The Importance of your Personal Brand

You are in control of your personal brand if you choose to be. When establishing your brand, it is essential that you define yourself. Remember that perception is reality, so it is essential that you carefully cultivate your image. When you take the time to define yourself and present this definition to the public, your will reap the benefits that come with taking control of your personal branding.

If You Don’t, They Will
It is easy to underestimate the importance of personal branding and avoid actively participating in your brand. The truth, however, is that branding occurs whether you participate in it or not. If you do not take the time to brand yourself, the market will brand you, and it may not do it favorably. Customers can bring negative attention to a company or individual, and attention can easily escalate to the court of public opinion. For example, the video “United Breaks Guitars” brought negative attention to the United Airlines brand. Without personal branding and active intervention, the damage to the brand name could have been beyond repair. Taking control of personal branding is necessary to manage your public reputation.

Brand Mantra
Brand mantras are short, but they are powerful. This short phrase or statement may only be three to five words, but these words define your brand. A mantra must explore the brand’s points of difference or how the brand is unique along with what the company represents. For example take a look at, Nike’s “Authentic Athletic Performance.” In order to create a brand mantra, you must first identify what sets your brand apart and list your points of difference.
Once the points of difference are identified, you must create a mantra that is simple, communicates, and inspires.
Simple: The mantra should be short and to the point.
Communicate: The mantra should define the purpose of the brand and what is unique about it.
Inspire: The mantra should be significant.
When creating a mantra, you should begin with a word bank of points of difference and your purpose and mission.

Be Real
People are attracted to genuine people. The key to personal branding is to make it personal. Communicating dry facts will not impress most people. Your brand must have personality. Develop a persona that attracts people. Share ideas, implement humor, and make connections with people. Having an online presence makes sharing your persona much easier.
When you are developing your persona, remember to be real. You are under no obligation to share personal details about yourself, but everything that you do share must be genuine. Never make up facts, statistics, or tell lies. Fact checking has become easier than ever, and lies will do nothing to improve your brand’s reputation.

SWOT Analysis
In defining yourself, it is helpful to perform a SWOT analysis. By identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you will be able to define your brand and understand what you have to offer. You will also identify areas that need improvement.

Strengths: Strengths are internal characteristics that create a competitive advantage. For example, accounting skills would be a strength.
Weaknesses: Internal weaknesses that need to be improved. Disorganization would be an example of a weakness.
Opportunities: Opportunities are external. There are always opportunities for you to take advantage in the marketplace. Education would be an example of an opportunity.
Threats: External threats cannot be controlled, but they may be addressed in your opportunities. Competition with a more relevant skill set is a threat.

A SWOT analysis will be unique to each person or business. Taking a moment to honestly assess your situation will allow you to complete a personal SWOT analysis.

Defining Yourself
In order to define yourself, you need to know yourself. Identifying your core values, passions, and strengths will help you realize what you need to communicate in your brand. Once you understand what you have to offer, it will be possible to create a brand image that is both honest and positive. Defining yourself will allow others to see you clearly.

Pillars
In branding, your pillars are your main values. They are the attributes that help define your identity. In order to identify your pillars, you must ask yourself what you stand for and what your core values are. Your pillars are not what you have to offer; they explain how you offer what you have. For example, you may offer years of sales experience, but your pillar could be offering an honest and authentic sales experience. Remember that there are no correct or incorrect pillars; they simply need to reflect your core values.
Ask yourself what you stand for and make a list of ideas. Then, choose the main values and link them to what your brand has to offer. It is best to begin branding with one or two pillars. You can always expand in the future.

Passions
Your brand should reflect your passions. Ask yourself the following questions to identify your passions:
• What do you care about?
• What drives you?
• What do you consider your passions?
Remember to list all of your passions, not just the ones that are obviously related to work. If the only passion you communicate is the desire to increase sales, you appear boring and work obsessed. People know that there is more to you than your work. Your brand needs to personalize you to other people, so a passion for art, family, or the environment could only contribute to your brand. You are bound to attract people with similar passions. You can also find ways to incorporate your passions into your work.

Define Your Strengths
Branding requires you to identify your strengths, which you already visited in your SWOT analysis. Your strengths, however, are essential in your branding, so it is important that you do not overlook any of them. It is easy to overlook personal strengths by focusing on desired attributes. Making this mistake can be disastrous and keep you from realizing your potential.
Remember to consider your natural talent when finding your personal strengths. What comes easily to you? What do you do better than other people? Also, consider aspects of your character that are natural strengths. For example, self-control, trustworthiness, and intelligence are all strengths that define you and your brand.

The Three Cs
When establishing your brand, you must remember the three Cs: Clarity, Consistency, and Constancy. Whether you are creating a personal or business brand, you will find the three Cs extremely useful.
Clarity: Your brand needs to be clear about what you do and do not represent. Are you a risk-taker or do you represent stability? Are you creative or analytical? If there is any ambiguity in your branding, you will confuse people and cause disappointment.
Consistency: Once you have clearly established your brand identity, it is important that you remain consistent. Consistency requires that you present yourself in the same light each time you communicate your brand. This consistency needs to be in your stated values and made visible in your actions.
Constancy: Your brand requires constancy, meaning that it is visibly dependable. Once you define your brand, commit to it.

Source: Personal Branding Workshop