“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: "Me, Inc." To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” - Tom Peters
Personal branding. It is a concept summed up perfectly by Tom Peters when he introduced the idea of being the CEO of Me, Inc. Your personal brand is the only brand that is guaranteed to stay with you throughout your entire career, going with you from job to job, company to company, serving as one of the few aspects of your professional attributes that you can control.
Because we are the drivers behind getting our personal brand to where we want it to go, taking ownership should be near the top of any professional’s priority list. However, for some reason, this is often not the case. Often we rely too much on others to shape OUR brand, which is akin to allowing them to choose your hairstyle.
Maximizing your personal brand is ensuring that you are putting your best foot forward with each interaction and maximizing the impact it will have on your day-to-day life. Here are five tips on achieving success in establishing your personal brand:
Understand the connection between a company’s branding efforts and your own.
There are similarities between establishing a personal brand and a company establishing their brand, so why try and reinvent the wheel?
From setting up a strategic direction to brainstorming ideas about how to get the message of their brand to an audience, personal branding can take a page or two out of the company brand playbook to be successful.
Decide what your brand is, and commit to it.
As author Dan Schawbel says, “Don’t try to be all things to all people—that’s like applying for 1,000 jobs, which just doesn’t work.” Commit to what fits you best and what makes your brand the strongest.
There are a lot of people fighting for attention, and one of the worst mistakes you can make is to try and blend in with the group. Find what makes you stand out and center all of your branding around that.
- Look around and take inventory of everything in your life that is a contributing factor.
Your personal and professional manner, your online presence, your outward appearance (including your haircut), and your ability to interact with others are all good items to examine.
For instance, in today’s online and digitally-focused world, your presence on social media sites can become an issue if you are careless about what is posted. Coarse and improper messages, “bashing” of former (or current) employers and inappropriate images all make up your digital footprint. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t want your grandmother or your boss to see what you’re posting, then don’t do it.
- Never underestimate your actions.
Just as you should look at your past actions, be sure that once you’ve established your personal brand, you keep in mind what you do each day and how it is impacting that brand, both positively and negatively.
This includes getting out and in front of people who can make a positive impact on your brand – be active and participate in groups, meetings, anything that gets you face-to-face contact with these people and helps grow who you are and what you are capable of doing.
- Don’t just hear – listen.
The first part of this is to ask questions – don’t be afraid to ask for advice, for help, or just to pick someone’s brain when it comes to furthering your personal brand. If there is something you don’t know that is preventing you from getting where you want to be, be proactive and search out the answer.
Then, when you have people talking to you, really listen to what they have to say. Don’t just wait for the answer you wanted to hear then tune out. Some of the best advice you’ll ever receive is the advice you get when you least expect it.
Addison Whitney is a global branding firm with a passion for building strong brands. We specialize in verbal and visual branding, brand strategy and market research.
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