Some readers will undoubtedly be uncomfortable with the idea of being labeled as a "brand". However, what they fail to realize is that many elements of their personal brand have already been labeled long ago. In almost every situation, personal branding is at play. Since you are already being labeled for being you, you might as well embrace it!
Many people will ultimately view personal branding as a form of self-promotion and selfishness. I can't argue with this as in many ways it is. However, this doesn't mean personal branding is a bad thing.
Personal branding is the process of discovering what is true and unique about oneself and sharing it. Each and every one of us has a unique value proposition that differentiates us from others and helps us to stand out from a crowd. Personal branding helps us to identify this value and articulate it to others. In this way, individuals can enhance their recognition as experts in their field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence. Simply put, developing your brand makes you a more valuable asset, whether to the company you work for, a potential employer, or your own enterprise.
Some readers will undoubtedly be uncomfortable with the idea of being labeled as a "brand". However, what they fail to realize is that many elements of their personal brand have already been labeled long ago. Consider this, one is literally a representative of the products they buy, the lifestyle they live, and the connections they have. Throughout our life, we have made decisions among competing brands, choosing some brands over others, and along the way have built up attitudes, impressions, and beliefs about the foods we eat, cars we drive, clothes we wear, people we interact with, and companies we work for without even noticing. The various corporate brands we support shape our own personal brands, and ultimately what others think about us.
In almost every situation, personal and professional, personal branding is at play. Since you are already being labeled for being you, you might as well embrace it! And, for what it is worth, it might as well be the REAL you.
Above All Else, Be Yourself
There are several tips, tricks, and strategies I could share on the topic of personal branding, and each would be immensely helpful. In fact, I may one day write about them individually. However, I feel that none of them is as important or will better serve you more in your personal branding efforts than this one: simply be yourself.
There is a misconception that branding is all about changing who you are in order to fit others' expectations. While image management is typically just that - a product of conscious manipulation - personal brand is about sincerity.
In true personal branding, authenticity is required. Those who pretend to be someone they are not run the risk of being exposed. Just as good romantic relationships are based on genuineness, openness, and a willingness to be up front from the start, in business your relationships depend on authenticity. Authenticity showcases exactly who you are and what you can deliver. For example, if you brand yourself as a graphic designer, you should be able to back that up with a portfolio of solid design examples.
A false image may get you some short-term success, but over time, others will likely see through it. Rather than constructing a false image and working hard to maintain a deception, you should pay attention to what is truthful and amazing about you and work hard to make the most of it.
Allow me to clarify if I may...
In closing, I wanted to address some early feedback that I received on this post prior to publishing. I am in no way suggesting that individuals shouldn't be concerned with their brand's perception as long as it's accurate and authentic. This is certainly not the case and could lead to a bad brand experience. Instead, I am advising readers to be "real" with the information they do decide to share.
For example, while publishing photos of yourself and friends falling down drunk at a bar may in fact be an accurate representation of your Saturday evenings, it is not something you'll want to share with your professional network. The truth of the matter is that perception is a major element to the personal branding experience. In other words, it's important to be selective as well as authentic when building your personal brand.