What is a personal brand and who has one? The term was popularized by business management author Tom Peters, who describes it as “your promise to the world and the marketplace.” Your brand is you and how you convey you to others. Just like branding a product or company, there is an art to conveying the image and message you want about yourself.
In business, as in life, it is important to consider how you are presenting yourself. Similar to your reputation, your brand conveys a message about you to others, and whether you know it or not, you have one. You have a large impact on this message but you can’t just tell people what it is, you have to show them. Your brand is developed through your attitude, actions and accomplishments.
What makes your brand different than your reputation? In the modern marketplace your brand goes further than your reputation, just like the web pushes your messages further than the talk at the local coffee shop can. Developing your personal brand is an opportunity to tell people what you have to offer, what makes you special. Whether you are a new graduate looking for your first job, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a small business owner, your brand is important.
Approach your personal branding the same way those iconic brands approach it. Whether you are interviewing for your first job or pitching the services of your company, you are selling you! When you think about athletic apparel, maybe a swoosh logo comes to mind. When you are craving a hot snack, maybe it’s golden arches you envision. It works the same way with people. If you think about home décor and entertaining, Martha Stewart is likely to come to mind. She differentiated herself from the other purveyors of “everything home” by adding sophistication to simplicity. So, what makes you special? In what circumstances do you want people to think of you? How are you different from everyone else asking for the same opportunity?
Your personal brand may take time to develop and will continue to evolve over your lifetime, however, it’s best for you to proactively decide what you want your brand to be and take some steps to offer the right messages to the marketplace.
Always offer the best you. Your appearance and your attitude absolutely count and the implications of first impressions are far reaching. Presenting a neat and well put together appearance, projecting confidence and always being respectful and professional seem basic, but go a long way.
Be prepared. A great personal brand doesn’t just happen. Evaluate yourself – again, what makes you different, special and accomplished? Make a list of your greatest achievements. Catalogue these in your own mind so you can easily recall them when needed. Think about your best skills and personal stories that highlight those skills in a real world way. Put it all together into a brand message highlighting your own wow factors.
Present yourself to the marketplace. Whether you realize it or not, you are presenting your brand to the world every day. Your resume, web page, promotional materials, social media activity, and interactions with colleagues and clients all afford opportunities to present your brand. The more opportunities you take advantage of, the stronger your brand becomes.