Why Should You Care About Your Personal Brand?

I had once been stumped by a client because they asked us how we were promoting our own brand and the answer was that we weren't doing a great job of it because our time was dedicated to building our client brands. 

My client then said that it's no surprise that we aren't doing a great job on our own brand because usually the marketer doesn't have time to market / brand themselves. 

After that enlightening moment I decided that I was going to change that, because I realized how important it is to have a great brand reputation and what it can do for you. This translates to your personal brand as well, because your reputation will precede you - people will talk about you while you are not present, what they say about you is something you have some control over, based on how you establish your personal brand. 

Discovering Brand You

Much like how a product or service markets itself, you first need to discover what key strengths you want to emphasize. Do you volunteer for a non-profit or recognized cause? Have you moved up the corporate ladder quickly? If you are a freelancer, what names are in your client portfolio? In marketing yourself, you need to create the right 'package of benefits' for people to perceive. I attended a workshop held by the Lean In Canada Vancouver Chapter (disclosure: I am the Chapter President) and learned from our speaker Ann Stone how to build a personal branding statement. Here are the steps she shared with us:

  1. Define your audience - note that personal branding statements should be crafted for specific audiences because different audiences want to hear different things
  2. Define your name - in this case your brand would be the name you want people to use to refer to you - is it your nickname or full name?
  3. Define the frame of reference for your brand - if you want to be known as a marketing consultant, you may say: [your name] is the marketing consultant.. that
  4. Define your Point of Difference - what characteristics and qualities make you special from the REST of the people in your frame of reference? Are you the marketing consultant best at data analysis? The top creative and collaborative marketing consultant? The most experienced at working with Influencers?
  5. BECAUSE...(this is where you give the supporting cases for your Points of Difference

Now let's try it. Here's an example for someone who wants to standout in a group of marketing consultants:

Jane Smith is the marketing consultant that will help you generate the highest return for your investment in your sponsorship dollars. She has helped nationwide brand X increase their return on investment year over year by 300%, converting awareness to traffic to sales and having clear metrics to measure success. Results oriented and efficient, Jane will ensure the best use of your sponsorship dollars. 

The above exercise helps you discover what you already have, utilize the experience you already have, to craft this personal branding statement. Dig deep - we all have something worth shining a light on. 

What If I'm Not There Yet?

You will have to build a path there - because as a Pendulum reader, you shouldn't give yourself any excuses and barriers to your personal growth. You should be actively removing such excuses and barriers!

For example, if you want to be known as an up and coming Illustrator in Milan, I would try to get the following things in your portfolio:

  • Contribute as an illustrator to a lifestyle or art magazine
  • Offer to create signage for non-profits; non-profit boards often have members who are well-connected and not usually in your network or industry, giving you more reach into a new realm
  • Work on your social accounts - a phone with great framing techniques and editing in the phone Photoshop app will give you quality photos - it's an online portfolio for people to research you if they've never met you before.
  • Join illustration competitions - a title to your name will get you more interviews and press features
  • Piggyback on existing art shows - be seen to be known

So figure out who you want to be, how you want to be perceived (and make sure it's authentic or it definitely won't work), what you want other people to say about you and actively manage your personal brand, because it will help to attract the right people, events, jobs to you.