What kind of impression are you leaving people with? What do people say about you when you are not in the room? What impact do you have on them? How would they describe you in 5 words?
All of these are indicators of your Personal brand. So, as you are reading this post, pause and think about it for a moment…. what is your Personal Brand?
If you have read my posts or my ‘about’ page you will know that I have learned first-hand the impact of having a personal brand, or rather, the impact of not having one. I spent a lot of my corporate career being ‘myself’ without thinking about how that came across. It didn’t particularly serve me well.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not suggesting you aren’t anything other than true to yourself, I am a huge believer in being authentic. You do however need to think about how you come across to others and how you can ensure your messaging, your actions, your image, all amplify your authentic self and portray you in the best possible light.
In this post, I am going to elaborate on exactly what a personal brand is. Then I am going to give you some of the coaching strategies I use with my clients to help them develop their Personal brand.
So, if you want to know what a personal brand is and how to develop yours, read on:
What is a Personal Brand?
A Personal Brand isn’t the easiest thing to get your head around. We all understand what a business brand is. It’s the company ethos and story supported by their marketing and promotion strategies. We get Apple and their simple easy-to-use products and straightforward marketing. We are familiar with Nike’s motivational and inclusive ‘Just Do It’ campaign and we all recognise the back-to-back C’s of Chanel even if we can’t afford their handbags. The idea of Personal branding is more unusual.
A personal brand does follow the same principle as a business brand. It’s a unique combination of your story, skills, qualities, and experience. It’s about how you portray those things through your actions, communication, image, and behaviour to the outside world. It’s how others understand what you are about.
When I started to think about my Brand a few years ago, I started by trying to pinpoint a bunch of random specifics. I was in truth, all over the place in my thinking. Was it my social media presence (or lack thereof)? Did I need to go onto Facebook and Instagram? Everyone else was, so was I at a disadvantage? Were my brand issues in the way that I dressed? Was my habit of wearing roll necks in the office in winter a bad thing? Were they too informal? Should I be suited up? Was it about my communication? Did I need to be punchier? Was I too punchy…. did I need to be softer? I wasn’t sure where to start.
My Personal Brand seemed to include everything. The reality was, I was right, a Personal Brand is all of these things.
To help my clients get their head around their Brand, I divide it into 2 high-level elements. The first is what I call the ‘internal’ elements, in other words, who you are and what you are about. In my ‘Your Brand as a Business’ coaching programme, the internal elements include story work, passions identification and a values audit. This is followed by the ‘external’ elements, so in other words, what is visible to others. This includes your actions, attitude, communication and image.
Why is it so important to have a Personal Brand?
In my post Why a Personal Brand is your greatest asset I tell you in detail why a Personal Brand is so important so I won’t regurgitate that here but in summary, it differentiates you, amplifies you, enables you to control your narrative and it gives you pride. I found that once I started to work out my brand life I understood myself better and others understood me better. I knew what I stood for and so did they.
How to create and develop your Personal Brand.
The personal brand journey is about identifying who you are and what you are really about. It is about your values, your beliefs as well as your skills and capabilities. This is heart and soul stuff I’m talking about here. When you have discovered these, then, and only then can you spend time thinking about your branding strategy and how you go about presenting this to the outside world.
When I work with my clients on their personal brand, I use a seven-step framework. Here is a summary of that framework to help you find your personal brand:
- What’s your story?
Your story is what makes your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’, your USP. Every one of us has a story and no one story is identical.
What have been the highlights in your life? When have you found yourself at a crossroads or at a point of transition or change? What happened? What have been the challenges or difficult moments and how have you overcome them?
- What are you passionate about?
What you are interested in and passionate about helps shape who you are and what is important to you. It also gives others an insight into what drives you and what is unique to you.
Try to differentiate between passing interests and those that are fundamental to you. The idea is not to list everything but to identify what you are truly passionate about. It has to be important enough that you act on it or actively include it in your life.
So, what are you interested in? What hobbies or outside interests do you take part in? What do you like to read about? What do you feel your calling is? What do others come to you for?
- What are your core values?
Can you list your 10 core values? If you can’t, now is the time. I go through a very specific exercise with my clients on values but for this purpose, start with a blank sheet of paper and list your values. If you are struggling to identify what a value is, look up a list of personal values on the internet and work out which ones resonate with you most. The important thing about this is to focus on those that are most important to you.
Values are important because they reflect how you show up in life. They reflect what you are really about and what you hold dear. They are also important for others as they help others make meaning of you and understand what is important to you, what you tolerate and what you don’t.
- What are your qualities and your skills? What do you know?
What skills we have and what knowledge we possess is something we tend to be more familiar with. We cannot do our job if we are not competent. List all of the skills you believe you are good at. If nothing springs to mind, think about what others might say you are good at? What have you been told by your friends or your manager? List your skills and qualities and your qualifications.
- How do you behave? How do you act?
Now we start to work on how you represent everything you have learned in steps 1-4 to the outside world.
Are you representing your true self and your best self? Do your actions and behaviour represent your values. Take some time to reflect on how you behave. If you know that one of your core values is integrity, do you behave with integrity? If it’s authenticity, are you authentic or do you act like someone you are not in order to fit in?
Our actions are the biggest reflection of who we are to others. We are judged on our actions first and foremost. If your actions, your behaviour, even your attitude is not in keeping with who you really are, this requires attention. Your personal brand will lack clarity if you don’t act with who you are in mind.
- How do you communicate?
We have probed on how you act, now is the time to look at how you communicate. What you say to others and how you say it is of equal importance. Saying what you mean helps avoid misunderstanding. Communicating who you are and what you about with impact and clarity portrays self-confidence.
How do you communicate? What do you think works or doesn’t work in your communication style? How do you communicate your brand? Do you communicate it at all?
Don’t just think about the obvious such as verbal communication. This includes your written communication and the message you give to the outside world be they the pictures you post, the comments you share and the content you write.
- What image do you project?
At the last stage of the process, I spend time with my clients on ‘Image work’. We review their personal style and the attire they wear to the office and now, we spend time on their ‘Zoom image’ and surroundings. This ensures they are projecting an image that they feel comfortable with, that gives them confidence and amplifies their brand.
Have a good look at your image. Whilst you may write it off as not being important, particularly if you are spending a lot of time on video calls, think again. It really is. Are you portraying the brand you want through your image and is it serving you well?
My 7-step framework is designed to help you introspect and go through a logical process to identify your Personal Brand. Take time to go through this journey. Write it down. Have fun with it. In a future post, I will tell you what makes a great Personal Brand so you can learn how to make yours as successful as possible and work most effectively for you.