Building Your Personal Brand: Defining Your Brand
Building Your Personal Brand
Part 1: Defining Your Brand
| You May not have majored in marketing, but you do it every day.
When you think of the word “brand”, you might often think of your favorite shoe or clothing retailer, digital influencer, or even your favorite sports team. And though all of those things are certainly public, corporate brands, have you ever thought about your personal brand? Every day we wake up we build and add to our personal brand, and it does not have anything to do with selling product or services. Even if that is your job (as it is mine) what makes you unmistakably you goes far beyond your occupation. Let’s define a “personal brand” first:
“Personal branding is the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image in the mind of others about a person, group or organization.”
Taken in the context of business, successful examples of this include celebrities like the Kardashian/Jenner crew, Oprah Winfrey and influencer/bloggers like @Tezza, @krystal_bick who literally have turned their name into money. Their name, and therefore their person, is their business. But there is also an element outside of jobs that rounds out our perception of people, groups and organizations. The idea is to build association. When you think Oprah, you think talk shows, philanthropy and perseverance. When you think Meghan Markle, you think approachable, stylish, royalty. Will Smith = father, motivator, forward thinker. And thinking outside of her tour dates Beyoncé is synonymous with being outspoken, feminist, and creative.
The importance of such is great enough that laws and statues are in place to protect those perceptions. Ever wonder why “slander” and “defamation of character” are legally actionable misdemeanors? Celebrities and executive businesses hire PR firms that specialize in crisis management when faced with a public perception disaster (I’m looking at you Gucci). Because how you are perceived by others is one of the single most important aspects in life, both professionally and personally. At this point you may be thinking “That’s all fine and good for millionaires and billionaires whose name is actually their business, but does it apply to the rest of us?”
While working with my peers, having conversations with other young professionals and even in discussions with my direct superiors, a compliment I often receive is that I’m so polished, professional and reliable. Those are excellent attributes and are pieces of my professional, personal brand that I am grateful to have established. But it also made me think that if someone is vocalizing this compliment, they may not be seeing this in other people…so I began to observe. It seems as though the millennial generation especially gets so caught up in ourselves, what we want, when we want it, that we often fall short of establishing ourselves as someone who deserves/has earned those things we want. Somehow, this seems to have come back to entitlement?
I think you know where this is going…
Day in and out, every moment you spend in front of the eyes and/or ears of another person, you are contributing to your personal brand. If your boss, co-workers, new love affair, best friend were to describe you, those are the words you have built about yourself in one respect or another. All of the external and physical attributes apply: your style, pitch of your voice, body language, fragrance and everything else that relies on the senses. But even further (and perhaps more importantly), what comes out of your mouth, the way you treat people, your actions, reactions, and contributions lay the foundation for your trademark. Finding your voice and creating your signature is both conscious and involuntary, as our primal reactions to situations can and will show through at times, and can also be influenced by factors outside of your control. And it all starts with decided what perceptions you want to instill in the minds of others about you every day. So in the first part of the personal brand series (which I didn’t anticipate being a series until I started writing this blog post), we’ll talk about some tips in outlining and defining your individual trademark.
Ask Others to Describe You | To understand where you want your personal brand to go, you have to understand where you are so taking a poll is the best way to understand where you are. If you are happy with some or all of the words people use, you are already in a great spot and can begin thinking about what else you’d like to add to that list. If you are not so happy, there’s some work to do in turning those around, and that’s alright.
Find Someone You Admire | List a few people you look up to and are inspired by, then describe their perceived character in 3-4 words. Narrow it down to the top few words for which you would also like to be identified to add framework to what you want to show to the world.
Think Where You Want to Go | Think of your future goals both professionally and personally and name the key attributes of the ideal candidate for that goal’s success. Will you need to be punctual, organized, flexible, fun-loving, creative, a leader, disciplined, collaborative?
Building your personal brand is key to establishing yourself within an organization, a group of friends or early in any relationship. It’s a time when people build trust and can come to rely on you for the attributes for which you portray. What do you want your name to say about you? I would love to hear them below!