Would you like to effortlessly attract more customers, business opportunities or even a new employer?
How about being able to increase your fee or salary? Pick and choose what projects and what people to work with?
The solution is to have a strong and magnetic personal brand. I am sure you have heard about it, but today we’ll look at what it is exactly. However, before we do this, we have to start with understanding just what we mean by a “brand”.
What is a brand?
A brand is the unique experience that people remember about a product or service. We are surrounded by products and services every day, some of them are very similar – you try distinguishing Coke from Pepsi in a blind test.
The reason marketers make use of brands for their product is so they can differentiate the brand from the competition. The goal is to position it as a premium brand so that consumers believe they are enjoying an exclusive product. We all know that adjectives like premium and exclusive are associated with higher cost, that’s what pays for the entire branding exercise.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is the unique promise of value of a person.
Simply put, it’s who you are and what you do – nobody else can be or do the exact same thing. Just like a product, a person can brand themselves to stand apart from the competition.
How can you make it happen for yourself and the world if no ones knows who you really are?
“Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken” – Oscar Wilde
In this day and age, consumers have no problem finding a dentist, plumber or realtor – they find lots of them online and they take their time to shop around. Skills and knowledge have become ubiquitous and commoditized and the value of personal branding becomes more important now than ever.
The person that has taken their time to build an excellent brand for themselves will not only be more visible but should also be able to charge premium rates for their work – a very enviable position to be in.
Also, you have a better chance of making a positve impact on the world if you have a great brand.
Look at business people like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs, their strong brands have given them the Midas touch – effectively turning everything they are involved into gold. But hang on, these guys represent company brands, you say. Yes they certainly do, but imagine Richard Branson selling off Virgin tomorrow and Steve Jobs leaving Apple (again) – do you think they would struggle to find new projects?
Your personal brand works very well alongside a corporate brand and can be the best insurance policy you have ever invested in.
What is Personal Branding?
This is the process of uncovering/creating, building and promoting your brand to your target audience and the greater world.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” – Aristotle
These words from Aristotle certainly apply to personal branding. By going through this process you will have to engage in some serious introspection, the result of which is typically very useful for all aspects of life.
By branding yourself effectively, you ensure that you are no longer the “jack of all trades, master of none”.
The aim is to achieve an expert or leader status in your chosen field. Once you are seen as an expert or the leader, you will attract more business and/or employers. The law of supply and demand stipulates that you will be able to choose who to work with and set your own price or salary.
5 Smart Things You Can Do For Your Personal Brand Today
1. Create a Personal Brand Statement
By taking a step back and examining exactly what value you provide to others, you’ll be able to construct an effective brand statement. It should be no longer than two sentences containing who you are, what value you provide (product or service) and how you do it uniquely (knowing your USPs will facilitate).
The statement represents your personal brands unique promise of value and is distinctive to you only. Once you do have the statement, you can use it to be more focused and targeted in your approach to customers and employers.
An example which just so happens to be mine:
“Jorgen is a Personal Branding Consultant who helps entrepreneurs, business owners and executives build strong online brands to attract more business”.
2. Write a Bio
The longer version of your personal brand statement is called a bio. It’s typically a three paragraph text that outlines who you are, what you do, your skills and experience as well as listing and quantifying your past achievements. Be sure to throw in any awards, mentions in reputable media and personal endorsements at the end as it is proven to attract eyeballs.
Unless you are an executive, author or public speaker you probably haven’t written one of these.
Here’s an example of a good (and slightly abbreviated) bio by Chris Brogan himself:
“Chris Brogan is an eleven year veteran of using social media and both web and mobile technologies to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals. Chris speaks, blogs, writes articles, and makes media of all kinds at [chrisbrogan.com], a blog in the top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150, and in the top 100 on Technorati. He is co-author of the New York Times bestselling book Trust Agents, and the recently released Social Media 101.
3. Achieve Consistency
This is useful to do before you start hitting the market with your new personal brand toolkit. The cardinal sin in personal branding is having an inconsistent image, the typical one being having a rock’n’roll profile on Facebook and an ‘employee-friendly’ one on LinkedIn.
You have to expect to be cross referenced online as Google is at everyone’s fingertips.
Stay congruent in all that you do, whether it’s online or offline communications.
Your target audience needs to know what to they can expect from you. Nobody wants to deal with people that shift characters or are outright unstable so stay consistent at all times.
4. Create a Marketing Strategy
You will now create a marketing mix based on whom you want to reach out to. Look at your target audience, where do they hang out? Do they read a certain magazine, go to a particular events or comment on a handful of blogs?
You have to make sure you are seen there. If you have the time and resources, do it the proper way and conduct a marketing survey.
