“I’M NOT A BUSINESSMAN/I’M A BUSINESS, MAN!” - Jay-Z
Jay-Z got it right. That’s what personal branding is all about. It’s not only your commercial brand that delivers a message to the marketplace; YOU do, too!
Maybe you’ve already worked on branding your business, but have you built a personal brand? A personal brand is an aspect of branding that can often go overlooked, even though it’s incredibly important in business.
When you are competing for a job it is not just about your education and your skills, it is also about what’s unique in the way you think, the way you work and the things that you are passionate about. People hire people, not resumes.
Whether you’re looking to use your personal brand to get a job, are launching your own business, or want to strengthen your existing business, building a strong personal brand will help you to transform your passions and personality into a brand that works for you.
What is a personal brand? Personal branding describes the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd.
Having a strong personal brand can help you
- gain more confidence
- feel more empowered to charge a premium for your valued services
- stand out from the competition.
- enhance your recognition as an expert in your field
Here are three necessary key steps to begin building your personal brand:
1. Tell Your Personal Story – What Makes You Tick
A great brand is a story well told. I often relate how I am the unofficial inventor of the “Pet Rock.” Having a brother who is highly allergic to animals we were never permitted to have a pet; so I created a pet by placing a rock in a Cool Whip container. I put grass in so it could “eat” and poked holes in the lid so my rock could “breathe.” My parents were relieved to see me satisfied with my “pet”. A decade goes by and Gary Dahl is listening to friends complain about their pets getting sick, costing money and taking up their time. He jokingly mentions that a rock would make the ideal pet because it would not need care, make demands or involve emotional attachment. Out of a joke the Pet Rock is born – and he makes millions.
Relating a story like this instantly communicates several things about me and my business. It’s a memorable story which means that I, too, am more likely to be remembered. It speaks to a key tennant of my business: how innovative thinking and taking action, even on ideas we might be inclined to discard, can lead to tremendous success.
2. Link Your Personal Story to Professional Expertise
Richard Branson used his daredevil personality to create buzz around his fledging Virgin brand through stunts like crossing the Atlantic in a Virgin branded hot air balloon. Blake Mycoskie turned a passion for helping poor children in Argentina into the thriving TOM’S footwear brand. UNREAL candy started with a question from a 13-year old kid, “Why does the junk food we love have to be so bad for us?” That question became a mission and a “healthier” candy company was born.
Other well-known examples of linking personal stories with expertise are inventor Sir James Dyson who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner and created Dyson Limited. As the brand was just getting started, Dyson appeared in every advertisement together with his machines. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream who brought the “chunk” into ice cream and put “local” and social responsibility on everyone’s radar. They, too, are featured prominently on each ice cream carton.
These successful brands are practically inseparable from the personal brands that created them. Find your unique twist and don’t be shy about linking it with your business.
3. Use Every Touch Point for Your Brand.
Think of every point that a customer comes into contact with you as a chance to communicate your personal brand. Use those moments to make yourself and your business more memorable. Even little moments can have a big impact. The colors of my company, BrandTwist, are pink and purple. When I speak at conferences, I have a little purple bucket that people can deposit their business cards in. It’s a small touch, but goes a long way in reinforcing the brand of “me.”
The social media manager at Virgin Active SA had the following job description in his email signature: Social Media Ninja! This makes an immediate, enjoyable impact that speaks to the whimsy of the Virgin brand and will long be remembered.
Consider other ways you can stand out besides the usual stationery and business cards. Perhaps you become known for a particular color or an accessory that is always present in some fashion. Put a twist in your voice mail message. Create a unique salutation.
As an entrepreneur, independent contractor, artist, job seeker or corporate business executive, you are a brand. As Richard Branson notes, “When you are running a business, the most powerful advertising asset you have is yourself.”
What’s your brand YOU story and how will you use it boost your business?
Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to strengthen your brand and your connection to your customers. Get our free brand-building tips and receive access to updates about Brand School’s exclusive programs when you sign up for our newsletter at BrandSchoolOnline.com.
“Brand School was engaging and helpful to me in learning more about myself and my business. Results came amazingly quick. Now, my brand name speaks my message immediately and I’ve expanded my reach.” - Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive