In the world today, there are two distinct groups of people, those who understand the power of personal branding and apply it to all facets of their lives, and those who aren’t even aware of it’s existence as a force impacting on their lives on a minute by minute level.
So what is this phenomenon of personal branding? is it real? or another of the plethora of modern clichés stolen from the marketing world and adapted to other uses. At Synergy, we tend to see personal branding as being real, only in as much as a brand in its commercial sense, is an entity with unique positioning in the mind of the consumer, so a person is much the same.
Think of anyone you know and write down the tangible attributes that make that person unique to you and distinctly separate to the other people you know. Just as a brand, such as Coke or Persil may have a physical size, colour and weight, so there are the human equivalent visible attributes, clothing hair colour, height and build etc…
Then think about the elements of the person that are perhaps not as immediately apparent, this may be their disposition, character, experience, sense of humour… you get the idea.
marketers take these elements and create a ‘brand iceberg’ this is simply the attributes that are visible, the top part of the iceberg, combined with the non visible qualities, the hidden part of the iceberg.
The interesting part of personal branding is that if marketers can cleverly manipulate the perceptual elements of a brand so we build a preference for that brand over that of its competition, so it enters our ‘evoked set’ the brands we like and trust. Then can we alter perception on a personal basis so we are perceived differently, getting more buy-in to us?
The answer to this is positively a yes. We are all familiar with how we adapt our personal appearance to create an appropriate look for individual situations such as a wedding, a night out or a job interview. We are altering our physical presence to be perceived in a certain way appropriate to that situation and we do it without consciously thinking in terms of it being our personal branding.
Personal branding is applying a little more attention to the areas of your appearance, attitude and demeanour that interface with other people. In learning in a detailed way how we are likely to be perceived and then altering certain attributes within our ‘brand architecture’ we can create a totally different impression of ourselves.
Success in our lives is often about what happens at key moments, the job interview, the business pitch, the entertaining of clients, all key events that can mean a great deal of success, or frustration and lack of forward progress.
Would I buy me?
A key question within your personal brand is: Would I buy me? a tough question, but if an honest answer is realised and it’s not exactly positive, then it’s a great opportunity to ask yourself why? and start to work on it.
Branding is a complex area of marketing, you can learn the basics in a matter if minutes, it’s the real world application where many companies fail to consistently get it right.
Personal branding is potentially an even more complex area if it is studied in detail. The reason for this is that as humans, we are infinitely more complex than static products and services. As well as this, we are a constantly moving target, changing much more rapidly than your average commercial brand would ever do.
Never the less, we are able to look at the main elements of our personal brand and make adjustments, sometimes very small, sometimes larger, to have a personal brand that works in the way we want it to.
Your brand audit
When you have an understanding of what personal branding is about, it’s a good idea to carry out your own personal ‘brand audit.’
This is simply a look at what makes you, you. What is it that others say or think about you when you are not there? Have you ever considered how you are actually seen by others? what they are really thinking when they associate with you?
It is a good idea to use a professional coach in this area, as you really do get a better input, and you can get a much better idea of the right questions you need to ask, and of course, your personal branding goals and expectations.
To get to another level of success in our lives, it is often said that we should look at the behaviours and habits of successful members of whatever group we are wanting to become part of, and then copy their actions and thought patterns to achieve our own success.
Title, Trappings, Clothing
This is a really good idea, it is often the case that we can easily see evident personal qualities that have made people achieve success, look at people like Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Anita Roddick and consider what qualities are in the make-up of their personal branding, then start to develop your own brand based on these cornerstones.
Title, trappings and clothing go to make up a lot of the factors that rightly or wrongly, we are judged upon. It is therefore a necessity that within any personal branding programme, that these areas are carefully considered.
An appropriate mode of appearance can be chosen to have the right fit with our intentions. Getting it wrong could possibly be a case of unsuccessful ‘brand stretching’ stretching your existing personal brand too far away from your core personal qualities. Another, positive way of stretching your brand might be to contextualise your appearance to different situations you need to perform within, i.e. business and social occasions.
Successful personal brands, just like commercial brands, are the ones based upon good quality, consistency and alignment with core values. If personal branding is to be used as a method of creating a good impression, then that impression is likely to last a great deal longer if your choice of personal brand strategy is easily sustainable for you over the long term.