Recently, while thumbing through my old high school yearbooks it
occurred to me that even as far back as high school, we were being
branded. Class clown, Most likely to Succeed, Class Cutey, were all
brands we bestowed on those select few that made a favorable
impression on us. While others, like Billy Schneider* who was named
Most likely to Repeat Senior Year, was branded as someone that I know
he did not want to be known as. We all posses a Personal Brand
whether we realize it or not. In life, like in high school, if you don’t brand yourself someone else will.
We know all too well how essential branding is to the success of any
business but how often do we consider the role that branding plays
when we market ourselves. Billy Schneider was given a brand
that was not of his choosing. Had he understood the principles of
personal branding, he may have had a different experience.
It is our beliefs, values and our self-image that drive our personal brand.
Failure to identify and cultivate these drivers affects our ability to attract
interest, differentiate ourselves from our competition and promote and
market ourselves effectively.
To experience the greatest success and impact in your relationships,
consider making this the year you introduce that incredibly unique brand
1. Identify your unique values: Like any good marketing plan,
you want to begin with what makes your product unique. In this case, the
product is you. Remember that you are an original – there is no one else
quite like you. What do you stand for? What are your beliefs? Jot down
several key words or phrases that best describes your unique values.
2. List your key attributes: Identify your key strengths/talents in a
few key words or phrases.
3. Develop your personal brand statement: Compare your
unique values and key attributes and from those key words and phrases
begin to develop your personal brand statement in 1-2 sentences. This
statement represents your personal brands unique promise of value and
is distinctive to you and only you.
4. Integrate your brand statement into everything that you do:
Since your brand statement is the essence of you, incorporate it into all
of your printed collateral. Make it a part of your introduction at
networking and other functions. Communicate your brand statement in
the way you conduct business and in your personal image.
5. Watch your Appearance: If the visual image you are
projecting is not a direct reflection of your personal brand statement, you
are doing yourself and others a disservice. Consider your personal
image as the packaging of your personal brand. Remember, YOU are
now the product and your packaging will either attract or detract from
6. Check your Brand Behavior: Packaging your brand includes
not only your appearance but your conduct. Do you return phone calls
and emails promptly? Do you deliver on your promises? Although it
may seem obvious, being forgetful, stretching yourself so thin that you
don’t deliver on what you promise can negatively affect the integrity of
your personal brand.
7. Communicate your brand: Studies show that our appearance
represents 55% of influencing power when meeting someone for the
first time, while 38% comes from tone of voice/behavior. The
words we speak reflect the balance of 7%. Although 7% may not seem
high, it still has influencing power when meeting people for the first time.
Therefore, speaking in a manner that reflects the core of our personal
brand is key. If your brand statement depicts energy and creativity, for
example, then your speaking style should reflect those key elements as
8. Let your brand take center stage: One of the most effective
ways to promote your brand is to speak in public. When asked, public
speaking is one of the things most people are terrified of doing, followed
by dying. Shake off the fear and communicate the brilliance of your
personal brand by looking for opportunities to tell others what you can
offer. The more people you can touch with your brand, the more
valuable your brand becomes.
9. Evaluate your brand regularly: Make an appointment with
yourself twice a year to re-evaluate your personal brand statement. If
your unique values and key attributes have undergone changes
(we are continually growing and evolving and there are times when that
growth is so great it alters our personal brand) compare those changes
with your personal brand statement and adjust as needed. By
evaluating your personal brand on a regular basis, you are also
confirming that you’re on-track and staying true to your unique self.
10. Delight in your brand: Many people will make the excuse
that they don’t have enough money, or time, to invest in themselves (or
their brands). Here’s a brand truth, no brand is successful without
making an investment. Stay interested in the success of your brand by
paying attention to how your brand is being received and look for
opportunities to tell others about your brand. The more comfortable you
become with your brand the greater your chances are of attracting brand
interest. Be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your
brand. Building brand equity takes time so take the process a day at a
time and enjoy the journey!
*name has been changed to protect the wrongly branded