The idea of personal branding was first raised in a 1997 Fast Company magazine article by Tom Peters. Since then, countless books, blogs and consultancies have attempted to guide individuals through the process of creating a strong personal brand to enable career success growth.
“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room,” Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon
What is a personal brand?
The practical answer is that your personal brand is a clear, concise and authentic way of communicating who you are and what you’re all about. It also tells others what you’re bringing to the table that other people aren’t.
So as we each already have a personal brand, why not spend some time thinking and crafting what yours communicates to others?
How do you create it?
There are six elements that make up your personal brand:
Values: One way to determine this is to think of them in terms of moral dilemmas and what you would strive to do from an ethical point of view.
Drivers: These are what motivate you; think about the ingredients that have been present when you’ve been happiest and those that have been absent when you’ve been unhappy.
Reputation: Defining your reputation in clear terms and working to ensure the message comes across loud and clear is the next step.
Behaviours: These are adjectives linked to your values that describe who you are. For instance, if you value honesty above all else, this might come out in your behaviour as being frank or open.
Skills: Ask yourself if one of your skills is actually an outcome of using your expertise. For example, if organisation is a skill you think you have, it may be that your actual skill is process management and being organised is a by-product of that. Being as specific as possible helps make your personal brand more unique.
Image: A good way of thinking about your image is how you present your values, drivers, skills, behaviours and reputation to the world around you. It’s not about pretending to be something you’re not, rather it’s about ensuring how others perceive you is an authentic match with your sense of self.
What else should be considered?
When you think about those six areas in terms of how you want to be spoken about “when you’re not in the room”, also think about the following:
Is it more than expected?
There’s no point selling what people already expect, so don’t say you’re professional or friendly. A designer needn’t say they’re “creative” and an accountant needn’t say they’re “good with numbers”.
Is it a real strength?
If your brand is about being unique, look for things you know you have that you can honestly say “I’m great at”, not just the things you think you’d like in your brand but could only say “I’m fairly good at”.
Is it specific enough?
The more exact you can be about what it is you offer, the better chance you have of your individuality shining through.