words, it’s your essence or reputation as it exists in the minds of your employees, your customers, and your potential audience. Your brand is important because it’s the thing that makes you stand out from competitors and colleagues.
Personal branding is actively cultivating the elements that make up your brand. It is the conscious choice to consider what you have to offer this world and crafting marketing strategies, delivering messages, and providing visual cues that communicate and reinforce the impact you wish to make. It’s how you leave your customer feeling after they interact with you or anyone from your company.
The Rise in the Interest of Personal Branding
Conversations about personal branding are happening more frequently in digital spaces, but the concept of a personal brand isn’t new.
An example of how most people first engage in personal branding is writing a resume. A resume lists basic information such as your credentials, your education, and your work experience. But the best resumes also include information about more personal things such as your vision, your mission, your values, and how you’ve explored your passions through work or study.
Resumes may have fallen out of favor in the digital age, but the concept of creating a unified, panoramic view of who you are, what you stand for, and the legacy you hope to accomplish is still relevant and applicable to everyone.
Unlike a resume that is normally seen by a handful of people in the HR department or a hiring manager at specific companies where you’ve applied to work, you can build your personal brand today across digital platforms. As a result, your influence and the opportunities that you create for yourself exist on a much larger scale.
Benefits of Developing Your Personal Brand
One major benefit of tending to your personal brand is that it can help you stand out and get noticed whether you’re an entrepreneur or trying to climb the corporate ladder. Some things to consider when you’re creating your personal brand to support professional advancement include your values, your ideal position, and the legacy that you want to leave within a company.
Having a strong personal brand is a great way to build connections with other people whether they’re potential customers or coworkers. When you begin to express your reason for showing up every day and sharing what fuels or excites you, that is a part of your brand expression that will draw like-minded individuals to you like a magnet.
People are attracted to storytellers who explore values they can relate to because it stirs up their own sense of belonging and purpose. It’s human nature to want to follow people who are on the front lines of making positive change happen. So building a personal brand isn’t just about getting ahead, it’s a practical way to shape the world into a better place.
Another important benefit of building a personal brand is to take control of your image. In our modern age, both employers and consumers expect to be able to research people who they’d like to hire, work with, or buy from. Consider it a given that there is someone out there who is curious enough about you to scour the internet for relevant information about who you are. Remember you’re just a quick Google search away from what the internet has to share about you. 😉
It’s critical that you are proactive about ensuring the information that exists about you is accurate and that it conveys the core of who you are and what you stand for. Failure to do so is taking an unnecessary risk when it comes to your reputation.
When you build your personal brand, you are giving people an the change to build a rapport with you and trust in you by providing a realistic picture of who you are and setting expectations about what it means to engage with you.
It’s important to put your best face forward, but don’t portray an unrealistic version of yourself because it’ll only be a matter of time before the truth comes out. Personal branding is all about authenticity and consistency, so developing a fictional persona for yourself is a recipe for disaster.
People want to work alongside you or spend money on your offers when they consider you trustworthy. So don’t be afraid to show the real you.
How to Start Thinking About Your Personal Brand
A natural place to begin with personal branding is to pay attention to what grabs your attention. Have you ever been faced with a particular issue or excited by an idea and thought to yourself, “Wow, I wish more people were talking about this!”
Or maybe you’ve had a deep longing to connect with others who hold similar ideas and beliefs so that you could work together to solve a problem or to inspire a movement. Personal branding gives you the opportunity to make your mark as a thought leader or to push ideas forward within your sphere of influence.
Consistently sharing your insights on a specific issue or industry is one of the best ways to develop an identity as an expert. This is also the ticket to increased visibility.
You don’t have to be extraordinarily accomplished to be deemed worthy of growing your brand. All you have to do is become clear about what conversations you’d like to have or continue and consistently communicate your thoughts about that topic in the right forums. Even if you’re not sharing novel information, if you can talk about something from your unique perspective, your audience will be captivated by your ability to bring energy to seemingly stale conversations. That’s an incredible way to develop a stand out personal brand.
How to Perform A Personal Brand Audit
Social media is one of the easiest places to understand your existing personal brand. These platforms are also a great starting point for refining your personal brand.
If used correctly, social media can be an excellent launching pad for growing your personal brand. To begin, perform a quick audit of all your social media profiles.
Are you using images of yourself that portray you in the best light? Could someone view your “About” section and instantly walk away with an understanding of what you do, how you do it, and why you do it?
Think about the conversations you’re having. Are you saying things that you would be comfortable seeing all over the news? There are numerous examples of individuals whose “private” social media commentary has landed them in hot water. If your personal brand is important to you, and it better be, consider restricting certain personal opinions to in person conversations with close friends..
Begin using social media to your advantage by thinking about which conversations you’d like to have with your connections. Make a plan to show up consistently every week or so and share articles or original commentary that may be of mutual interest to you and the people in your network. Ask questions and make note of the response you get. Fine tune your sharing as you go.
Take your digital presence to the next level with a personal website or blog. By doing this, the next time someone Googles your name, they have the opportunity to come across a polished expression of your personal brand on a platform that you control. Using a website as one of your platforms can open doors to opportunities that you may not otherwise be given.
Your website under your vanity URL (firstnamelastname.com) will typically pop up on page 1 of a Google search too so that’s all the more reason to get a piece of real estate and a home on the web.
Speaking of Google searches, another great way to audit your personal brand is to search your name. What results come up on the first three pages of your search? Are they relevant, current and about topics you want to be associated with? While you’re at it, click on the “images” tab at the top of the search results. How do you look online? What photos of you come up? These are things to consider as you’re growing your audience and amplifying your presence online.
More Elements of Personal Branding
If you want to go deeper with personal branding, download our FREE guide: What Is Personal Branding…And Do I Really Need It? Inside you’ll learn all about our signature framework for identifying and developing your personal brand.