Creating a Brand Called “You”
From Facebook profiles to your decision to buy a Starbucks coffee in the morning, everything that you do on a daily basis forms a part of your personal brand. On a small scale, branding works the same way for individuals as it does for corporations. As the leader of a corporation or a small business, your brand is what makes you money. Whether you want to reach out to potential patients or gain new customers, you have a chance to stand out with your brand.
Big Companies Already Know What to Do
On April 2, 1993, people were calling for the end of brands. Philip Morris dropped its price on a pack of cigarettes by 40 cents and the stock market value plummeted by $25 billion. Naysayers believed that this was a sign that brands were over.
This doomsday premonition turned out to be completely wrong. With the rise of social media and online marketing, developing a successful brand has only become more important in modern life. Every website and online company knows the value of branding. From Kim Kardashian showing off her figure to online Oreo competitions, brands have innovated new ways to reach out to customers. A strong brand shows consumers that this website or company is worth buying from.
No one understands branding better than firms that specialize in personal services. These firms do not sell a product or anything that can be tangibly carried. Instead, they specialize in selling ideas. Their services and employees are a part of their marketing appeal to attract new customers. If you are smart, you learn from the best brands and make your own distinctive identity.
Why Are You Unique?
From this second on, you are going to rethink how you advertise yourself. You are not just an engineer at Ford or a small-town dentist. Your job title does not define who you are any more because you do not belong to a company. Like Pepsi, Banana Republic and Nestle, you have a brand that makes you stand out from the crowd.
At an international corporation, marketing executives sit down to figure out what makes their brand unique. You can do the same thing. Using 15 words or less, try to write down who you are and what makes you different than the next company or employee. Reread it several times and think about what you have written. If your answer does not grab your attention, then it is not going to catch the eye of a customer or an employer. What is your most unique trait? What are your strengths? What sets you apart from everyone else?
Forget about your job title as you create your brand. In the current marketplace, employees change jobs multiple times in their lives. You cannot just define yourself based on what you do. What accomplishments are you the most proud of? More importantly, what do you want to become famous for?
Create a Pitch that Sizzles
People do not just buy steak. They watch a commercial and become enamored by the sizzling sound, the meaty scent and the idea of the taste. Your skill sets are a part of the feature-benefit model of your personal brand. You have to consider what benefits you offer to a potential customer, employer or patient. If you are Virgin Airlines, your benefits would include low-cost fares and hip styles. You need to create the same unique style that lets you stand out.
Once you know what makes you different from everyone else, it is time to expand your profile. If you lack opportunities to do this in your current role, you can always try taking on a freelance project. Network with other people in your industry at conferences and your events. Learn a new skill, show off your abilities and meet new colleagues.
If you cannot network or freelance, you can always try writing a book about your industry or teach a community college course on the topic. By doing either of these things, you set yourself up as an expert on the topic. People want someone who is knowledgeable about their field, and teaching a course shows that you know what you are talking about. As a result, you are more likely to get new opportunities.
With the age of Amazon, you can always self-publish a book on your industry or your specialization. Freelance editors, book cover creators and marketers are easily found online who can help you transform your book into finished copy. If writing a book seems too daunting, you can always write an article for a community newspaper or a newsletter. Submitting a column or writing an editorial in your local newspaper can also help you to stand out from the crowd. As you gain more bylines to your name, you will have a better track record. In addition, each column will be a marketing opportunity for your personal brand.
Everything that you do matters to your personal brand. Sometimes, what you do not do is just as important. From the way you respond to e-mails to your public speeches, you are sending out continued messages about your brand. You need to focus on the content that you release to the world and how you say it. From the logo on your business card to your contributions in meetings, every part of your brand counts.
If you create your brand correctly, you will be able to stimulate word-of-mouth marketing. Every colleague, client, friend and customer can help you propel your marketing goals forward. With so many fake reviews and testimonials published online, word-of-mouth referrals are more important than ever. Nurture your personal network, and you will quickly see the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
You Hold the Power
You have power, but you may not realize it yet. We are not talking about the power over countries or the financial market. When we think of personal power, we are talking about your power to influence the people around you. If you are a doctor, your power is found in the strength of your clientele and your success rates. If you are an academician, your power is found in the number of citations you get from other scholars.
Obtaining and wielding this power is your best way to grow your brand. By using your personal power, you create a halo effect where you emanate the qualities and ideas that your brand gives off. In the workplace, focus on building your power by volunteering for new projects, contributing to teams and networking with your colleagues.
Power is all about perception. If you want people to see you as an authoritative brand, you have to act like it. Today’s world is filled with project-based work that is perfect for building a brand. Each project has deliverables and measurable results that help you showcase your abilities and experience. Use these projects to advertise and showcase your brand’s power.
As you look at your project list, try to think like the big brands. If you are a brand manager at Coca Cola, you have to consider your brand’s assets. Which features help to boost your power and appeal? Should you include a single line about the project? Was the project noteworthy enough to include more? As you consider these factors, you can create a new resume. Unlike the old resumes of the past, your new resume is basically a marketing brochure for who you are. Instead of a job title and your length of time at the company, you will include all of the projects and results that you have achieved. As you achieve new goals, include these in your future resume.
Loyalty Is the Only Thing That Matters
Loyalty is more important now than it has ever been. In the past, people thought they were loyal if they worked at one company for their entire life. Now, loyalty is directed outwards from the company. Instead of feeling loyal to the company, you must be loyal to yourself, your customers and your project. Companies are more willing than ever to lay off workers during slow times, so you cannot rely on the company appreciating or rewarding your loyalty.
It may sound a little selfish to promote yourself and be loyal to your own goals, but you have to do it to succeed in today’s world. Your employer is only loyal to the business. If the economy weakens, they will fire you rather than risk the company’s financial stability. You have to use this same attitude to get ahead. Focus on building a network, achieving deliverables and learning new skills. Ultimately, being loyal to yourself is a win-win for the business. You get the brand that you want, and the company gets to enjoy your hard work, additional skills new relationships and excellent results.
Now that your brand has been created, you have to see if your work is paying off. Ask for feedback about your value, performance and growth potential. You need to find out if your efforts are paying off and your worth on the open market. By doing this, you gain a better bargaining position. Plus, you immediately find out if your branding efforts have been a success.
Looking Toward the Future
In the past, you worked at an entry level position for a few years before receiving a promotion. After a promotion, you waited another few years before you took another baby step up the ladder. Today, careers are like a chessboard. You have to deliberately think through each move and be prepared to move sideways instead of forward. Switching to a new job position, gaining new skills and building a portfolio help you to constantly recreate yourself.
Managers are now obsolete. You are not trying to just become a manager and stay at that one level for the rest of your life. Instead, you want to find engaging, provocative projects that challenge your abilities. Rather than being a slave to the rat race, you have the power to determine your own future. Figure out what your personal definition of success is. Whether you want money, passion or fame, you should include these goals in your personal mission statement. Every project you do as a part of your brand must fit within your ultimate idea of success.
Whatever your goals are, there are four things you can do to measure your success. You have to be a an expert at something and a visionary. You also must be a supportive teammate for the people that you work with. Last, you need to treat yourself like a business as you work toward your goals. There is no one path to success that works anymore, so you have to constantly reinvent yourself and create your personal brand.