Recently I came across an article by one of the online marketers that I greatly admire Neil Patel, I've read lots of Neil's blog post in the past but this one really got me thinking about how personal branding is applicable to me and the business activities I am pursuing. I’ll link the original article at the end of this post if you’d like to read more from his original text.
I hadn’t really thought much about personal branding before, at the end of the day i’m just me and I just do things the way I do them. What I realised was that these behaviours in themselves define the type of business person I am, that in turn reflects into the brands and activities that i’m involved in. Realising that link it becomes obvious that the way my personal brand comes across is an important part of the overall brand image of my businesses.
Looking around to see what other people are doing it is clear that the very successful tend to have very well defined brands, we automatically think of these people in a certain way when they spring to mind. Neil used some good examples, Mark Cuban, Tim Ferriss, and Dan Bilzerian, these are all very different characters but ones you immediately think of in a certain way, (love or hate them). Another very good example of personal branding being very closely linked to the business branding is Richard Branson, his behaviours and ethics are directly linked to how his business culture works and how people perceive Virgin.
What is a Personal Brand?
Well according to the Personal Branding Wiki is it:
Personal branding describes the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal. In this way, individuals can enhance their recognition as experts in their field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.
The term personal brand is believed to have first appeared in the August 1997 issue of Fast Company Magazine, in an article by management guru and author Tom Peters, who wrote, "We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."
Okay so although that may be a bit over the top it does define it quite well, the next question I have to ask myself is what does this mean to me and others in my position and where would I start with trying to define and market my brand.
Who Am I?
That is the first question I need to ask myself, what defines me as a business person? What makes me different from others? Where is the value in how I work to others? The answer to these questions will form the basis of a personal value proposition or PVP.
When you go through this you have to be totally honest with yourself, for your brand to work and be cohesive you need it to be an honest reflection of yourself. Being honest about yourself isn’t easy at times, there are things we all don’t like about ourselves but without acknowledging the good and the bad you won't really know who you are.
Here’s an example of some of the questions I asked myself and the answers I wrote down, this formed the basis of my PVP
When you have this understanding of who you are and what you represent you can begin the challenge of marking yourself to build brand awareness. There is no magic wand to build this up, it takes time and effort to gain the initial momentum. When you have that momentum things become easier but it still takes effort to keep building and raising awareness.
Building a Presence
There are three main starting points for building a personal brand up, one vitally important part to remember is consistency across all three. If you send different messages people will either be confused by who you are or lose trust in your brand all together. The three areas to initially target are:
As mentioned before it’s seriously important to be uniform across these different profiles, you should try and use the same username across them all to make it easy for people to find you and know it’s the real you they have found. Consistency and homogeneity are essential for branding.
The initial effort required to get the ball rolling can be considerable, you need to ensure that you devote enough time to keep regular and value added updates to all of the profiles you have running, letting any get stagnant can have a significantly negative effect on the overall results. Hopefully with some effort you will build a core following of supporters, it is this that will then with effort network out to build a bigger and bigger network. It’s not easy and it’s not fast but it does work and anyone can do it.
Other Ways to Build Your Brand
There are lots of other ways to build your brand, some examples would be:
- Long-form posts where you cover a topic in detail.
- Guest Blogging
There is a World Beyond The Internet
It’s important to remember there is a world outside of the internet, traditional press can be a valuable tool as can old fashioned face to face networking.
Personal branding can be an important part of building legitimacy for your business activities, a strong brand can help open doors that otherwise would have remained closed.
It will take time and effort to build a brand, there is no quick and easy method, when the ball is rolling though it becomes much easier to keep it rolling.
The one vital thing I can’t stress enough is be true to yourself, be honest with yourself and honest with who you are.