Brand “You Ltd.”
Personal Branding: the secret road to success
Going under a quick check around the web, recently, the phrase I encountered the most is “personal branding”. Only by typing “personal branding” on Google search you will come up with most that 26 million results!
But what is it, anyway?
Branding and brand are business terms that refer on the business strategy a company has on promoting and getting its products and services known to its consumers and possible customers.
The logo, the name, that characteristic symbol your favourite product has that in your eyes, in customers’ eyes, differentiates it from others of its kind (competitors), is called brand.
Branding calls upon the ways your brand is imprinted into your customers and how it is reflected into their everyday life. It concerns the business strategy a company decides to put in action in order to give meaning on specific products and shape a brand in consumers’ minds. Its goal is to make sure consumers identify themselves with this product and choose it every time, from this time forward.
Strange as it might seem, branding goes deeper! As Seth Godin said, people do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic! From this point of view, branding wants to connect more deeply with consumers and speak to them in terms of identity and emotion. Branding’s goal is to trigger specific emotions of connecting identity that reflect back to the brand and the company. It is who we are, who we wanna be, why we do what we do and most importantly how we want others to see, us and our product in return. It’s the way we perceive a brand, a company, a person and what our delivery expectations are.
People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic!
— Seth Godin
At the 21st century, branding could and should be a personal project, too! Every person, every single one of us, is the unique brand of himself! And in times that unemployment rates are extremely high and even the smallest details matter, one should not be afraid to go the extra mile and invest in himself and his brand!
Personal branding is the way you showcase your uniqueness at the world!
As markets grows, not only products and services, but also individuals are in the spotlight’ they are those who could really make a difference in how the today’s and tomorrow’s market works and grows. Personal branding’s purpose is to put light in your uniqueness, to showcase your competitive advantage so that you could differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Your personal brand is your story! It is how you want the world, the businesses, your boss, your colleagues, your competitors and advocates, how you want to see yourself in the mirror. Do you want to be successful? Do you want to show the world your worth, your value? Your skillset and your passions? Do you want to leave your mark and be consider as a thought leader of your industry? Then, invest in developing your personal brand!
Building your personal brand is like working on a start-up! It starts with a crazy idea one morning, a quote you read somewhere or something your favourite tv series character said. But the magical part is the journey itself! You don’t know from where and how to start, as well as, where or when the journey will end and how far you’d have gone. It is a dynamic ongoing work. It grows as you grow!
Personal branding should be part of a business strategy of your main product, YOU! You and your value proposition are the ones you should focus on promoting. Whatever is your goal, get a job, begin a startup, get promoted, make a career change, personal branding techniques are here to help you succeed!
Who are you?
The first step is a step backwards’ back to you and your inner self. YOU are the BRAND! But, who are you? What do you do? What are your capabilities? What is your value proposition? Why should someone work with you? You, your personality, your values reflect back on your brand. It’s who you are! You have to discover yourself to discover your brand!
You are a business of one, and as every other business you have to stop for a minute and identify your strong and weak spots. SWOT Analysis is an exceptional business tool that one could easily use for personal causes.
Start by writing down your strengths and your weaknesses. Your passion could be your strength! Do you have a special skill or talent? Good knowledge of a specific area of expertise or subject? Your soft skills, values and work ethic could be added here too. Fill in the weaknesses section with skills you should work on in order to get better and evolve. Your passion could be a strength, but if you get distracted or can’t prioritise your todos and liabilities, it is transformed into a weak spot you need to improve. Try being completely honest with yourself and don’t make things look better than they actually are! Your weak spots cannot be weak spots forever. They are just skills you need to work more on to master.
Remember: Be who you are! If you try to be someone else you will disappear into the background — Adrea Stenberg.
Finish your SWOT Analysis with the opportunities and threats. How can you master a new skill while developing others? Are there any online classes you could take? Or ways to sidestep your way into a new business sector or a new job? On the other hand, threats could be anything from your competitors to possible future changes of the market’s needs.
The second tool I would like to recommend, is the Personal Business Model Canvas or Business Model YOU. Based on Business Model Canvas philosophy, you get to fill in the sections with your value proposition, your services, your channels, your potential target group, your advocates and the people who will help you achieve your goal, your revenues and expenses (what you will earn and how much the journey will cost you at the end).
Create your brand
Personal branding is a mix of marketing and sales. You need both to market and sale yourself to achieve your goals.
The easy part goes first! We all have personal accounts on Facebook and Twitter. What if you transformed them into your professional accounts? With a few changes in your about section, like filling in or changing your email into a professional one — forget email@example.com and invest in a firstname.lastname@example.org professional email — and deleting those embarrassing moments from three summers ago, you got a professional but still personal social media account. Now the only thing left is publishing content relevant to your professional interests and passions and stay active. Besides Facebook and Twitter, a Linkedin account is necessary and essential. The network interaction with other professionals could launch your brand into exciting new directions.
It’s time to be creative! Everyone has that degree! There’s nothing unique in it! Don’t be a mediocre! Take a step forward and create your personal website or blog. Let your audience find out all the ways they could work with you and why! Share your story and bring value to your job!
Go pro and establish yourself with a professional email signature and a business card. But I don’t have a job yet, what am I going to print on my business card, you might ask? How about your moto or a quote you identify yourself with professionally? An elegant design of your initials along with contact details and your website? You are ready to rock!
Marketing and sales techniques can help you uplift yourself as a brand. The first step towards success is defining your target audience. Reading about reputation management lately I have embraced the following saying “go to places you are celebrated not tolerated”. The solution each one of us hold is for specific people. We tend to define success in the masses, but instead we should define it in people we are surrounded by. Know your audience and invest in engagement techniques!
Your target group may be consisted of competitors. Other professionals that claim a share on the same market as you do. “Know your enemies better than your friends”, another saying declares. Go and find out what others have done, what they do and how do they achieve their goals. Study their marketing and sales techniques. Follow those that speak to you and think of ways to differentiate yourself. Be creative, take advantage of your strengths and opportunities and lead your way to success.
Competitors are not always the bad guys. Effective communication is the key in turning both your audience and your competitors into brand advocates. Build relationships with meaning! Go sit with people that will help you elevate your brand while being clear of what you offer. Invest in a two way networking. It is beneficial for both parties.
Find the paths that lead straight to your target audience and speak their language. Your advocates derive mostly from there! Don’t be fake and share things that mean a lot in a personal level. When people see at you what they they are, what they think and feel, will follow to the end of the world! Just remember being true and clear, and nothing would scare you on the way to the top.
Stay on top
Determine your goal and metrics. What are your Measures of Success (MoS) and Key Performance Indexes (KPIs)? What’s your goal? Do you have more than one goals? When will it be successfully completed? Figure out all the metrics you need to keep an eye on in order to succeed.
You have done all the appropriate steps, followed the rules and built your brand! You are not done! The race starts now! Your brand will fail if you don’t stay active in a regular basis. Besides the social media platforms you have decided to use you need to figure out how often, what days and times you will go active. Invest in analytics and SEO and take a look where you stand’ daily, weekly, monthly, annually.
There is no recipe for success! Since our childhood we are raised with stories. Stories with hidden meanings, special to each one of us in different ways. Stories that keep us going! Everyone is different and has different stories to tell. What is your story? Go ahead and tell the world!