Each day we are greeted by brands, their logos and their messaging. However, any brand manager will tell you that the key to developing a successful brand is making the consumers believe that message. Similarly to the brands we interact with every day, we too have a personal brand that we present to the world. It is made up of our interactions with social media and all of our online and offline conversations with our friends, our work, and our family, along with the way we dress and carry ourselves. Our personal brands are out there – whether we are aware or not. Our ability to leverage our personal brand is what sets us apart in today’s job market, whether we are looking to transition, to get ahead, or to stay where we are.
Developing a personal brand to set you apart is fundamentally built on one key component – finding your authentic voice. The message you send out to the world should remain authentic to who you are and your passions. If Kanye West were to come out with a country music album tomorrow, his audience would be shocked, just as NBA fans were when Michael Jordan signed to the Chicago White Sox, a minor league baseball team. Likewise, if you are looking to change your personal brand, it has to be a handled strategically and over time. Like any marketing plan, personal rebranding does not happen overnight and you must take the time to strategize where you want to be and how best to get there.
Once you have your plan laid out, you need to be sure to track the little things as you would any company brand. A company that has a different social media tag for each platform may find their brand diluted and difficult to find. While it may be easier to do this with a trademarked brand, it is equally essential for individuals. On social media, choose a handle that it easy to find and unique to you. Don’t be like Mike Pence. @Mike.pence on Instagram will direct you to the page of the VP but on Twitter, that handle belongs to a software developer named Mike Pence who has made a name for himself by being constantly confused with the VP. Don’t let this happen to you. It may not be possible to get the username you want across all social media platforms, but be creative. Use a nickname or create one that reflects your name along with the brand image you have developed for yourself!
Another form of consistency relates to your message. You want to create a visible and accessible message but it is so easy to get distracted from your marketing plan with posts about friends, celebrations, break ups, and other personal events that can take away from the image you are creating for yourself. Take some time every few months to clean up your pages. Make sure that there is nothing “off brand” or potentially damaging to you professionally.
Become a “Thought Leader”:
If you are looking to take your career to the next level, positioning yourself as a thought leader is crucial. For most of us, myself included, this is the most intimidating component of personal brand building but it does not have to be. For example, if you are an expert in adtech, share your findings with your followers. If you are trying to transition from a very different background, leverage your current knowledge base with everything you are learning. Each of us has a very different background and your unique point of view sets you apart by bringing a new perspective. You can become a thought leader by adding your own voice to the conversation. Start off small and as your confidence builds, post more. These posts may only reach your current followers initially, but once they like or comment, you will begin to reach a new, expanded audience.
Developing your own personal brand does not have to be overly complicated. A personal website, blog, pulse posts on LinkedIn, or even status updates are all great places to start. Look for thought leaders in your space or even people you admire and follow them on social media, comment on their posts, and learn from them. When you’re ready take it offline. Go to networking events and talk to people who will help shape your perspective and give you a chance to sound off ideas and most importantly, practice being consistent to the brand of you, the version of you that is consistent with your values and goals, the authentic you.