Personal brand management is just another thing we have to do in this day and age. It’s particularly important for influencers (or aspiring influencers), business leaders and entrepreneurs. However, don’t think that you can forget about it if you are employed, or a student, or working part-time. Unlike a few years ago, these days everyone should build and manage a personal brand. But why the rise in the personal brand, and why now?
Competition as driver of strong personal brands
There are several reasons behind the increasing importance of personal brands. First of all, the environment we operate in is very competitive. Whether you work as a freelancer, want to sell your latest book or are on the lookout for a new job, chances are you will be competing against other options or candidates.
Remember, competition per se is not a bad thing. It essentially confirms that what there is an existing demand for your offering. But, where there is competition, there will be players willing to lower their prices to win businesses. Be wary of following suit and dropping yours as well. Competing in price can quickly escalate in a race to the bottom, and we don’t want to go there.
So, how can you beat your competitors? Easy. Be different in a way that makes potential clients or customers want to pick you. Branding can help enormously here. Your work is to build a brand so compelling that sets you apart from your competitors in a really good way. A personal brand helps with perception, so you are seen as more exciting, knowledgeable, creative, professional, whatever, than your competitors. The key word here is perception, as we will see next week.
Personal brand and online presence
Another reason behind the surge of the personal brand is our digital footprint. If you have even the faintest online presence, you are already communicating a personal brand, whether you like it or not. Conducting online searches on potential employees, suppliers or collaborators is fast becoming a standard practice across the board. Everybody is doing it. Your job as your personal brand manager is to know, and if possible control, the online search results that appear for your name.
(I know what you’re thinking. Your social media profiles are for personal use only. Only they really aren’t. Repeat after me: what you put online is online forever. Even if you take it down. And those privacy settings? They can be surprisingly tricky to master, especially as they have a tendency to change over time, often unannounced. So mind what you post!)
The good news is that today it’s easier than ever to build a personal brand. The number of digital platforms and tools you can use to help you create a strong personal brand and brand presence online is outstanding. Better still, you can easily transfer your digital gains to the real world. (Remember, don’t see online and offline as separate silos, but as communicating vessels.)
The benefits of a personal brand
There are many benefits to having a strong personal brand. Whether you want to communicate with potential clients, potential employers or business partners, your brand will strengthen the perception you want to project, reinforce the knowledge and experience you bring to the table and highlight your unique selling proposition in the best possible way.
Why? Easy. A personal brand communicates your value in a short and punchy way. By simplifying who you are and what you do, a personal brand adds sharpness to your unique set of skills, values and story. It clarifies your proposition and how you can help a company or organisation. A well-designed personal brand also makes you more memorable, in a good way of course.
But there’s more. Personal branding can also help you enhance your professional reputation. Think of your personal brand as what people say about you when you’re not in the room. You want to make sure that it highlights your best points and all the great things that people say about you. If you build it right, a personal brand will be an asset that works hard for you even in your absence.
(I should also add that a personal brand is not static. Quite the opposite: a good one will evolve over time, just like you!)
In my next post I will look at tips, tools and tricks to help you build and manage your personal brand online and in the real world. In the meantime, to get you started, think: what makes you different?