Outside of the political sphere, we seldom associate individuals with a ‘brand’. Yet the image we present to the world on- and offline, the impression that we create and the things we want to be remembered for can all be considered part of our personal brand. In a world where the importance and power of influencers is becoming more widely recognized by the day, taking control of your own personal brand can help get you ahead in your career and in your social life – and can be an invaluable tool in promoting your business.
What is a personal brand?
You might not realize it actively, but everyone is at least somewhat aware of their personal brand. Even when you do something pretty minor like choose a font for your email signature, you’re trying to change the way other people perceive you. The way you dress, the things you buy, the causes you support and the way you communicate with others are all a part of your personal brand. Realizing that, and then taking action to make sure the messages you’re putting out there align with your goals can be very empowering and get you noticed for all the right reasons.
Why do I need a personal brand?
In today’s connected world, many of your company’s potential customers are likely to do a little research online before they choose to give you their business. If you’re a very small business or a solo freelancer, your online presence and reputation can make an enormous difference as to whether people choose to hire you, or someone else.
Even in very large international companies, the reputation of the people in charge – be they managers or the CEO – plays a part in whether the public find that company trustworthy. You only need to think of the way a company’s stock or share price can fluctuate dramatically when a CEO steps down or a new one comes in to see this effect in action.
Aside from your professional reputation and image, your social media profiles and the content you share on them gives people a glimpse into the kind of person you are. If they resonate with you, they’re more likely to make positive associations with your company or offering too. By showing your ‘human’ side, people will perceive you as more approachable, likeable, and relatable. So how do you create and refine your own personal brand?
Take a moment to really think about your goals
What is the main driving factor behind your desire to rebrand yourself? You might feel like you’re stuck in a rut in your career or personal life, or you might just feel like it’s a time for a change. It’s difficult to make a change happen, however, when you aren’t sure what it is that you want. Do you want to become a better ambassador for your own business, or are you looking for a promotion or career change?
Evaluate your social media profiles and presence
Understanding who you want to connect with and why is also important, as you’ll want to focus on the platforms that best lend themselves to connecting with your intended audience. If the people you’re trying to connect with generally prefer Instagram over Facebook, for example, you might need to become more familiar with how to promote yourself there.
You also need to decide how much of yourself you’re willing to have in the public domain – people like honesty and transparency, but you do also want them to know you’re a professional.
Give yourself a makeover
Of course, your personal brand isn’t limited to the online realm. How you present yourself in person, at networking events, and during business meetings is crucial. For many people, this is also the best place to start – as walking around with a ‘new look’ invariably spills over into your online life and gives you plenty of motivation to keep moving forward.
The way you look really does affect the way you feel and how confident you are. Interestingly, research has even found that plastic surgery can dramatically improve self-esteem. And while you certainly don’t need to go that far if you don’t want to, taking control of your health and appearance, and making sure your clothes and makeup flatter you and help you look your best can be very empowering and affirming.
What comes up when you search for yourself? If you aren’t happy with the “you” you find reflected there, start taking steps to get the kind of content you would like associated with your name out there. Edit and improve your existing profiles, add new ones on relevant platforms, and if possible, publish some articles which reflect your expertise and qualifications. With a little practice and persistence, creating, refining and maintaining your personal brand can be a very gratifying experience!