Friday, 30 December 2011

Why You Need A Personal Branding Strategy

Personal branding is the process of consciously differentiating oneself from the lot and communicating this image to all after an exercise of personal discovery.

Irrespective of who we are or our station in life, we all are individual brands. Like Nelson Mandela, William Shakespeare or Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (Aka Mr. Bean), we can become good brands, bad brands or unnoticeable brands depending on what choices we make.   For the most part, many personal brands will remain dormant unless developed.
In order to achieve a great brand in one’s lifetime and beyond, a well-structured branding strategy can be quite useful. The following are some of the reasons why you will require a personal branding strategy.

1)      Setting yourself apart: The main purpose of a branding strategy is to differentiate oneself from the rest: In today’s ultra-competitive market for business and personal services, it has become even more important to stand out from the crowd.

2)      Communicate your brand and its credibility: A personal Branding Strategy aids in communicating your brand. This builds credibility for your brand and draws people to your course.

3)      Create Brand loyalty: Loyalty to your brand is also built and sustained through a personal branding strategy.

4)      Take control of the way people perceive you: Whether you make a conscious effort at personal branding or not, people are branding you anyway. Instead of leaving such an important task to others, why not take charge of that yourself since you know your brand best.

5)      Attract the right people to your course: A personal branding strategy will lead you to attract the people you need to help you reach your goals. You attract people to your brand by creating an emotional connection to your brand.

6)      Helps to maintain focus: It is easy to lose focus on the things that matter most when you don’t have a personal branding strategy. A strategy lets you know what is important to you and what is not. This way, you don’t spend resources on things which don’t matter.

7)      Personal development: Developing your talents and acquiring new skills to achieve one’s goals is facilitated by a personal branding strategy.

How To Develop A Personal Branding Strategy

Introspection: Developing a Personal Branding strategy starts with introspection. The following are some questions to ask of yourself as part of the introspection process. 

1)      Who am I?
Here, you ask yourself questions as to whether you are an introvert or extrovert. How do you react to situations? What are your temperaments? These questions help you know who you are. Knowledge of self helps you to stand out.

2)      What are your core values?
Do you value honesty, integrity justice or otherwise. Which values keep you going and which values will you never give up on no matter what. These values may be the driving force for your branding strategy.

3)      What distinguishes you from the rest?
Is it your writing style, the way you speak or your personality? Your people skills could be what distinguishes you from others. Since branding is about standing out you need to find out what makes you special and leverage it to the advantage of your brand.

4)      What are my passions, likes and dislikes?
What sets you on fire? Are you passionate about customer service, politics or human rights. Only when your passions are clear to you can you develop an appropriate personal branding strategy. It is easier to brand around your passions otherwise the branding process will only be a chore.
5)      What are my talents?
You may be naturally endowed or blessed with oratory, event management or interior decor skills. These skills when honed will help distinguish you from other people.

6)      What are my dreams and achievements?
Your dreams and achievements may be in academia, business or motivational speaking. These achievements and dreams help in building a robust brand for yourself.

7)      What are my strengths and weaknesses?
Apart from knowing what your strengths are you should also know your pitfalls. This will enable you to avoid them or know how to navigate them to avoid any damage to your brand. This is necessary because a brand once broken is difficult to rebuild.
The answers you give to the above questions will inform your positioning strategy.

Personal Positioning and Packaging

This is where you figure out how you want to be viewed by others or how you want to be perceived. For an artist, having a unique haircut may cut it for you. If you want to be a business leader on the other hand, you may want to wear an executive look. There is always the temptation to adopt a system that has worked for someone else like a mentor. You don’t to do that; build your own system that works best for you. Packaging is paramount here. The following are some questions to keep in mind.

1)      How do I stand out?
You have to figure out a way to position and package yourself in an outstanding way. You may decide to adopt a particular way of dressing or a particular hairstyle. The name Larry king evokes images or suspenders. Singer Will-i-am of the Black eyed peas also wears a unique hairstyle. Even the way his name is written is unique and distinguishes Will-i-am from others.

2)      What is the most effective way to portray myself?
People will always judge you by the way you portray yourself. The way you present yourself should be appropriate to your brand. Imagine talk show host Larry King wearing Will-i-am’s hairstyle. Chances are that his audience may perceive him as an entertainer rather than a journalist. 

 3)      What do I need to say?
To communicate your brand to your audience you will need to speak at some point.    To do so, you need to consider what you need to say and be mindful of what you ought not say. The language and tone are also very important.

4)      What opportunities are available to my brand?
There may be already existing opportunities for your brand, and in other cases you will have to create your own opportunities. The availability of opportunities or otherwise will determine the way you proceed with your branding strategy.

The responses to these and many other questions should guide you in positioning and packaging your brand.

Executing Your Personal Branding Strategy

Execution is the concretization all the plans and results from your introspection and positioning processes. There are many tools which can be employed in executing your personal branding strategy. It could be your style of dressing, speaking or writing. With the proliferation of many internet based social networking as well as professional and personal websites, the boundaries of personal branding have expanded. 

Evaluating Your Personal Branding Strategy

Your personal branding strategy should be in constant review. You can measure results by observing people’s reaction to you. You can also get feedback from your audience and mentors. Though the packaging may change, it is important to note that your core values should always remain the same. That is how you maintain your credibility and create brand loyalty.

In Sum

Your personal brand is more important today than ever before. Like in every endeavor, you need a strategy to direct your path. This starts and ends with the right questions and answers. 
Go on, build your brand, strategize for success and brand your way to the bank.

Watch out for the next article on more personal branding tools.

NB. Personal branding could make or break that ‘multimillion dollar deal’ so seek professional help if necessary.


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  54. Great suggestions and some interesting comments to boot.Personal branding is the process of consciously differentiating oneself from the lot and communicating this image to all after an exercise of personal discovery.Branding Strategy is the foundation for building a strong brand.