Personal branding is one of those words that get thrown around that only a few people know its meaning. Do you have a personal brand? How can you tell if your personal brand is growing? Who needs a personal brand? These are the questions on the minds of many entrepreneurs, but most don’t seek answers. Nobody was born knowing how to build a personal brand, so it is worth learning about.
Your personal brand is the reputation you have with your audience. Or as Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, puts it, “What people say about you when you’re not in the room.” It is your audience’s perception of you. It is what comes to mind when they see your face or hear your name. It is how they perceive you when they come in contact with you or with your work. That is your personal brand.
It doesn’t matter that you want people to see you as a courageous person who overcame obstacles to build a business. If they see you as just another hustler trying to survive, that’s your personal brand. Everybody has a personal brand, because everybody has a reputation. It’s not a question of if you have a personal brand or not – because you do. The real question is: Does your personal brand align with how you want your audience to perceive you? If it does, good job! Continue to grow your personal brand. If it does not, you only have two options:
- Ignore your personal brand, leaving it to chance, so that it’s random, negative or misleading.
- Make an intentional effort to align your personal brand with who you really are.
Option two is personal branding.
Personal branding is everything you do to present and promote yourself, such that you are remembered for something specific whenever people see your face or hear your name. It is the intentional process of discovering your unique combination of skills, values, experience, and personality traits, and communicating that value to your audience.
So you see, personal branding is more than updating your LinkedIn profile or posting “deep” quotes on Instagram. It goes beyond nicknaming your self “Queen of this” or “King so-and-so.” Personal branding is about taking control of your reputation.
Personal Branding vs. Personal Brand
Personal Branding is the process of establishing a personal brand. While personal branding is the process, a personal brand is the result. Your personal brand is the popular opinion and perception of you but personal branding is how you influence those perceptions.
It’s not only about colors and fonts – anyone can hire a great designer. It is the sum of your identity, experience, expertise, personal story, and achievements. You’re never going to finish building your personal brand. As you grow and change your business, your personal brand will also evolve, and that’s okay.
Why personal branding should be your priority
In a world where anybody can learn what you know and buy the same tools you use, you need to stand out from everybody else. According to a Nielson Consumer Survey, 90 percent of buyers trust messages from an individual they know. That means that if you own a business, you have a higher chance of winning people’s trust if they feel like they know you. You need to make sure the right people identify, remember and prefer you to others who do what you do. The only way to do that is through personal branding.
Many people shy away from personal branding because they think it is all about bragging and self-promotion. While there is nothing wrong with self-promotion, personal branding is more than that. It is about communicating the unique personality and gifts you have for the benefit of those who need it. You can build a personal brand without compromising your values or changing who you are. In fact, that’s the only way to do it.