8 Steps to Create a Kick ASS Personal Brand — No BS!
Let’s cut right through the fluff and BS around personal branding to help you create a personal brand that people will resonate with.
Recently I have jumped on the bandwagon of ‘personal branding’ and have started studying the subject daily to get a better understanding of it.
In today’s digital age ‘branding yourself’ has become increasingly important to grow your professional identity/reputation no matter what industry you’re in.
You may be wondering as I was a few months back why do I even need a personal brand?
Well, the simple and straight answer is that in today’s competitive world especially where work is concerned, a personal brand will help set you apart when you apply for work and even whilst you are at work.
Without you even knowing it your already a personal brand. We all are. Just Google Yourself and see how you come up. Your digital footprint forms part of your brand. You don’t need to own a company or be an Instagram influencer to be a brand.
If your one of those rare individuals that don’t have a digital footprint, (are you living under a rock?) Just kidding! Your still a personal brand. After all, you still have some type of professional identity.
Brands are not just the big players like Nike, Apple, Coke Cola, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, etc. They also consist of smaller players that are still important in our world. The deli down the road is a brand, so is your local butcher.
Although the term ‘personal brand’ is fairly new, the concept is not. Its been around well forever since humans first got to work. Just think Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, the Vatican, George Washington, The Titanic, etc were all brands.
Fast forward to today and we are seeing the term ‘personal brand’ pop up everywhere. You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of the term. There are even personal branding coaches, and courses on the subject.
The topic is so huge that a whole industry has emerged from it. The downside of this is that so much confusion, misunderstanding, and just plain nonsense has also emerged. In addition, we are seeing increasingly a whole culture of ego and narcissism being born around personal branding. Some people are using personal branding to just feed their ego and narcissism.
There are even gangs recruiting based on branding. No Joke!
So how do you navigate the world of personal branding without getting lost in all the fluff and negativity?
Well, Im a big believer in doing your research well (this will help you in all endeavors of life). Aside from this, I would point you to the following 8 steps that are highly practical and highly actionable for you to apply to create your personal brand.
These steps are based on hours and hours of research on the subject. I’ve digested what I’ve learned in these steps. It’s best you follow them in sequential order (step by step) to get the most from them.
I believe now is the ideal time to create your personal brand. It will help launch your career post-COVID and help you stand out amongst the crowd.
So, let’s get right down to business:
1. Go Inside and Introspect
This step is your foundation. You start from where you are -unemployed, fulltime worker, part-time worker, casual worker, etc. Everything starts on the inside and then translates to the outside. Without this first step, it’s impossible to create a personal brand or at least one which is aligned with who you are and what you want. Introspection will reveal your why your who and eventually you’re how. Remember the world needs your gift whatever that is — small business, entrepreneurship, writing, graphic design, sports fill-in-the-blank.
- Journal, mind map, or just simply make a mental note of your interests and passions (what are the patterns that emerge?).
- Observe what you enjoy but are also good at.
- Remember the formula: Passion+Competency+Marketablity = a winner.
- Do a deep dive and discover your core values. Incorporate them into your brand. Start with 5 values.
- Speak to others to find out more about your talents and abilities.
- Try a few things out (okay to quit midway if it’s not for you!).
- Enroll in a few online courses and just learn.
- Look for the gaps you can fill in society (bring a new product, service, etc).
- Make an existing product or service better with your skills.
- Take a personality test like the famous Maya Briggs test.
- Try Career Explorer just for fun (surprisingly accurate).
2. Get Inspired
I believe that inspiration is more important than motivation. It ignites a fire in your belly which eventually leads to motivation, but it’s internal, not external motivation. The fastest way to get inspired for your brand is to seek out people who are already excelling at their game and learn from them. Model yourself after what works. This is what role models and mentors are all about. All successful people have mentors and role models that inspire them. With so many brands out there, both big and small you face no shortage of inspiration.
- Study brands (small & big) inside out. Visit their website, sign up for their newsletter, videos, etc.
- Consider doing an internship at a brand if applicable.
- Invite someone whose brand you respect and admire out for coffee.
- If catching up for a coffee isn’t an option just make contact through email, Linkedln, etc.
- Read the Book What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles That SeparateThe Best From The Rest.
- Check out Evan Carmichael, Johnathan Maltby, and Basant Blast who are authentic voices in the world of personal branding. Sign up for their free webinars.
- Listen to TED Talks, podcasts, Youtube videos on the subject.
- Join a mastermind group of people with similar visions.
- Join Meetup groups -career groups, professional development, etc.
- Attend networking, industry events (online & offline).
3. Create an Image for Yourself
This is where you get intentional and get clear on how you want others to see you. At some level, you probably already know how you want to be seen, but if your like a lot of people you may not be doing it consciously. Most people operate on auto-pilot. So, switch off auto-pilot and get intentional about the image you want. Remember your constantly evolving so your image and personal brand will evolve too.
- Get intentional and create a brand persona/image — conservative, corporate, fun and quirky, playful, etc.
- Clean up your digital footprint on how you show up on Google.
- Remember the saying — You have to dress the part. Lots of psychology behind this.
- Remember fake it till you make it! Don’t have to have it all figured out now. You’re on your way…. so start acting it.
