Kicking Off Your Personal Branding

There was a time when brands were tied to products, services, and companies alone, but that time is many years behind us. Today, personal branding, Brand You, has become an integral aspect of everyday life for many people. Using the tools of the social web such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on, anyone can develop their own personal brand through their online interactions and the content that they publish. It’s a new world of branding that’s open to anyone with a desire to carve out their niche and develop a specific reputation.

We’re used to watching celebrities become brands. Athletes like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are perfect examples of celebrity brands. You can achieve the same form of personal branding, but first, you need to determine what your personal brand promise, position, and value proposition are. Only then can you leverage the tools of social media to develop and market Brand You.

Whether you want to develop your personal brand as an extension of your business or you want to develop your personal brand in an effort to further develop your career, you’ll benefit from doing it. Personal branding can help you build your network of followers, get you in front of broader audiences, and open doors to new opportunities.

In order to develop your personal brand, you need to start with the basics that apply to all branding efforts.

Following are some of those basic steps to get you started on the path to branding success.

1. Determine what makes you stand out from other people in your field.

What makes you different from others and how are you better than others? List your skills, experiences, areas of expertise, certifications and so on. Together, these attributes make up the features of your personal brand.

Next, determine how those features help your target audience or add value to their lives (or for potential employers, establish how those features add value to a company). This process enables you to identify the benefits that your personal brand delivers. Remember, you need to differentiate Brand You from all the other personal brands you’re competing with in your market. That means the features and benefits you deliver need to uniquely position you against competitors and make it clear that your brand is the best choice for your target audience.

Again, identify the benefits your brand delivers based on the wants and needs of your target audience. The things that you think are important about your personal brand might not be the things that are important to your audience when they’re looking for a person with your knowledge, skills, and experience.  This is one of the most common mistakes that businesses and individuals make when building brands. Your audience should always come first. Your goal is to make them believe that your brand is the one they need, but you need to learn what they need first.

2. Create your personal mission statement.

Businesses use a mission statement to define what a company stands for and what that company is working to achieve. Your personal mission statement should accomplish the same. Write a mission statement that identifies who you are, your top personal brand features, and your brand goals. Your mission statement should tell the story of Brand You in 1 or 2 succinct and specific sentences.

3. Design a “Brand You” logo.

Tiger Woods did it. P Diddy has done it. Even Prince did it during “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” stage. Why can’t you do it? I’m talking about creating a logo for your personal brand. Logos are visual, and research shows that people remember colors and images much better than they remember text. If you design a personal brand logo and use it on your business cards, website, Twitter profile, and so on, you’ll create one more way for people to remember you next time they see your name and logo.

4. Promote Brand You.

Just as a business invests time and money into marketing their brands, you need to invest time and money into promoting your personal brand. Print business cards, launch a website, publish a blog, and get on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Publish useful content across the social web that helps you build your brand reputation and your network of followers. Just be sure to consistently represent your brand across these varied sites and profiles. For example, avoid getting too personal in your Twitter updates and refrain from uploading pictures, videos, or updates on your Facebook profile that detract from your brand image and message.

5. Establish your personal brand expertise and authority.

Much of your personal brand success comes from the credibility that you’re able to build around Brand You. Therefore, look for opportunities to write guest blog posts on influential blogs where your target audience is likely to spend time. Publish comments on posts on popular blogs in your industry to join the conversation and demonstrate your expertise.  Also, connect with other experts and online influencers on Twitter so you can engage with them. You can pursue offline activities as well such as speaking at events, hosting lectures at colleges and business organizations, and teaching classes. People need to develop trust in Brand You and you can help them feel more secure by establishing your credibility and maintaining that credibility through ongoing activities.

6. Be flexible and modify Brand You as necessary to stay competitive.

The world changes quickly. You need to keep learning and be prepared to tweak your personal brand as your abilities, expertise and experience demand it as well as when the world demands it. Use the tools of social media to keep track of your brand reputation, so you know when it’s time to rethink and revise Brand You to continue meeting your audience’s wants, needs, and expectations.

7. Protect your personal brand.

You are your best brand champion and guardian. If you don’t promote, protect, and defend Brand You, no one else will.

Personal branding success is yours to take. Get on the social web today and start establishing your niche and claiming your space with Brand You.

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