Personal Branding and its Key Elements
For years, I had never understood the meaning of personal branding the way I do today. I always believed brands came with products; that they came with businesses. People buy things and become regular users because of the value they attach to the product, the name, and the reputation the name earns over time. But people? Why branding for people?
If you look back at people 20 years ago, there was no need to “build” a personal brand. It came naturally with the work people did, with the relations they nurtured and with the trust they instilled in others.
Honestly, the way people see things has changed a lot over the years. Nobody wants to know you, unless there’s something interesting to know. There’s hardly a need to build relationships if there’s nothing the other person can benefit you with. People are busy, and only want to associate with those worthy of their time. Or it may be that they’ve trusted others and did not achieve the expected, so they became fussy about it. Or both. Hence the need for creating a personal brand.
When I talk about creating a personal brand, I do not literally mean creating. Each one of us is born with a brand. There will always be something unique about you. Your way of walking, talking, the kind of clothes you wear, your voice, your smile, your habits, anything. It is something unique, something that defines you, something that people notice about you and remember over time. And personal branding elevates that unique quality in you, makes it visible to the world, and helps you achieve goals with it.
A brand is a reason to choose; whether it’s your business over others, or yourself over other people. It does not really mean a logo, a business card, or a website. It is, rather, an experience others have with you. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com says, ‘Your brand is what people talk about to each other when you’re not in the room.’ Yes, people talk about what they see in you; about why to choose you over your competitors or why to never come to you.
How to create a brand is completely up to you. It is how you want others to see you, what you want others to see in you, what strengths to show and what flaws to hide. No person can ever be perfect. And nobody expects a perfect you, they just want to see the best you have. Branding is just a trick to hide as many flaws and highlight as many strengths in yourself as possible.
Personal branding has a few important elements to look after. When you want people to know you, it is important that they know the best in you, believe in it, and, most importantly, that your image does not wobble.
Be the true yourself
It’s not going to help if you start off with a ‘fake’ image. If you are not willing to let the world know who you really are, chances are, you don’t like the way you are to begin with. If you like who you are, there should be no problem telling people who you really are. The thing about personal branding is that you need to maintain it for the rest of your life. How far can you stretch a fake image? It is not possible to carry it off very long.
Have a consistent approach
An image takes time to build. People like folks who are reliable; people who don’t oscillate. It is important that people see what you intend to show them. Your actions and your personality should be in sync with your words. If there’s a mismatch, how is anyone going to understand who you really are, and which person to trust or look up to? Is it the person you said you are, or is it the person you appear to be? Watch what you say about yourself, and stick to it.
Be socially active
You do not build an image for yourself only. There is a distinct reason behind personal branding. You want others to know you, distinguish you from others, and choose to do business with you. There’s no point keeping your brand to yourself. There are typically two ways you can socialize; through social media, and by networking. Interacting with more people only builds a stronger network, makes you socially more evident, and adds those extra points to the brand you strive to develop.
Showcase your strengths
Your personal brand is all about your specialties. You don’t want to be recognized by your flaws and talked about it in public. Why would anybody come to you if they don’t see good things in you? An important part of personal branding is to show the world what you’re good at and make them realize that you’re an expert in your field. People should be able to come back to you, and only you. That’s how professional you should look.
Make the most of it
What’s the use of a brand that does not fetch you any business? You have not spent years building an image for yourself, without wanting it to benefit you. Personal branding is the way people perceive you. It helps you build trust, build business relations, and come across as a professional expert. Once you’ve created it, it’s time to make the most of it, use it tactfully for growing your business, and stand out from the crowd.
Humans are genetically wired to notice differences, and differences are often what attract people to your brand.
How you look + How you speak + How you act = Your Personal Brand!
A strong, consistent brand, built up steadily over time, is the best guarantee of future earnings.