Whether you like it or not, you are a brand.
Indeed, whether you are employee or employer, a worker bee or out of work, a small entrepreneur or the big boss, you are a brand. You are a brand as much as McDonalds is a brand.
You are a brand even if you don’t think you are. Think about it – just what is a brand? Essentially, a brand is what people think of when they think of a business. It is that business’ promise, products, slogan, values, personality, and uniqueness all rolled into one. That is their brand, and that is your brand.
Most people have a personal brand by default…
What do you think of when you think of McDonalds? Probably a cheap, family friendly place to get burgers. What about Nike? Just do it! What about Starbucks? A cool, comfortable place to hang out and get spendy coffees.
Now, in terms of work, what do people think of then they think about you? Whatever it is, that is your brand. Most people have a personal brand by default, and only a few by design, but let me suggest that in this hyper-connected, social media loving, share-everything world, if you don’t have a personal brand by design, you are making a big mistake.
Your brand can and should be that thing that distinguishes you and makes you stand out above the crowd. Are you the best trouble-shooter around? Are you a solopreneur who offers exceptional service? Do you bring projects in on time and under budget? Are you the top salesman in your district? Whatever it is, whatever you offer that is that one thing that makes you better than the rest, that is the thing to hang your hat on and build your brand around.
To begin, you may want to pick up a great book on the subject that came out a few years ago: The Brand Called You, by Peter Montoya and Tim Vandehey. In it, the authors explain how this idea of personal branding works and share actual stories of people who have created one very effectively.
One thing they point out is that, especially for small business people, the idea of personal branding is extra important. The reason is that people like people. People tend to trust individuals more than more distant, formal corporate entities. As such, by co-branding your business with yourself, you offer people a warm, inviting, personal experience of your business.
Moreover, having a unique, distinguishing personal brand is a great way to increase your value, make more money, and to be taken more seriously. People trust brands and pay more for brands. By creating a name and brand for yourself, you set yourself apart from your colleagues and competitors.
So how do you create that exceptional brand for yourself and/or your business? Here are 3 steps:
1. Personal assessment: All of the above should help you analyze and figure out what to build your brand around.
2. Focus on that: in all ways that you work, have your desired brand become a key part. For instance, if you are a graphic artist who is less expensive, be sure to highlight that on your website, in your pitches and proposals, and in the projects that you do. The same is true if you work for someone else – begin to sharpen your career towards that unique branding angle of yours.
3. Get the word out: One of the best things about social media is that it cuts out the middleman; you can portray to the world exactly what it is that you desire. So do that. Tweet relevant articles. Get relevant followers. Post pertinent tips. Share important facts about what you do.
Build the most important brand there is, the brand called you!