When you think of Apple, Facebook, Audi or any other company, what do they all have in common? They are all brands! Some world-renowned, some highly known on a national and regional level, and some not as recognizable, but they are all their own entities with a face, a reputation, and something to offer.
Until the recent years, when we thought of brands we automatically turned our attention to the image of huge companies who were making a difference in the business world and influencing markets, lifestyles, and even cultures. We never really considered athletes, celebrities, businessmen and women and even ourselves as brands. But as of late, our perception of brands is starting to shift. We all as individuals, very alike companies, have our own face, reputation and something to offer. We are starting to recognize that in fact, we are all our own brands. In today’s competitive world it is important to embrace this idea, after all, whether you’re working for yourself, run a company or you’re in or looking for employment, to be successful you have to sell yourself! Becoming a brand helps you do that.
Creating and nurturing your personal brand can help you professionally in many ways. It can help you build your reputation, grow relationships, create new networks and become recognized in the industry. Take any celebrity as an example, they have a name that is recognized, they have a reputation and they have their unique brand proposition. The way that public portrays them is based on their purposeful (or sometimes not) actions, their publicity, and their offering. Ed Sheeran, for example, is a world-renowned singer, with a reputation for being an amazing performer and songwriter. Consequently, his brand is highly recognized in the music world, which creates demand for his services. There are many more examples out in the world of amazing personal brands, but it would take me too long to go through all of them.
However, if you’re interested in developing your own image, below I included some useful tips for starting with your personal brand.
Tip 1: The picture you paint.
When creating your own brand, you have to first determine how you want people to see you. Let’s imagine for a minute you’re a freelance photographer who takes wedding photos. You probably want to be seen as an artist who knows how to capture beautiful moments with a click of a button, take photos that tell stories and communicate emotions. In addition, you want to be known as someone who is reliable, creative and can deliver on their promises. You don’t want to be branded as someone who takes sloppy photos, comes to the wedding half hour late and takes a lot of time to deliver the finished product. Such actions will only hurt your reputation and your brand. Those are the kind of things you have to consider before you start.
So how do you want to be seen? What image do you want to exhibit? And now the tricky part – how are you actually going to do it? As a brand, you have to set out some standards. You need to communicate them when you’re selling yourself, build expectations and ultimately deliver on your promises.
Tip 2: Good and bad.
Developing a personal brand requires some reflection time. You need to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. These strengths are going to become your selling points and can be included in your brand proposition. As for weaknesses, those are going to be your areas for improvement. You should know your skills so that you can target the right professional and development opportunities for you as a brand.
Figuring out what you’re good at and what you need to improve is not always the easiest task. However, you have your friends and family to help you. It’s as easy as asking, what people think you do well. The more people you ask, the more strengths and weaknesses you will notice. You might even learn something new about yourself!
Tip 3: Do you.
Be you, do you. When you create your own brand, you have to be genuine. That is the only way people will trust you and engage with you. Pretending to be something or someone you’re not can be very short-lived and have a negative effect on your brand. When building your brand or acting under it, you have to always make sure you adhere to your brand’s standards and its image. Through being yourself and being genuine you have to build and maintain a brand image people want to work and be associated with.
Tip 4: Communicate your knowledge.
When you develop your personal brand, you need to take some action. One great way of doing this is sharing your knowledge with all of your connections. If you have learned something, share it. People will appreciate it, it will draw their attention to you and you will seem knowledgeable and confided to talk about a given topic.
Additionally, sharing free content can generate exposure and leads for you as a brand that in time can (hopefully) turn into profit.
Tip 5: Grow exposure.
In order to create a successful brand, you have to make yourself visible. You have to put yourself out there in the world with everyone else and fight for your spot on the market. You need to find your voice and communicate it. Whether you create blog posts, YouTube videos, Snapchat or Instagram stories, you have to figure out your own way of connecting with people and growing your professional network. The more you make yourself visible, the more your network is going to grow and engage with you. Your brand will be more recognized, and you’ll build demand for your services. The key to gaining exposure is content!
As our perceptions and professional demands change, the idea of personal brands becomes more and more prominent and valuable. There are many steps to creating successful personal brands. This article outlines few of the first steps you can take to kick-start the development of your own brand and image.