The Power of Personal Branding
Personal branding—the practice of educating key decision-makers about your unique value—is more important now than ever. Yet, getting a good grasp of the techniques used to build a personal brand can be tricky. How is a personal brand best created? How does one begin to understand its principles? And where should the line between branding and self-promotion be drawn? We’ve got answers.
This month, we’ll tell you all you need to know about personal branding, providing clear guideposts for you to follow along the way. We’ll help you build a very distinct brand that’s not only impressive and appealing to others, but also indicative of the life you lead.
What is Personal Branding?
Your personal brand is an expression of your trusted reputation. To be effective, it must be built on three core pillars: 1) Value—your worth, what people can always expect from you; 2) Authenticity—evidence of your personality and character; and 3) Influence—the ways in which you cause change. These core pillars in part support an overall brand vision, or what you want your brand to stand for in the eyes of your influencers.
The key principles behind personal branding are not that different from corporate branding. Both are driven by a unique promise of value to a select group of individuals. They have a clear foundation (vision, mission, core values, strategic areas of focus, and strategic goals) on which they operate; they seek to compel, establish credibility, and be memorable. In addition, they have deliberate communication vehicles in place to share content around their strategic value to the key people who matter.
David Aacker, branding expert, in his book Aacker on Branding: 20 Principles that Drive Success Research has shown that brands that have withstood the test of time and that have remained compelling year after year—Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Microsoft and Google, for example— have four core things in common: 1) They offer clear and differentiated benefits to their customers driven by a compelling brand vision; 2) They’ve developed trusted relationship with customers; 3) They have very distinct personalities that are authentic, memorable, and goal-oriented or driven by a higher cause; and 4) They know when, where, and how to talk and listen to their customers by actively managing their brand portfolios and exploring ways to remain relevant.
Google’s overall ambition, for example, is to make the world’s information quickly accessible by users. So far, all their products and services support that overall brand mission.
Why Build A Personal Brand?
Today, businesses offer tremendous opportunities to advance your career. Having a distinct and compelling personal brand will position you to seize those opportunities by ensuring employers understand precisely what you have to offer—across the board.
As the future of work continues to change, some of the bigger developments taking place demand that you act quickly to make an impact on the people that matter most: potential employers and stakeholders. Stiffer competition in the labor market, due to a shift from an employer-based to skills-based market, means that you’re now fighting for work against highly skilled competition based across the globe, far outside of an organization’s zip code. As a result, talent poaching is becoming more common in several companies. A recent article published in the New York Times expressed that the latest battle is amongst tech companies such as Amazon and Oracle for top cloud talents. Due to the increase in globalization and the technology tools used to gather and disseminate information, you have to work harder to be noticed. A complete and thoughtful personal brand will help you do that.
Additionally, many businesses are now striving to provide greater value to their customers and positively affect revenues by taking project-based approaches to ROI. So if a project is not delivering value to an organization’s bottom line, it’s terminated. As a result, project managers, for example, are just one wrong move away from the revolving door of employee turnover.
Finally, the perfect storm of stress created by the collision of technology, globalization and social media hasn’t helped either. Your reputation and worth to potential employers are no longer gauged only by in-person interviews and conversations, or even work success. Today, your value is also determined by your social footprint—what potential employers discover about you online.
The Benefits of Personal Branding
Once you make an impact on decision-makers, and clearly and concisely communicate the unique value you provide, you’ll begin to reap the rewards of your efforts. To that point, here are the top three benefits of building a personal brand:
The essence of personal branding forces you to dig deep and extract the hard skills and unique personality (often called “emotional appeal”) that you bring to the table. Identifying the motivators of both professional and personal success—your core values, passions, vision and purpose— helps you to achieve a greater sense of congruency in your personal and professional lives. You can become really clear on who you are and who you are not.
People don’t become successful because they’re lucky. Accomplished individuals have unique and valuable qualities, strengths and expertise to offer, and they’re able to communicate their worth in compelling and concise ways. Successful people inspire other successful people to be their advocates and take bets on their experience and character to take them to the next level. The market will reward you for the unique value that you bring.
Having a strong personal brand will earn you the respect you deserve and positively affect your future relationships and reputation. In her book titled Presence, Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains that within just the first few seconds of meeting you, an individual evaluates you on two social dimensions: warmth, which speaks to trust; and competence, which is associated with strength. If you are judged highly on both, then that individual is more likely to respect you and cooperate with you, rather than see you as threatening.
Make no mistake about it; your personal brand matters. It gives you an incredible opportunity to show your value, authentic self, and your power of influence in the face of a lot of competition. The strength of your personal brand (or lack thereof) could mean the difference between getting a coveted job offer or a promotion, and being overlooked.
Next time, I’ll focus on how you can stand out by building a compelling personal brand. I’ll also share a four-step framework that you can follow to leave your mark as you move to achieve your career and life dreams.
In the meantime, join me on Thursday, May 12, at 12:00 PM PT/3:00 PM ET for a live webinar Personal Branding (1/3): How to Build a Compelling Personal Brand. In addition to sharing four key tips to keep in mind when building your brand, I’ll provide ideas on how to make every first impression count by pulling your own strings and changing your body language.
Click here to book your spot.