The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. RALPH WALDO EMERSON
In today’s fiercely competitive and hyper-connected digital age, your success no longer depends on fitting in with others. Your success depends on who you are and your points of distinction and power – on what you bring to the table that no one else can. But how well does other people really understand who we are – our aspirations, experiences, skills set and the value we provide?
The answer is that most people don’t. Most people have us in a big file with a number of other people. They’ve a vague idea of what we do or what we’re good at. As years pass, and we continue to gain more experience and expand our skills set, others perceptions and knowledge of us may become out of date. With the growing information overload we’re all facing today, coupled with our fast growing number of connections, others do not only struggle to keep up with us, but it is increasingly difficult for them to retain what little they know about us. This means that we can no longer rely on just being great at what we do and hope that people will remember us, keep up with us and recommend or hire us for great projects. It is so easy to get lost in the sea of other talented and hardworking people.
Thankfully, having control of your brand means that you can make sure that other’s perceptions and knowledge of you is consistent with who you are by proactively and strategically highlighting, leveraging and celebrating what makes you different and unique – your personal experiences, insights, skills set and the unique value you provide.
However, before you start building your brand, you should first understand how you are currently perceived. In my last post, I asked you to consider what your brand is currently saying about you to determine whether you need to develop, expand or change it. With that important knowledge, you can then decide how you want to develop your brand. There are 4 main steps to building a compelling and enduring personal brand.
Step 1: Clearly articulate who you are. Your goal here is to:
- develop a narrative that clearly explains what is unique about you – your values, aspirations, experiences, skills set, and how your experiences and skills set can add value in a given context. An essential task for you is to understand what your talents and abilities are and what you want to do with your life. Everything else should fall out from this. When you truly understand who you are and what you want to do with your life, and commit to this, life becomes so much more meaningful and fulfilling.
- help others to understand and visualise what it is like to be around you, the value you add to others lives and what you will be remembered for. You will remembered not for your achievements but for how you’ve impacted others’ lives. A life lived without impacting others does not really count. It’s like having never really shown up in the world.
Step 2: Create a look for your personal brand. Your brand packaging, should ensure that your:
- name and how it is perceived by your target audience,
- personal story – the key story or stories that define who you are today,
- visual identity – your logo and the associated design elements that generate recognition for you, and
- personal and business presentation – how you package and present yourself and your business perfectly tells the story of your personal brand.
After step 1 and 2, you should take sometime to review where you are. Ask yourself whether your brand delivers concrete value for its audience. You need a positive answer before you can go on to the next step, which is personal publicity. Promoting a mediocre personal brand can hurt your image irrevocably. So if your brand does not deliver concrete value, you should take actions to improve it before you can confidently start step 3.
Step 3: Develop and implement a personal publicity plan. Your publicity plan will help you to share your personal brand, every where that you interact with your audience. You may begin by charting out every way that you interact with your audience and the wider world and make sure that the message and promise of your brand are communicated clearly in a memorable, harmonious and consistent manner. If you can explain the message and promise of your brand in a way that enables your audience to grasp and visualise who you are and what you bring to the table, you are half way to building a powerful personal brand.
Step 4: Live your personal brand. This is the most challenging step, because it requires you to stay focused on the message and promise of your brand 24/7. At this step, you have to show that holy trinity of personal branding – clarity, consistency and authenticity – in all your actions. You need to make sure that everything you do is not only congruent and consistent with the promise of your personal brand but also adds to its value. Because your brand is not what you say it is. Your brand is what people extrapolate from your daily actions. It is only when your audience experiences your personal brand through your actions that they will see the integrity of your message, that you are who you say you are. So, ultimately, your behaviour and actions are your personal brand. They either enhance or undermine it.
You can use personal branding to create a powerful image. An image that will increase your visibility, credibility and recognition, enabling you to have a greater impact on your world. I believe that wherever your life is at the moment, it will become more meaningful and valuable, when it is guided by your personal brand. This is about living your life vitally and on your own terms.