Why Personal Branding?
To have a successful business, you must first understand the power of branding. Your personal brand is made up of the qualities and unique traits you communicate about yourself, and it represents the way you want other people to think about you.
Personal branding has recently increased as individuals seek to differentiate themselves, developing a unique brand that will propel career and job opportunities. Many people think that personal branding is just for celebrities such as Lady Gaga or Lance Armstrong, but every individual is in fact, a brand.
There are millions of other people offering the same service as you, now ask yourself; “how do I currently stand out in the crowd?”. Without branding, you’re simply part of the many, and not part of the few.
Personal branding is about really digging deep and spending time developing a unique:
- Brand Statement;
- Brand Position;
- Name, that speaks to what you’re doing;
- Brand Promise;
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP); and
- Graphic imagery
Think of your brand as a stage; it allows you to rise above your competitors and show consumers with confidence why they should choose you versus your competitor.
Personal branding, by definition, is the process in which people and their careers are marked as brands. If you're looking for a way to fast track your career, personal branding is the answer.
Discover Your Brand
As a brand, you can leverage the same strategies that make celebrities or corporate brands appeal to your consumer. Personal branding involves four basic traits:
- Unique capabilities;
- Values; and
- A brand promise.
Just like a corporate brand, you must establish and project what makes you unique and why people should come to you rather than the next guy.
- Do you have a specialized certification or superior quality?
- Do you work exceptionally well with a certain demographic?
- Do you have an irresistible personality?
Talk about this with your family, co-workers, friends, as they all provide great sources when it comes to identifying your strongest and most unique qualities. Remember, a degree alone won’t set you apart, but a toolbox full of unique items will.
The single biggest mistake people make is that they either brand themselves just for the sake of doing it; or they fail to see the value from investing in building a strong brand foundation, before rushing into marketing and advertising. By investing the time and resources on effectively branding yourself, you will attract the right opportunities.
Brilliant brand positioning takes into account the oversights, shortcomings and mundane attributes of your competition. If other massage therapists seem unable to talk ‘the body’ without loads of technical jargon, that’s an opportunity to position yourself as practical, friendly, and unassuming.
If you gravitate towards athletes, kids, or the elderly, your positioning will start to reflect that. If your demeanour, tone and output contradict the way you are trying to position yourself; your Brand positioning will falter. Make sure you are consistent and true to your position or you’ll end up miles away from where you want to be.
To Specialize or not to Specialize?
You may think specialization is the answer, particularly if we acknowledge the importance of being unique. Generalists are favoured if you are multi-talented, or accomplished in a few different fields. An example would be; Suzy is a massage therapist that speaks five languages. This will immediately differentiate Suzy from her competitors, even if it does not strictly relate to the work that Suzy does.
On the other hand, you are best suited as a Specialist if there’s a target audience that’s looking for your unique service. So, in order to sustain your business to your smaller niche target market, you will need to capture a larger share of the targeted audience. To do that, you need to be among the best at what you specialize in — if not the best.
Whether or not you choose to specialize should depend on an honest assessment of your skills and the kind of goals you’re working towards. If you’re considering specializing, use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to research your market and check whether people are looking for the service or product you’re thinking of offering.
Find the balance between being transparent, yet protecting your professional reputation and marketability. Avoid coming off as fake, insincere, or simply out for your own personal gain.
You also have to be open. In today’s world, marketing is a two-way conversation, so you must be open to feedback, open to criticism, but most importantly, open with your content.
While being transparent is important, be aware of the effect of anything that you put out there about yourself, and consider the potential cost to your brand. Being transparent doesn’t necessarily have to mean letting it all hang out.
Get your name out there
Once you have established your brand identity and feel confident in who you are and why you're unique, it’s time to showcase you to the world!
Be aware of your personal brand, both offline and online. Develop a social media strategy, set goals, and be dedicated. Don’t be fooled by the myth that if you build it, they will come. Unless you’re extremely lucky, you’ll have to actually spend time communicating your brand to others.
To be successful at marketing your brand today, you should think about the 4 C’s:
- Content– the creation of a steady stream of engaging content.
- Connection– connecting with the audience you wish to attract.
- Communication– communicating with them in an ongoing conversation.
- Conversion– and then converting them at the illusive moment of need.
There’s nothing wrong with self-promotion to build your brand/reputation, but that’s not the primary focus of Social Media today. If you really want people to listen to you and care about what you’re saying or the service you offer, be someone who focuses more on providing useful information, and featuring others in your industry or community. People will pre-qualify you before they take the next step, and to do that they need more information than just your “sweet deal” or contact information.
The social online world is the same as in person, so you need to follow the same rules of engagement: learn to listen (start a discussion) and earn the right to be heard (share your expertise and tools).
Social media impressions are very important so be invariable in your messaging, and always be transparent, it creates authenticity. Create a succinct tone for your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles, your email signature, blog and promotional materials — your messaging can have a huge impact on your professional image.
You can also monitor your personal brand name across the web with Google Alerts, a free tool which sends e-mail updates about a topic or phrase that you choose.
With focus, and a well developed brand strategy, you will have set the foundation and mapped out the path to becoming a successful personal Brand. There’s no better time than the present to get started!