A business or a professional should aspire to become a brand. Branding is what segregates the ordinary and the extraordinary. There are certain myths and realities pertaining to branding. Many tend to bask in the myths and some believe branding to be the solution to all problems. While that may be an exaggeration, yet one cannot refute the fact that branding is one of the cornerstones of success.
Let us first shed some light on what we actually mean when we talk about personal branding and then we would talk about strategies.
What is Personal Branding?
Simply put, a brand is any entity that is recognizable, somewhat popular, certainly credible, an integral part of the public discourse in a given niche and it is regarded as the best in the specific vertical or domain. Many people equate branding with an image, trademark, revenue, profit, size of the company and several such markers that otherwise speak of a company’s success. These are just the manifestations. Branding, be it for a company or for an individual, is more psychological than physical.
A brand is an entity that installs trust, has established its superiority in a given domain and it doesn’t have to introduce itself. It evokes the desired response by the very mention of a name, trademark or whenever there is some form of communication from the entity.
Personal branding is similar to business branding in a way. Just as you are well aware of brands like Nike, Pepsi, Intel, Apple, Ferrari, McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Starbucks among others, people are also aware of Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg among others. When we mention these names, you may equate personal branding with popularity but it has more to do with expertise. Popularity is just a by-product. Had Richard Branson failed in his numerous entrepreneurial ventures, he wouldn’t be considered to be one of the greats, let aside being popular. One wouldn’t ask Warren Buffett about his views on the summer blockbusters but one would certainly ask him if China’s policies pertaining to its currency would have a chain reaction in the global stock indices. No one expects Bill Gates to come up with a ground-breaking operating system anymore but he has become an amazing personal brand championing human rights, right to live or healthcare and poverty alleviation.
As you may have observed, personal branding is more about positioning yourself exactly where you want to be and how you want others to perceive you. It is not about undisputed popularity, just riches or simple stats. It is about a following that you have, which will establish you as a serious player in any given niche that you specialize in.
How to Improve Personal Branding?
Personal branding can help you to grow your influence, in relevant networks or circles and in the public discourse. It can make you a serious player in the larger scheme of things. As an individual or professional, you would be more confident, you would be able to capitalize on your personal brand value and monetizing that alone can make you rich. You can create the necessary connect with your target audience and you would be able to take leaps that were erstwhile impossible or difficult. You can outdo your competition and keep doing things that you like, knowing that you have your following backing you up.
But first, you need to develop a personal brand and it must be effective.
- You need to establish yourself as an entity. Personal branding doesn’t always have to be about you and thus doesn’t have to pertain to your name. Apple became synonymous with Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook became the same entity for most people. Personal branding and company branding go hand in hand. Hence, you need to come up with an interesting and compelling logo, a tagline that moves people and you must work on how you present your entity to the public, right from the website to its various correspondences and even the one way communications. You should have a trademark. Don’t come up with random names. Get your trademark or business name registered. Copyright your logo. Don’t opt for templates. Invest some effort, ransack your mind, brainstorm and come up with a truly unique logo that will trigger the imagination of the people and help them to remember who you are.
- As you may have realized by now, branding is not just popularity. It is an assurance of a certain experience and it is reiteration of the fact that you are good at what you do. Personal branding should be focused on your specialization and how that can be helpful for your target audience. Hence, all your personal branding strategies must convey this message. Your logo or the trademark must be suggestive that your target audience will be encountering a certain pleasant and rewarding experience. All your messages must be meaningful and they must make people optimistic or assured of the quality of service or product that they would sign up for.
- Once you have come up with the manifestations of your entity, including the logo, trademark and website, it is time to reach out to people. Personal branding is entirely dependent on the outreach you have. There are many rich and successful people, who are well known in their circles but who you are completely unaware of. These people don’t market themselves. Perhaps they don’t need to but sans exposure you cannot become a personal brand. Hence, you have to be visible, your brand has to be visible and whatever you do, say or stand for must be in the public discourse, not on any alternative platform but mainstream mediums. From social media to professional networks, online marketing to associations you are a part of, everything should be worked on to establish your entity as a great brand.
- To improve personal branding, you have to focus on values and you need stick to then. Whether it is cultural or social responsibilities of an enterprise or personal commitments to noble causes, principles that govern an enterprise or righteous standpoints taken at crucial junctures, personal branding is as much about values as it is about exposure, popularity and revenues.