- Start being a thought leader, contributor, expert in your field. Start building momentum and you’ll get there.
- Ask others for an honest appraisal as to how you come across (leave your ego at the door).
- Don’t compete with others, focus on you are and what your here to give.
- Focus on service and helping others through your brand. Your brand can’t just be about you. Needs to add value to others.
4. Stand Out From the Crowd
In a highly saturated world with so many people creating personal brands, you must stand out. Remember people pay attention to what’s different. Don’t just be like everyone else. Go against the grain and the cookie-cutter culture. Be You, don’t try to be another Richard Branson, Steve Jobs. Learn from them. To truly stand out consider maximizing aspects like your personality, including your story (adversity, pain, suffering) leadership skills, and just the way you contribute to society.
- Think of ways in which your story ( both the good and the bad) can help others.
- Use your challenges/setbacks as an inspiration to help others.
- Study the obvious — what successful brands do to stand out!
- Speak to recruiters, hiring managers, marketers, to find out more about standing out in the marketplace
- Have a niche (an area of specialty) that you master and are known for.
- Find your target audience — don’t pick everyone and everything. Must be targeted.
- Start creating content — blogs, videos, podcasts, etc (get visible)
- Be authentic and show you care (the world is full of unauthentic people)
- Use your personality quirks, eccentricities, so-called weirdness to your advantage. Bring them it into your brand!
5. Be of Great Service
Ultimately any personal brand is about being of service to others. Ideally, you should be constantly asking how can I add more value and service to people? Your brand is you but not about you. If you take the attitude of adding more value and service than anyone else, you’ll have raving fans says Tony Robbins. It’s so true, yet still not followed by many people who are simply just invested in themselves. The world needs people to add value and service. You can do this through your brand.
- Think of not-for-profits, volunteer organizations who need help. Offer your time and service.
- Reach out to your local community and see what you can offer.
- Build relationships with people instead of networking. The latter is so transactional. Don’t be transactional.
- Set weekly & monthly goals around being of service and value.
- Consider giveaways, freebies like content which is huge at the moment. Could be as simple as a blog or eBook.
- Join forces with others and start an initiative or join an existing initiative and be of service.
6. Cultivate & Maintain Integrity
Self-development teacher and motivational speaker Brian Tracy says that “Integrity is the foundation of your brand.” I couldn’t agree more, as there is no nothing more damaging to your brand than being seen as someone with little or no integrity. It dilutes your brand. Its integrity that builds long term relationships, fosters trust, and makes people come back to you. Through integrity, you create a great reputation for yourself. Remember reputations take a long time to build but can be destroyed overnight.
- When making decisions, consider your brand — how will it affect it? will it aid your brand or diminish it? what do you have to lose?
- Make integrity a core value of your brand.
- Write a mission statement and incorporate values like integrity into it.
- Don’t cheat, boast, show off about how good your brand is.
- If you become big, stay small in that you have humility and ego doesn’t take over.
- Inspire other people on your team if working with others to practice integrity.
- When your selling yourself — do so with integrity!
7. Market Yourself
Without marketing you don’t have a brand, you have an idea. Marketing is what makes your brand visible. It’s your visibility strategy. Johnathan Maltby says “When you become visible you become valuable”. The key though is to be strategic with your marketing. Don’t just use a shot-gun approach and market yourself on every possible platform. You don’t need to be on every social media platform. Take the time and do your research to come up with a truly effective marketing strategy that will work for you. So, be mindful that not all the action steps below are applicable to you.
- Get a website. Have someone do it for you if its not your thing.
- Create content — blogs, write for platforms like Medium, Quora, etc
- Create a tagline, slogan, to describe yourself and work.
- Create a logo and colors for your brand ( add these to CV, website, etc)
- Create an email signature.
- Get on social media platforms.
- Start a podcast or get on one.
- Attend industry events.
- Create business cards(post-COVID-19 will be popular again)
8. Innovate and Up-skill
In a fast-changing world with new technologies disrupting the workforce, you will get left behind if you don’t innovate and upskill to meet the changing environment. Never fall into the trap of being complacent because you have made it, and are well established. This is one of the biggest mistakes to make. Brands that stand the test of time, have all innovated and up-skilled to get with the times, often changing their entire approach to business.
- Enroll in online courses to upskill and expand your knowledge.
- Listen to online videos and podcasts.
- Attend industry events and webinars.
- Study the most in-demand skills for your industry.
- Get the balance right between soft and hard skills right.
- Don’t be afraid of new technologies — experiment with them!
- Read books on professional development, leadership, etc.
- Study market trends (trendwatching.com is a great resource)
- Yearly if not every six months do a review of your skillset and what’s in demand.
- Update your resume, social media profiles to stay relevant.
- Think of yourself as a solution to a problem/s in today’s workspace.
If your currently out of work one of the best things you can do for yourself right now is to create a personal brand. I can’t emphasize it enough.
Use this time to get to know yourself better and create your very own brand. Once you’ve done this you can then apply for work. It will help you stand out. You can showcase your brand on your resume, cover letter, email signature, etc.
Creating a personal brand is one of the best things you can do for your professional life. In today’s world, it will skyrocket your career.
If there is just one thing you do for 2020, create a personal brand, and witness the change.
To Creating a Better You,
Sandra Di Francesco
Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org