I’m a fan of continual learning and self-improvement. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.”
Perhaps it’s the farmer in me, but I love the analogy of our personal and professional lives to that of nature. Think of it like this: The minute you stop working to improve yourself, your success will start to fade.
And while you may be doing a lot of things right, my guess is that you haven’t paid close enough attention to your personal brand.
Admittedly, there are many different ingredients in the recipe to find success, but giving focus to your personal brand can take your career from “blue plate special” status to culinary masterpiece!
With any recipe, following the steps is only part of creating a culinary masterpiece. It’s also critical that you have the proper ingredients. And your brand is no different.
Note: This blog is the second in a two-part series. Part One, “Six Easy Steps to Success with Personal Branding” published as a guest post on Aha!Now earlier this month. While the earlier post explained how to create your Personal Brand, this article focuses on the “Key Elements” that should be included in your brand.
1. Be Authentic. Don’t profess to be something you aren’t. Simply identify the outstanding skills that make you unique and then build your brand around them.
If given a choice between working with an original artist or someone that does reproductions, it’s likely you would choose the artist that could give you something truly special. And your target is no different.
2. Define core values. Every successful brand accurately and concisely shares their core values and you should plan to do the same.
The core values of your brand can include things ranging from your reliability, knowledge, innovation and even product quality. In essence, you could summarize the concept of core values by thinking of what one word you want people to use when they think of you.
3. Develop Expertise. Without some sort of topical authority, your brand will likely falter. Sure you may find success by being the quickest or the cheapest…but most truly successful brands are judged by greater indicators than these.
Your goal is to develop a persona that is respected and trusted by those who chose to work with you. Every highly successful brand has something where they claim expertise. For H & R Block, it’s tax prep. For Nike, it’s sports supremacy.
Define your area of expertise and then stick to it. While you may grow and branch out into related areas, you should remain vested in the field of your expertise.
4. Be Consistent. Much like you hesitate to purchase a brand you don’t trust, others will hesitate to buy “you” if they sense inconsistencies.
Once you have crafted your brand and “Compelling Statement,” it’s important you maintain messaging and content that fits your brand. For example, if you proclaim an “environmentally friendly” approach to your target, you shouldn’t endorse a hot new product that harms the environment.
Also, if you have a visibility on-line (which you should), make sure that your on-line image matches your daily actions.
5. Be visible. It’s absolutely critical that your brand be visible to others. Without an element of visibility, your brand will quickly stagnate and never achieve the desired state of brand presence.
If you plan to promote your brand digitally share lots of pictures and even video if possible. Or for those engaged in remote work or school activities, use digital technology for meetings to help maintain a physical presence.
PS- if you have the luxury of working in a physical side by side environment, this should be an easy one for you!
6. Network to promote your brand. Whether you are an entrepreneur, happily employed or presently in the job market, plan to network and share your brand persona.
Once you develop your “Compelling Statement,” you will find it much more comfortable (not to mention beneficial) to participate in various networking events.
But remember your goal here is to be interested rather than interesting. That is that others will enjoy the conversation more and likely remember your brand, if they feel that you valued their thoughts and input.
So while sharing your brand is a part of the conversation, it should not consume the discussion. Rather, use this opportunity to learn about others.
You will have plenty of opportunity downstream to discuss possible joint interests.
7. Dress the Part. While many may argue that clothing is not a judge of ones abilities, your wardrobe has great impact on your brand.
Now I’m not suggesting that you need to wear a 3-piece suit every day. In fact, the opposite may be true. Instead, you want to dress appropriate with your brand.
For example, if your brand involves analytical thinking, perhaps you want to assume a scholarly appearance. Of if you are focused on a conservative target, then you may want to dress in that manner.
Regardless, think of yourself as an actor playing the part of your brand and dress the part.
8. Be Professional. While your industry will define the degree of professionalism required, your brand should meet and exceed those standards.
If you are in an office environment, this may include how you communicate differences of opinion. And if you are an entrepreneur, then perhaps this element touches how you respond to negative feedback.
Regardless, all successful corporate brands know and respect the importance of handling sensitive issues with respect and professionalism.
While the recipe may feel a bit complicated, following the right steps and using the correct key ingredients will help you create a brand that folks will rave over!! And raving fans spell increased success for you!
I’d love to hear from you. What branding successes or struggles have you experienced?