If you are not that fortunate, just start doing your thing and see what works – the trial and error approach has worked for many a successful person.
5. Promote Yourself
The sprint is over, now begins the marathon!
Once you have your personal brand together and you have created your plan it’s all about keeping it up.
Whether you have decided to blog, to be a public speaker, write books or to attend networking events – make sure you do it regularly and become a reliable and trustworthy part of people’s lives.
This will in turn build up your loyal fan base, the bunch of great people that act as your brand ambassadors and sales force.
Call to Action
There is no time like the present to start your personal branding journey.
Most people only think about their brand when they really need it (e.g. looking for a new job), this will probably be 12 months too late. Building and promoting a strong brand takes time and effort but it’s probably the best investment you can ever make.
You may change industries, move out of the country, take a long sabbatical – but your name and brand will always be with you so make it a good one.
Make yourself memorable.
This is a guest post from Jorgen Sundberg. He is passionate about helping individuals and companies attract more business online by effective use of personal branding, social media marketing and blogging.
Photos courtesy of David Hernández and Daly3d
Thanks for the opportunity to guest post Arvind and great work on the layout and pictures!
Thanks Jorgen for a great post which I know my readers will find very useful.
You certainly walk the talk:-)
‘The sprint is over, now begins the marathon.”
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the bio you highlighted from Chris Brogan mentions his 11 years of experience in Social Media. Real personal branding needs to be genuine and character driven in order to not fall apart after a short period of time.
Sometimes, I think branding is seen as a way to start earning money through putting up an attractive facade that can suck people in. I really appreciated your emphasis on consistency and congruency with our own personal ideals. I’m starting to build my own small brand and am finding it’s actually quite a long and difficult task. Well worth it though.
Thank you for a great post, i really enjoyed reading.
Hi Dave and thanks for the feedback! It’s important to get the personal brand toolkit done (statement, bio, blog etc) and then it’s all about networking and consistently adding value to other people – the law of reciprocity will sort your success out 🙂
I love this article…. here’s my personal brand.. 🙂
I have so much to learn. Thanks, Jorgen and Arvind for keeping the lessons coming. Very inspiring. Bookmarked for future reference. Now, off to go do a few things for my personal brand. You’ll be seeing me.
Thank you Katie and let us know if you have any questions at all!
I think a lot of people (I did) have trouble seeing themselves as a brand. Branding is often associated with companies, corporations etc etc, but the personal branding is so important. I am definitely going to use these ideas – keep an eye out for Kate Irwin – the Brand:)
Hi Kate, yes agreed I did as well a few years back. But times are a-changing and as Dan Pink puts it, one day we’ll all be freelancing in one shape or another and our own brand will determine our price. Good luck with your personal branding journey!
Right on Jorgen! While in university my entrepreneurial marketing professor gave me an article titled Brand You. It changed my life. Right then I began to form my brand of a die hard personal development learner and reader who does all he can through writing, blogging, teaching and interacting to help others find their own path to success. I have loved having something to proudly hang my hat on. Personal branding is all of our most valuable asset, especially in today’s economy. And the congruency is huge with how easy it is to get a deep look into Someone’s life via social media etc. I recently wrote an article title The Beginners Guide to Being Congruent to help others in this direction. A topic that’s very near and dear to me.
Awesome work! Must be an amazing career for you to be in,
Nice thinking Jorgen. I remember reading in the book, ‘Brand You’ that your brand is “what people say about you when you are not in the room”. Which proves that we already are a brand. If you think of someone you know into bikes, New Zealand, making gorgeous waffles or owning a daschund a certain person comes to mind. That and their personality and traits. That’s a living brand. The real challenge is to realise our own brand first and make that compatibale with what we present to the world around us, with our values, and who we choose to be. WE are our own shop window!
Scott & John, thanks for your feedbacks and nice blogs you have!
secret of success
These were very great tips on personal branding Jorgen. The test of a personal brand as you rightly pointed out is consistency. There are many a people who come up with great brands but fail to keep up with the image they have created because they are not consistent. The more people get to see you doing what you claim you wanted to do, the more they start looking forward to seeing you do those things. And when that happens, you can say you have a strong brand equity.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Tito for your feedback – it’s very easy to lose the brand overnight that you may spent years building up.
Here’s to you and me building up our brands:-)
“This is the process of uncovering/creating, building and promoting your brand to your target audience and the greater world.”
I like this quote… it’s as if the personal brand is already there and we, must tease out the finest qualities, like an artist chipping away at a block of marble to create the figurine.
The ancient Roman artists always claimed that the art was already inside the block of stone and they merely took away the parts that were not neeeded.