Imagine yourself as a living brand.
What makes you unique or different from everyone else? What are the keywords that come to mind when people speak about you when you are not in the room? What do you want to be known for? How are you adding value to the world? Your personal brand is basically a sum total of every aspect of your personality and communication. Your personal brand is what you stand for, what makes you stand out and what makes you compelling to the world.
A simple formula sums it up: how you look + how you act + how you speak = your personal brand.
To create and build a clear personal brand, here are a couple of steps that you need to undertake:
1. Define why you need a personal brand
Are you looking to grow in an organization? Are you looking at becoming a thought leader? Does your organization mirror your brand and this will help your business grow? Do you want to be known for a specialized expertise in your field? Are you looking to stand out and be noticed? Are you going to become an author or speaker eventually? Do you just want to be respected and known as an expert?
Once you define your vision and goals, it’s a lot easier to carve out a path to achieving this.
2. Realize you are a brand
Understand that you are a living brand, and once this concept kicks in, it’s a lot easier to create your brand. The rules of branding apply almost exactly like it does to an FMCG brand in most cases. You first need a USP, a target audience and you have to apply this unique voice across every touch point of interaction with your target audience.
3. Define your brand DNA clearly
What do you want people to say about you? What keywords define you and set you apart? What are your areas of expertise? What are you better at than most people you know? What do colleagues and friends say set you apart from everyone else they know? What can you choose to be a visionary or pioneer in?
Write out your brand persona clearly defining how you want people to describe you when you aren't with them.
4. Define your target audience
Are you connecting with clients? Are you looking at making a difference in your field of experience? Are you looking at changing the world and need a larger geographical exposure? Do you also want to be noticed by the competition?
Defining the specific audience will allow you to clarify the mediums to use and also tone of voice to approach it with.
What are you going to become a champion on? Do you have the relevant expertise? Is there a gap you need to address? Are there multiple aspects you want to be known for or just one clear subject that will form your brand?
Once you list the aspects of your persona, build competence and sources that can allow you the expertise. Do a course or read more if required, constantly uplift and be abreast of the latest trends and be ahead of the curve in your area of choice. Follow thought leaders on social media channel and benchmarks ideas worldwide.
6. Prepare all your mediums of communication
Create your own personal website or blog which will allow you to share original content and thoughts. Focus on your area of expertise and build content that can be shared. Nothing beats original content that has your strong views and opinions and can inspire and influence someone else. Get onto social media platforms that can easily access your chosen target audience. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook and a host of platforms allow you direct access to anyone in the world. Choose what you can chew, and own the medium!
7. Ensure that you are being heard
Just having presence on digital platforms is never enough. You need to allow your thoughts to reach as many people. It’s very easy on blog sites like WordPress to build your own SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and build tags that reach the right people. Using the right hash tags on social media and sharing it in the right circles are as important. It is also important to study what works and constantly tweak content based on the traction it gets. You will notice a trend eventually of what is read, what is shared and what is ignored.
Keep the tone as per your brand DNA and be consistent. Remember everything you share is you.
8. Understand the science of word of mouth
Word of mouth is the single most important ingredient in building a personal brand. Based on your brand DNA, there needs to reason for people to talk about you. Besides building credibility and integrity to your thought leadership, you need to have reasons that become word of mouth catalysts. If you haven’t found reasons to be spoken about, you haven’t built a credible thought leadership position yet.
9. Build networks and influence groups
Think of how you can grow your networks. Are you already part of any relevant networks in your area of expertise? How many new influencers are you meeting every week? Are the relations you make in these networks transactional or real relationships where you are impacting them? Are you engaging deeply and making a difference in their lives or of the networks? Are you building credibility or are you just being seen?
Remember that as important as it is to grow your network, it is more important to architect long-standing relations, and not just collecting business cards.
10. Is your personal branding exercise meeting your goals?
Finally, it is important to remember, that personal branding should work towards a goal. The idea is not to win a popularity contest; it is to impact your life through a defined goal. Over time and your efforts are you meeting the reason why you embarked on building your brand? Was your goal business led? Were you looking at just assuming thought leadership?
Focus on the result you want, and enjoy building your brand!