A guide to identifying and leveraging your personal brand

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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Whether you like it or not, you are a brand.

Famous brands like Coca-Cola, the Big Mac or the iPhone, elicit an emotional reaction from us. Most people have an opinion – either positive or negative – about each of these.

Celebrities are brands too. This branding is part of their star image and is used to sell film tickets or albums. In addition, stars may leverage their branding and front advertising campaigns for fragrance, watches, coffee and face cream.

Whether we are talking about celebrities or cola, good branding leaves an impression on you.

Your personal branding works the same way.

Think of it like this – your brand is the impression you make on people, what they know about you, and what they think about you.

Why we need personal branding

If the contemporary world has taught us anything, it is that strong personal branding can be a huge asset. Furthermore, the rise of social media has made branding even more important for companies, products and professionals. If you are searchable on the web – and most of us are – you are a brand. If you’re not, well, it is almost as if you don’t exist!

Creating a personal brand isn’t necessarily about “selling” yourself. Instead, it is about projecting a consistent and positive image. It is also about showing others the value you add to the projects you work on.

We are going to show you how to define your brand and what you need to do to ensure it works in your favour.

The elevator speech

The “elevator speech” is a simple exercise to help you define your brand.

An elevator speech is a 15-second statement of who you are and what you do. If you got into a lift with a stranger who asked you what you did, what would you say? Could you answer in a succinct and engaging manner? After the brief time it takes to reach your floor, would the stranger want to hear more?

To be honest, a lot of us would fumble it. This is because most of us don’t have the skills to answer that question off the top of our heads A label is not enough. You could tell others that you are a teacher, a doctor, an estate agent, an accountant or a computer programmer, but the label doesn’t tell them anything about you. A label doesn’t differentiate you from all the other people that can claim the same label.

Your elevator speech has to be crafted and practiced. You may never need to say it out loud, but it helps you to understand the role you play and the value you bring to your work.

Keep an eye on your digital footprint

If you want to find out a bit about someone, what do you do? Chances are, you’ll Google them. This means your next step is to Google yourself.

What comes up – if anything? If you have a common name or a better known person with the same name as you dominates the rankings, consider using your middle name or an initial to differentiate yourself.

Make sure your social media presence works with the image you want to project.

Create a personal website or blog

This is one of the smartest ways to rank your name on Google. This website could simply include your resume, your social media channels and a brief professional biography.

The web gives you the ability to connect with others without necessarily attending professional networking events. This means it is particularly useful for anyone who doesn’t enjoy large crowds. A blog is a smart way to demonstrate thought leadership. In other words, build your brand on the strength of your ideas.

Share carefully

Think carefully about what you share on social media. Your posts should match your brand. Every time you share something you tell others about your brand. Consider how you wish to others to see you, and whether or not a particular post contributes to your brand. If need be, keep certain social media accounts small and private and use others for professional networking.

Build your network

Your connections with other people can strengthen your brand. Begin with the “three Cs” – company, college and colleagues. You should also consider digital contributing to the company blog or an alumni newsletter.

Connecting with others in your industry or company helps cement your brand. By nurturing relationships with colleagues and peers, both online and in the real world, you will be able to bridge gaps in your industry. You can act as a people connector and knowledge centre. In other words, with the right connections you become the person other’s turn to as a trusted source of information.


Anne Sexton

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