Everyone has a personal brand, but not everyone acknowledges it and manages it proactively. Many business owners let personal branding happen to them rather than create the image that they want people to see.
Some people don’t like the term “personal brand” because people aren’t or shouldn’t be brands. Some people think that it is a thinly veiled term for self-promotion, publicity or image management.
Your personal brand is so much more. It is a way of consistently projecting a true, authentic view of you, your expertise and your promise of value to the marketplace.
The personal branding process enables you to:
Why is personal branding important?
Having a strong personal brand and using it consistently is important to your success or the success of your small business. Personal branding can help you establish yourself as an expert in a space. A personal brand:
- Helps you to clearly and consistently project who you are, what you do and why you do it
- Is a promise of value to those with whom you work
- Answers the question what makes you different and why
- Allows you to focus on your strengths and follow your passion
Passion, Purpose and Personal Branding
Understanding and following your passion and purpose, whether it is the reason why you chose to go into business for yourself or the career choice you made, is the key to your personal brand. The purpose – the emotional connections you make with those you help – is why some people naturally want to connect with you and not someone else in the same field. And if you are passionate about what you do and are comfortable with the way you are perceived, your confidence will start to become contagious.
Benefits of a strong personal brand
Increases visibility and value
You become the expert for those needing your solution. This increases your value in their eyes and allows you to charge fairly for your services.
When your brand is strong, authentic and compelling, it increases the confidence you have in yourself and projects that confidence to everyone around you. We all know people want to be around strong, confident and successful people and having this strong brand becomes your beacon in the sea of business owners.
Raises credibility and authority
The more you establish yourself as the authority and expert in your area, the more people seek you out. People want to work with the experts and although someone may be just as good as you, if they aren’t known through their personal brand, they will be hidden.
Your personal brand speaks volumes about what you can do and how you will do it, differentiating you from your peers, colleagues and competitors.
Influences purchase decision
A solid brand that projects your passion and purpose will attract those that will want to work with you.
Creates trust with your prospects and clients.
A strong personal brand that is well developed adds an emotional attachment that becomes part of the decision-making process.
Personal Branding Process
An exercise that will help you figure out your personal brand regardless of whether you are just starting to develop it or have one, is to answer the following questions as if you were developing your personal marketing plan. To help with this exercise, I’ve adapted the my marketing plan template to help you jot down your answers.
Discover who you are:
- Define your passion and purpose? There are skills that you have that can be valuable to others.
- What are your values?
- What are your short term and long term goals? Where do you want to be in a year? Three years?
- How do you want to be perceived? (i.e. linear, focused, collaborative, connected, expert, ethical, etc.)
- What are your core strengths? What are your weaknesses? (not to beat yourself up but to understand them so you don’t try to pursue something where one of your weaknesses is mandatory)
- How do other people describe you?
- Who is your target audience? What group of people do you want to work with or for?
- Who is your competition?
- What makes you the ideal choice for your target audience to do business with you rather than your competition, i.e. what makes you different?
Create your identity
Once you have your brand story, create an identity that projects it through image, messaging, keywords and content that you can promote. Create your personal brand statement that you can use to help people understand who you are and what you offer.
Make it visible
Promote your brand consistently across your entire web presence. That includes your website and the right social media channels for you. If you work with local businesses, also project your brand at networking groups and whenever you are meeting with people.
Finding your personal brand is not a quick exercise. It takes time and thought to really know your passion and purpose in life. Figure out what you want to be known for and work at making it happen.