History of personal branding
Personal branding is a term that dates back to 1937 in the book Think and Grow by Napolean Hill. While its reference may not be specific to the modern age we live in today, its implications still stand strong.
The title for this article was inspired by a 1997 Fast Company article that first sheds light on the idea of YOU as a brand. In 2021 we are all too familiar with what a brand name stands for. Names such as Nike, Michael Kors, Ben & Jerrys and thousands of others. So much so that our interactions with these brands over the years have created a set of expectations. Expectations in terms of the experience we demand from these brands. How a retail store would look, the quality of the products they deliver and even so the values that they stand for.
We as individuals are CEOs of the Brand called YOU. Your name is your brand’s name. Your values are your brand’s values. While you may think that who you are, is your own brand, I disagree. Brand Strategist Marty Neumeier has a very interesting quote on what a brand is. “A brand is a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service or company… It is not what YOU say it is. It is what THEY say it is.”
This article is aimed to help you think differently as you embark on this newfound journey of building an experience that reflects your true nature.
- The Who? – It is critical to identify who your ideal target audience is. In order to truly build a connection with this audience, you should be able to empathize with their problems. You should be able to show that you have been in their shoes or that your experiences help you best understand the struggles that your audience faces. Doing so makes you a part of their lives, homes and hearts. This helps reduce the risk that people might associate with potentially interacting with your brand or learning from you. By including empathy into your consideration of building your personal brand, you are at the forefront of creating a distinction between you and those who are one-sided with their thoughts and opinions.
- Building your community – Mobilizing those who find your cause, valuable and getting them to bring others into your movement, is how successful personal brands are built. Word of mouth is one way to go but for you data nerds out there, ‘shares’ is the metric you want to keep an eye on. How much of your content is being shared by your audience to others?
- Being Omnipresent – Omnichannel experiences is what the present is all about. In 2021 technology helps you do this easier than ever. As a rule of thumb, I suggest having at least 3 channels through which your audience can interact with your brand. For myself personally, these are LinkedIn, Instagram and my official website. In doing so you empower your customers to pick their own journeys as they interact with your brand. These points of interaction are what we call, customer touchpoints.
- Collaborate for progression – Hiring a coach was the best thing I ever did for myself. If you are new on this journey, find someone who can guide you and help you progress. Those who have travelled before you are in the best position to show you the way.