“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
– Tom Peters in Fast Company
You’ve probably heard of the term “personal branding.”
It’s a trendy phrase popular with personal development types that means “how you present yourself to the world.”
The main idea is that whether you like it or not, the world is going to have an opinion about you. Most people don’t think too much about how they’re seen. They just live and let the world think of them however they’d like.
“Personal branding” is about intentionally influencing how the world sees you. It’s about purposefully packaging that “brand called You.”
The benefit is obvious.
The better prepared you are to show the world who you are, the more likely the world will see you the way you want.
• That means your coworkers
• That means job interviewers
• That means people searching for you online
• And that means your social circles
When you have a solid personal brand, you’ll be more memorable, you’ll be more impressive, and people will wind up having a more favorable opinion about you – that’s the same thing that good branding does for a productt.
How to Actually Do It
Like most things in the world of “personal development,” “personal branding” is a pretty vague concept.
It’s one of those things that sounds nice, but discussions about it tend to be impractical or not actionable enough to be useful.
If an idea isn’t practical is it worth much?
So let’s be practical. Follow these 6 easy steps and you’ll have worked out a personal brand you can start using today:
Step 1: Choose the pillars for your personal brand
Every brand is based on a few good qualities. It makes it easier to connect and remember the product it’s attached to.
A good example of branding is Apple. Apple sells computers, phones, and software. You could say a lot about them, but their brand is focused. Apple’s brand is fun, slick, stylish, cutting-edge, reliable, and virus-free. Their brand is focused and it’spositive.
You need to do the same. Choose a handful of qualities about yourself that you want to be known for.
Maybe you’re witty, a movie buff, a great organizer, and a green energy expert.
Or maybe you’re a confident, detail oriented, serious, leader who’s a crazy Chicago Bears fan.
What collection of attributes do you want to be known for by the world? Make sure you don’t try to focus on too many things – it’ll be harder for someone to remember any of it.
Oh, and make sure you’re honest with yourself – pretending to be something you’re not never works well.
Do this: Write down the 4 or 5 things you want the world to know about you.
Step 2: Prioritize your brand elements
It’s easier for people remember one thing than several things. It’s easier for people to focus on doing one thing than doing a lot of things.
For example, most websites want their visitors to do a variety of things – get on an email list, bookmark the site, click on an ad, buy a product, comment, share on social media, etc. The more of those things a website focuses on, the less likely visitors are to do anything but go to a different website.
Too many options leads to inaction.
The same concept is true for your personal branding. The more you throw at someone, the less likely they are to remember any of it.
So what you have to do is look at your list of 4 or 5 qualities about yourself and decide which of them is the most important. If someone could define you by one qualtity, which would it be?
The other things, though important, can be secondary elements in your personal brand.
Do this: Rank your 4 or 5 elements by importance to you.
Step 3: Make your elements into a sort of “elevator statement”
As a general rule, I think folks talk up the importance of things like personal elevator statements and personal mission statements too much.
Even so, the process of developing one helps take something general (like a list of 5 qualities about you) and makes it easier to talk about convincingly. That’s important, because it can be damn hard to talk about something you haven’t already thought through.
Have you ever talked about something in public without first having time to think about what you had to say? For example, has someone ever asked you to tell a story about something funny that happened to you? You remembered exactly what happened, but just never thought through how to tell it. So you try to tell your story, but your audience’s eyes glaze over because you’re not telling it well, and you eventually end awkwardly with, “uh, well, I guess you had to have been there.”
It’s a similar situation with your personal brand. You need to think through how to communicate it or it won’t be useful.
Here’s the best way to work through that quickly:
1) Pull up something that can record audio on your computer or phone.
2) Literally record yourself talking about each of your 4 to 5 qualities, why they are important, why other people should think they’re important, and examples that would show the world you have them.
3) Ramble on and on until your ideas start solidifying. Talk until it starts feeling more comfortable and natural to talk about them.
4) Once you start feeling comfortable with what you’re saying, stop recording, and listen to it.
5) Write down the most compelling things you said – the things you think are the smartest, most eloquent things you said about yourself.
6) Condense the best stuff into three sentences that emphasize your primary quality while including the others. (This is your “elevator statement” for the purpose of this exercise).
Do this: Actually work through this stuff by recording yourself, taking notes, and distilling it into an elevator statement of sorts. (Don’t stress about getting this perfect, I’m not going to ask you to put this in public anywhere).
Step 4: Align your online identity with your new elevator statement
Like it or not, what is online about you influences how others perceive you. If you want your personal brand to be effective, your online accounts at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your other online profiles need to reflect the ideas in your elevator statement from Step 3.
If you were a stranger looking at your online accounts, would your main takeaway reflect your personal brand?
If not, you need to start adjusting things. Don’t copy and paste your new elevator statement to your Facebook profile, that would look kinda weird. Instead, emphasize the things that make your personal brand stronger online and de-emphasize the things that conflict with it. (For example, if you said you’re nice, delete that quote about hating something).
Do this: Take a quick audit of your online profiles and start adjusting things so they reflect the elements of your personal brand.
Step 5: Take more control of your online identity
Most companies have a presence on social media nowadays that reflect their brand. But their online “home base” is a website they own.
The reason’s simple. You can manage your online profiles, but you have complete control over a website you own.
The same is true for you. You can clean up your Facebook account all you want, but if you really want to solidify your brand online, creating a personal website is the best way to make that happen.
This step might take you off-guard. Many folks think creating their own website is super hard, or they need to learn programming, or they’d need to pay thousands of dollars to get someone else to design a website for them.
The truth is that it’s never been easier or cheaper to create your own website (if you’re smart enough to get to this website you’re probably smart enough to create your own).
(If you don’t know and want more details about how to easily create your own website, go to www.WebsiteFromNothing.com. It has a quick series of tutorial videos that show you how to do it.)
I recommend you build your website on a domain based on your name for the biggest personal branding for the buck. If your name was John Donald, buy www.johndonald.com, .net, or .org.
Then make sure your site is simple and clearly highlights your personal brand. It should clearly show your strengths. It should communicate, “this is who I am, this is what I can do, and this is why you should believe it.”
Be creative. It’s your online real estate.
Do this: Create your own personal website to establish your personal branding.
Step 6: Live your personal brand
The last and most important step is to live your personal brand.
A personal brand should be more than how you present yourself to the world. It should also be a real life description of why you’re awesome. So that’s what you should be.
Spend your time emphasizing the elements of your personal brand in your life. Sometimes we don’t act like the person we want the world to see.
We think we’re motivated, but we spend a ton of time watching television and surfing the internet.
We think we’re nice, but we gossip about others.
A well thought out personal brand will help you present yourself to the world. It can also be a clear cut description for who you should aspire to be in your day-to-day life.
So here’s my recommendation. No matter who you are or what your goals are, go through these steps and develop your personal brand. Decide how it’s going to be a part of your life. How are you going to use it to your advantage?
Tom Peters is right in the quote at the beginning of this article. You are the CEO of You Inc. whether you recognize it or not.
The question really boils down to this:
Are you going to live accidentally or are you are going to live purposefully?
Joey shows people how to create their own website that they can customize and maintain on their own (without spending a bunch of money or becoming a computer programmer). If you want to learn how, go check out the free videos at www.WebsiteFromNothing.com.