“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Tom Peters

Average doesn’t cut it anymore!

We are living in what Peter Drucker called the era of three C’s – accelerated change, overwhelming complexity and tremendous competition.

Too many entrepreneurs, small business owners and consultants, are constantly struggling to earn what they are worth; limited by market value; working longer hours each day just to survive, while constantly needing more clients, more money and more time in their life – because they rarely stop to figure out, what it will take to move them from the majority, to the top of their niche, market or industry.

Branding isn’t just for companies anymore – creating your personal brand will help you stand out in the crowd – as an entrepreneur you already have a personal brand whether you buy into this thinking or not – your reputation, credibility, business, career, professionalism and opportunities, are all wrapped up within your personal brand.

“A brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room” Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

Personal branding is more than just marketing and promotion – it empowers individuals – your personal brand, is the perception held in someone else’s mind – it’s the emotional response you want people to have, when they hear your name, see you online, or meet you in real life.

So, how do you take control, determine and shape, what you want people to think, and say about you?

Ask yourself: “What makes me different? What do I want to be known for? What is the first thing I want people to think, when they hear my name? What can I do that no one else, or not many people can do?”

Without a personal brand, you’re similar to everyone else. Here are my top keys to help you build a powerful personal brand:

01: Start With Why!

What’s your ultimate purpose, belief or cause that inspires and drives you, to do what you do?

When you look at any successful person, what you see is the end result – we forget how they started with a burning desire that filled them with the drive, passion, determination, self-discipline and an obsession to work hard for endless hours in devotion to their craft and mastery, before they received any form of recognition.

Your ‘big reason why’ is prerequisite to your success – as Napoleon Hill said in “Think and Grow Rich,” his 1937 inspirational classic, “Without developing an all-consuming obsession, a definite purpose and a burning desire, you won’t find the motivation to succeed.”

What’s your big reason why? Do you want to create a legacy? Achieve great things? Maybe you’ve finally had enough of your current situation. Or you want to provide the very best life possible for your family.

Creating your personal brand and knowing exactly what drives you will help you distinguish yourself as an exceptional professional.

02: Be Authentic

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe… Hold the highest vision possible for your life and it can come true… Go for your highest and greatest vision for your life and align your purpose with the flow of your life… Follow your passion… Sooner or later, your passion is going to win out and nobody can stop you” Oprah Winfrey

Having an authentic personal brand is a valuable asset in today’s online, virtual, and individual age, where “me too” abounds on the web.

Your personal brand is the key to your success – and is the positioning strategy behind the world’s most successful people.

Your personal brand, should be built on your passion, dreams, purpose, uniqueness, values, characteristics, expertise and ambition – who you really are and what you really want. Your personal brand should always reflect your true character

By aligning your personal brand with your authentic self, you will build trustworthiness and credibility fast.

03: Commit to Constant and Never Ending Self Improvement

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Jim Rohn

The word for constant and never-ending improvement in Japan, is kaizen. It is the age-old philosophy of warriors, that is now becoming the personal mantra of the world’s most successful people.

“You don’t get in life want you want, you get in life what you are” – transform your mindset, by continuously upgrading your skill set; developing your level of mastery of your specialism, craft or field by surrounding yourself with a wide range of the very best literature that inspires you to think independently.

Immerse yourself in the best specialist books and information on your subject – do this for at least 1 hour each day – and you have a massive competitive advantage over those that ‘wing it’. When you commit to never-ending self improvement, you’ll soon enjoy the inevitable success that follows.

04: Position Yourself as the Go-to Expert, Authority or Celebrity, in Your Marketplace

“When you are small you need to appear big”. The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Whenever we need specialist help or assistance, we all look for a recognized expert or a leading authority that we can trust. And, the harsh truth is, if you are not already perceived as the best choice, go-to expert, authority or celebrity in your market, niche or industry – then you will be seen as just another commodity.

Let’s face it, top experts and influencers command the best jobs, the best business, most respect and most of the wealth period – when you build your personal brand and rise above the sameness – you’ll see how rapidly you’ll make a breakthrough from struggling to prosperous, from average to great, from great to number one in your market.

No one will ever declare you as the expert, or the authority, this is something you need to choose to do for yourself. By shifting your thinking, building your personal brand, and becoming the next version of you – you’ll discover your ultimate competitive advantage is YOU!

05: Dare to be Remarkable

“Average is for losers.” Seth Godin

In today’s attention economy, you’re either remarkable or you’re invisible – hard work isn’t an advantage anymore, because everyone is working hard – so where do you go to create certainty in uncertain times?

You take responsibility for your own success, by breaking free of the mold of average and making a clear decision to rise above the culture of mediocrity – stand out, get noticed, make a difference and have a shot at the big time.

Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Start now, stand out, play a bigger game, as the trusted voice, the go-to expert, the authority or celebrity, in terms of your brand positioning, reputation, market influence.

06: Develop Your Pitch and Get Noticed

The purpose of the pitch is not to close the sale… it’s to start the conversation, sell the appointment…

The best pitch is a true, stunning, brief little piece of your story – something real, so compelling that it leaves your listener eager to hear the rest of your pitch – not hyper-compressed polished prose.

When developing a compelling pitch, it’s important to remember that the people listening to your pitch will be tuned to WIFM (What’s in It for Me?) So be sure to focus your message on their needs, so that they want to hear more.

07: Build Credibility by Writing a Book

Writing a book gives you a high level of credibility and helps you build your personal brand, like almost nothing else.

Just imagine if you wrote a popular book that resulted in you being asked to speak to audiences of potential clients, that want to talk with you, and buy your products or services? What would that do for your business?

Imagine you’re seen by your professional colleagues, and peers as the expert in your field – becoming an author can make a huge difference in your business and personal brand – credibility, notoriety, recognition, client referrals, career offers are all lucrative benefits that come from writing a book.

08: Engage, Persuade and Influence

Have you ever felt really inspired watching a good movie? Movies are essentially stories, and the art of storytelling is one of the most effective ways to influence and stimulate your audience’s imagination and emotions. It’s crucially important that you master how to tell the story of your personal brand well, to effectively gain interest, engage, persuade and influence.

The art of storytelling is absolutely essential, because it sparks feelings of loyalty and deepens emotional connections with your prospects and clients – the big mistake too many entrepreneurs, business owners, consultants and coaches make is creating and communicating with dull power-point presentations, pointless brochures and uninspiring websites, that are filled with boring facts about them, trite jargon and clichéd buzzwords, in an attempt to impress.