Personal brands are not just for actors, authors and speakers. With the constant access to information and the ability to easily post your life online, everyone should consider their personal brand. It’s important to think about how you look online to prospective employers, customers and even employees. Today, everyone should consider building his or her personal brand.
The act of brand building, whether for an individual or a company, has many of the same components.
Before Building Your Personal Brand
Understand your purpose – both personally and professionally, and make sure they are aligned.
Carve out how you stand out – what makes you different from everyone else?
Really know your target audience – what keeps them up at night?
Building a company brand requires stepping away from your own personal voice and creating a voice that is unique for the company – one that truly resonates with the audience you wish to attract. Building a personal brand, however, is different in that you also are looking for a thought leadership position. You are working toward creating a voice for yourself that ensures you can garner respect in your industry and/or with your peers. So what are the best steps to begin building and maintaining a solid personal brand?
Personal Branding Do’s …
Begin with the End in Mind. Build a strategy that encompasses not just who you are today, but who and where you want to be throughout your career. Go beyond just the career aspect and think about who you are and who you really want to be by answering these questions.How do I want to be remembered?
What causes, charities or passions do I have?
What is the most important legacy for me to leave?
Why does this matter?
Create a Personal Digital Footprint. Treat all your personal social media, blogs and websites as part of your overall brand strategy. Do they represent you in the manner you wish? Are they indicative of the way you want to be remembered and the legacy you wish to leave behind? Keep your personal digital assets in alignment with the mission and vision you have for yourself.
Think Through Your Personal Voice and Tone. This requires you to think about your future and how you wish to be remembered. If you are good with a more casual style, that is fine. But if you are young and see yourself leading a large corporation some day, then consider how you want people to respond to you then, versus now. What you say and how you say it matters. So think ahead and develop a personal brand voice that is authentic, but serves you now and in the future. Remember, people can search for your digital assets, and even decades from now will probably be able to find them. You want them to serve you well throughout your life.
Acquire Digital Assets Before You Need Them. If you have a very unusual name, then you might get lucky and get a domain name registered in your actual name. But if you have a more common name, the likelihood of getting johnsmith.com is very small. Consider registering for domain names for you and your family, particularly your children, before you need them. It’s a small amount of money to pay to protect your online reputation. Also remember there are plenty of other sites such as About.me as well as social media platforms where you want to claim your space as soon as possible.
Give Yourself Room to Grow. You will continue to grow and expand along your life’s journey, so when you are considering your personal brand, set it up to give you room to grow. It may be more prudent to forgo tag lines simply because they limit possibilities going forward. You may believe you are always going to be a corporate executive, but one day create the latest mousetrap and suddenly become an inventor. Or perhaps you want to be a renowned author and speaker, but today that is not where you can focus your energy. Make sure your brand is simple and clean so you can expand and change your focus as your life changes.
A Personal Branding Don’t…
As an entrepreneur, it is very easy to blend your personal brand with your company brand. In fact, it’s very common. However, if you think about how you wish to grow as an individual, and how you want your company to grow, it is prudent to make efforts to keep the two separated. Now, you do want your company brand and personal brand to align. In fact, you want any company brand that you work with to align with your personal brand. It shows strength of character and a focus on dignity and purpose. What you don’t want to do is mix the two so that there is no distinction. You are who you are and who you wish to be – that is your personal brand. Your company has a voice and purpose of its own. So aligning is fine, but draw that fine line so that you can keep your personal brand your own!