Whole books have been written about the concept of personal branding. College courses are taught about it. And we’ve talked about it in other articles, especially as it relates to social media. So is there more to be said on this subject? We think it’s important to summarize some key concepts, so you can evaluate your own brand and do whatever it takes to make it work for you.
For starters, you already have a brand. You are known for the way you make things happen for your clients and your business associates — the things people rely on you to deliver. Personal branding connects your strengths, your passions, and your personality in a coherent image. How you present this combination to the public differentiates you from your competition.
Here are five key components of your personal brand:
Vision. You need a clearly stated vision for how you see yourself and your place in the world. Here’s a template you can use to create your vision statement:
I, ___________(insert your name) intend to use my special skills of ______________ (list three or more of your unique talents) to create__________________(list the business and/or personal outcomes you intend to produce.)
Put some thought into this statement. You don’t need to make it public, unless you want to, but it should serve as a guide for how you manage your business and depict your brand.
Values. Your personal beliefs and operating principles are at the core of determining how you manage your business and serve your clients. If you’re living according to your principles, you’ll be happier, more productive, and serve your clients better. Think about three or four words that best describe who you are and the value you offer. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but don’t limit yourself to these:
Collaborator, diplomat, risk-taker, visionary, networker, detail-oriented, imaginative, ethical, accessible.
Strengths. Once you have your key words clearly stated, think about how others see you in the world. In what specific business activities do you shine? What assets make you the designated “go-to” person? What gap would your firm experience if you left suddenly? The possibilities are endless, but here are a few suggestions:
Can you quickly Identify problems? Are you good at seeing the details, doing research, or crunching numbers? Are you a good motivator, mentor, writer or speaker? All these are important qualities that play a role in your branding. (Hint: if you’re stuck just ask yourself, “When clients compliment me, what do they say?”)
Creativity. Creativity isn’t just for artists. It doesn’t mean being wild and crazy or having a reputation as an eccentric. It does mean coming up with new ideas, being open to change. Dare to think differently. Creativity is what will separate you from the competition. People generally notice only what’s different or changed in their environment, so what can you do to get them to notice YOU?
And right here, a disclaimer is necessary. Your logo is not your brand. The typestyle on your business card does not matter. And, a catchy tag line does very little to strengthen your position unless it spells out your competitive edge.
Play this game with yourself. Think of two or three well-known companies—Nordstrom, Starbucks, and Apple, for example. Now think of one word that describes what each of those companies is known for. Then apply that principle to yourself. That’s your brand.
Consistency. When your brand is consistent, it means that you uniformly express your brand across all your communications channels, both online and offline. It means that your Facebook page, your business card, even the way you answer the phone express your core theme. When you host an open house or speak to the local Rotary Club, you’re communicating your brand. It’s all you, all the time.
It takes a lot of work to discover your brand, and it may seem daunting at first, but your efforts will pay off. Having a strong personal brand is invaluable as the competition for clients intensifies on a daily basis. It’s important to invest time in researching, defining, and refining your brand. Your brand is your value proposition, your promise to your clients. It’s the cornerstone of your marketing strategy so take the time to make it good.