Changes in how people communicate, research and connect have created the need to own your digital footprint or personal brand. Because if you don’t control your personal brand, then Google will. 

Creating brand YOU 

Tom Peters, the man credited for coining the term “personal brand”, defined it as thus: 

“Your personal brand is comprised of your character, competence and charisma. It’s who you are, what you do and why you’re special. You have to create it, claim it and then make sure everyone in your network knows about it!” 

Your personal brand is largely shaped by what the internet says about you. Try Googling yourself. Do you come up in the results? If you want control over what people see online about you, what is being said about you and how you are represented, you first need to develop your personal brand

1. Planning 

Why: What are your goals for branding yourself? These should include:

  • Visibility
  • Preference
  • Credibility
  • Engagement
  • Influence
  • Perception 

Who? Who is your audience and who do you want to influence? Choosing a niche or target audience will make personal branding easier. Define your:

  • Key stakeholders
  • Niche
  • Influencers
  • Peers
  • PR 

Want more articles like this? Check out the business branding section.

2. Assessment

Assess your current reputation. What is your brand identity as it stands now? Identifying brand YOU involves looking at yourself and your attributes in a brutally honest way. It takes guts to unflinchingly take stock of the details of your life, personality and achievements. 

Do you like what you see, or can YOU be improved? 

Seek out external feedback on your reputation by:

  • Using 360?Reach (an online personal brand assessment tool).
  • Asking those close to you: what words would you use to describe me?
  • Listening to how you are introduced. 

Start to define your personal brand:

  • What are your personal ethics?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • Use Gary Hamel’s advice and “create a cause, not a business”.
  • Follow the top three branding rules – clarity, consistency, constancy.
  • Develop one core message – your elevator pitch. 

3. Expression

Now is the time to get your message out there. 

How do you reach the people you want to influence? Choose the right tools! 

Use your marketing collateral to promote the look, feel and style of your personal brand. Evaluate your touch points to check whether they reflect this. These include your:

  • Profile
  • Portfolio
  • Biography
  • Press kit
  • Cover letter
  • Social media profiles
  • Recommendations and referrals
  • Success stories
  • PR
  • Domains
  • Website
  • Email accounts and signature
  • Phone message
  • Texting
  • Pictures
  • Events
  • Office environment
  • Personal style: grooming, clothing, posture, communication style
  • Forum manner – on and offline
  • Networking associations

Take control of your personal brand to ensure you are in charge of how the online and offline world sees you. Because if you are not branding yourself, you can be assured that others are doing it for you! 

For more on how to get the most your of your personal brand, watch this video interview with stylist, speaker and author Ben Angel

Are you in control of your personal brand online? Tell us your experiences with personal branding in the comments below.

“ Identifying brand YOU involves looking at yourself and your attributes in a brutally honest way. ”
 
Danielle MacInnis

Danielle MacInnis thinks like a customer and creates insightful, practical marketing strategies for small businesses.

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