We all know the power of brands. Who anywhere in the world isn’t familiar with McDonald’s fabled golden arches, Coca-Cola’s distinctive red-and-white logo, or the green Starbucks mermaid?
But here’s a secret–building and promoting your own personal brand is just as important for your success and happiness as it is for any business.
A brand is often described as a “collection of perceptions” people have of a product, service or organization – it is what sticks in their minds and helps them make buying decisions. But people don’t only have perceptions about products, services and organizations – they also have perceptions about the people they meet.We all have a personal brand that influences other people’s decisions about whether to do business with us. This personal brand has a powerful impact – not only on the people we meet, but other people within their networks, too. People talk about us just as they talk about products, services and organizations.
When you consider that research suggests word-of-mouth recommendation has a far greater influence (more than 80 per cent) over how an individual makes a purchase than other forms of marketing, you can start to appreciate the potential impact of your own brand.
But how do you recognize what your personal brand is, and how can you shape it so that you influence other people positively?
How to know what your personal brand is?
In his book Brand it Like Beckham, Andy Milligan outlines the key factors of David Beckham’s brand. This is split into his public and private “self” and what he is known for in each area. In his private brand are his roles as son, father and husband; his public brand includes celebrity, footballer and fashion icon.
These are the core elements of what has become a successful brand combining the “ordinary East London boy” with the more exceptional professional footballer and celebrity. But there are other characteristics, too, including David Beckham’s values, motivations, ambitions, personality, interests and connections, as well as more visible qualities such as his appearance and communication style.
What is probably most important about this model of personal brand is that it is broader than David Beckham’s professional reputation alone. It recognizes that the whole person needs to be considered when identifying a personal brand.
Why care about your personal brand?
Whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur, cultivating a personal brand has become more important than ever. Personal branding gives you all the control and power.
There are three key areas where our own and others’ awareness of our brand can help (or hinder) in networking.
1. Creating an impact
Your impact on others happens in three stages:
- The immediate impact: when they see you, before you’ve even opened your mouth
- During the initial conversation: what you say and how you say it
- After the conversation: how you follow through and develop the relationship
2. Raising your profile
Whatever you put out there in terms of your brand will dictate how you are remembered, recognized and ultimately recommended.
3. Enabling your contacts to inform and connect you
Only if your contacts are clear about who you are and what you are trying to achieve, they will be able to pass you the information you are looking for and connect you with the right people.
Identifying and communicating your brand is an essential ingredient of successful networking. If you are working with others as part of a team, then the personal brands of all these individuals will determine how your company or team brand is formed.
How to promote your brand?
Once you’ve identified your personal brand you need to get it to market. It’s best to do this in a way that emphasizes your brand qualities.
Here are some ideas:
- Be an expert: gather as much knowledge as possible
- Share expertise: this may mean offering free advice or information, or mentoring or coaching
- Be well-connected and connect other people: that means being seen at events, moving around with ease, and being able to connect people
- Not become a bore: be more than just an expert, be prepared to have conversations about a wide range of topics – which adds to being recognized as a good networker
Keep your brand fresh
Every brand needs to be kept fresh and relevant. Your brand needs to reflect changes in your market and changes in your own goals or ambitions.
You can change your personal brand – it is your brand after all – so you need to grasp it, make sure it’s what you want it to be and then get it out there, working for you and your business.
If you want to learn more about Personal Branding we are happy to help!