3 Things a Personal Brand Gives You Personal branding is about visibility, portability and a platform.
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I work with founders and CEOs from across the globe helping them build unique and strong personal brands through my personal branding agency. When we start our work together, one of the first questions I ask them is, "Why?" I want to know why they are building a personal brand, which — albeit exciting at times — is nonetheless time-consuming and occasionally mentally taxing. The replies I get vary in specificity and length, but they can all be grouped into three main categories. What a personal brand gives you is ultimately visibility, portability and a platform.
The goal of personal branding is for you to position yourself as an expert, thought leader or influencer in the minds of your target audience. As you self-market, the size of the audience grows, giving you visibility as a result. Depending on your goals, the visibility can serve a variety of purposes, helping you attract clients, career opportunities, the desired promotion (at times, internal visibility is as valuable as external visibility) and opportunities you perhaps never even thought of or aimed to attract.
There is, of course, a negative side to heightened visibility and it is something that our clients often worry about. With a spike in the number of people attracted to your brand, there is likely to be an increase in the number of people who not only dislike you but also make sure to inform you of that. We most commonly refer to them as "haters" or as "keyboard worriers," but no matter what you call them, the daggers they throw tend to bruise.
Most recently, a client of ours shared a heartwarming post on LinkedIn supporting a Canadian Olympian who was on the receiving end of much criticism. The post went viral, being viewed by nearly two million and resulting in engagement among thousands of people.
The outpouring of love towards the hero of the post — and our client as the storyteller — was remarkable. And yet even among all the love and support, some chose to through daggers: fact-checking, critiquing and at times simply unleashing their negativity. Our client took it to heart, responding to every single comment and staying true to his brand of a caring and thoughtful individual, believing that even the "haters" deserved respect.
Often, the negative side of visibility is what stops people from putting themselves out there. To that, we remind them that the "haters" may stand out when you care about public opinion, but in reality, they are truly few and far in between. Most of us out there support, encourage or simply keep scrolling when we don't agree.
Your brand gives you equity. Your brand builds personal brand equity over time and that equity gives you portability. Whether we are employed by an organization or self-employed, our paths are not linear. Life throws us curveballs and we pivot more than we could expect. A personal brand gives you portability, whether you need it for career transition or post-exit as an entrepreneur.
And here is where most people get personal branding wrong. Most people believe that building a personal brand means creating content about their area of expertise, and that is a mistake. A true personal brand needs to be built around who you are, not what to do. This and only this will give it portability.
If you build your brand around the essence of who you are (your unique characteristics, your core values, your beliefs, your personality and what you stand for), your brand will not and should not change when you pivot. You see, what you do is important because it will help position your expertise, but it is not your brand. Rather, it is one of your talking points.
Let me give you an example. The personal branding concept we developed for one of our clients is "circularity entrepreneur." Our client is a business coach today, but who he truly is can be described as a passionate believer in the importance of combining 3 P's in our business operations: people, profit, planet.
He is a businessman who dreams of leaving the world a better place for his daughter. He is passionate about circular economy and believes that the concept can be applied beyond the manufacturing world and extended into absolutely any business. Today, he is a business coach and one of his content pillars is the scaling-up methodology as it is what he does. His brand, however, is built around circularity, which is who he is.
The reason I co-founded my personal branding agency and the reason I am so passionate about personal branding is quite simple: I want to help amplify the voices that matter, the voices that must be heard, the voices that can impact, inspire and make the world a better place. What you do with your platform is up to you, but having it brings you straight to the top of Maslow's famous hierarchy of human needs: It allows you to achieve self-actualization, inspire others and make a difference.
A personal brand is increasingly associated with coffee pictures, vacation shots and social media bragging. In reality, personal branding is about visibility that allows you to attract meaningful opportunities, portability that protects you in times of crisis or change and a platform that allows you to live a life of meaning.