Published in 1997, an article by writer Tom Peters, The Brand Called You, sparked a debate around personal branding. Some perceived it as an egocentric concept, precariously balancing on the verge of vanity. Others saw it as future entrepreneurship, leadership, and even employment. As twenty years flew by, it became obvious that the latter got it right.
According to Mary Allen, personal development coach and author of “The Power of Inner Choice”, personal branding has never stood close to showing off. Its core is comprised of understanding who you are, what you stand for and how you can help others. By building your own brand, you simultaneously create an opportunity for other people to contact you. It assists in the process of finding new clients and referrals as well as building networks of mutually valued resources.
Crafting a good personal brand is a challenging task (and crafting a bad one is, well, pointless). Here are some nuggets of wisdom on how to rock in personal branding.
You probably already have a brand
Whether you want it or not, social media profiles build up your personal brand. Considering the pressing importance of personal branding, you should keep an eye on your social image. Even if you are not a business owner and never plan to become one, according to Mary Allen, your presence on Facebook or Twitter means that you are already a brand.
As soon as you realize the importance of your social media profiles, take a good hard look at them and shave off everything that doesn’t live up to your brand image. Your profile picture and photo gallery should be handpicked and preferably remain the same throughout different social channels. Your name and email address should correspond to your business role, not mirror your sympathies for the Game of Thrones characters. Consistency is the key.
Although consistency is a good thing for your brand, Mary Allen believes that authenticity is also incredibly smart.
By building your own brand, you simultaneously create an opportunity for other people to contact you.
Let’s say you’re an expert in nutrition and have a long-standing habit of sharing articles about diets, vitamins, and health. It’s a great way for you contribute to consistent brand building. The risk is getting carried away, ending up with a shallow and artificial image. By fostering only one side of your personality you limit not only your brand but actually, make it more challenging for your audience to relate to you personally. What you should do instead is nuance your communication. Try intermingling insights about your loved ones, talk about when you last indulged in a triple fudge milkshake. Post that photo of you relaxing with your family by the pool & tell everyone how touched you were whilst watching Moonlight (damn it La La Land, Moonlight deserved that Oscar)! And we’ll feel like we really know you. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust.
Being both consistent and authentic might sometimes turn into a love-hate relationship—but then again, it might turn into something purely wonderful. No one said that building a brand is easy, so you should learn how to strike balance.
Offer something unique
Once you have polished your social media profiles to impeccability, the time has ripened for offering something new and unique. Try to think of your own personal “unique selling point” on the great social network scene. What are you offering and how do you differ from your competitors (and we all have those—even on a personal level)? Maybe you’re a killer shopping addict? A business consultant? Even an unsung galactic savior (for now)? Whatever your passion is, ensure that you have a strong plan and don’t hop from one train of action to another.
Although consistency is a good thing for your brand, authenticity is also incredibly smart.
If you want to see your brand blossom, you should learn to be regular (not ordinary) in your posts. This is what you call discipline. Set up a schedule for your content with relatively short periods of social silence and—even more importantly—stick to it. Try to not skip your posting days, but don’t cram all your post into one day to make up for the couple you’ve missed.
Distinguish between branding and boasting
According to Mary Allen, modern personal branding is sometimes perceived as boastful, but such attitudes will still sneak in sometimes. After all, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. A healthy dose of humility is good for every brand, but that doesn’t mean you should minimize or not share your wins or expertise openly and authentically.
“I’m sure there are lots of times when sharing a win is perceived as boasting. But I like to think of everything I’m sharing as “a matter of fact”—Mary Allen goes on—Whether you just received an exclusive award or closed a successful deal, these are milestones in your business life and there is nothing wrong in sharing them.”
The whole thing comes down to the fact that personal branding is about balance. It reflects the full spectrum of your humanity—strengths, weaknesses, passions, feelings, and all the things that make you unique. Make sure you blend them wisely to produce your ideal brand cocktail.