So Much More than the Brands You Wear
By Brenda Bence
hear the words personal branding, do you think, “That’s for
people who are into how they dress,” or “That’s for people who are
into self-promotion?” Unfortunately, those are just two of the myths
that people often believe about personal branding. As a result of
these myths, the concept of personal branding has gotten a bit of a
bad rap that it simply doesn’t deserve. Let’s put these myths to
rest once and for all and uncover what true personal branding is
really all about.
Myth #1: “Personal Branding is all about how you look and dress.”
Let’s say you buy a car just because of its looks. You then
discover that, while it’s beautiful on the outside, it gets lousy
gas mileage and sends you repeatedly to the mechanic. That would
certainly change how you feel about your beautiful new car, wouldn’t
is true of personal branding. A great “look” might fool someone
briefly but will only get you so far. If the individual underneath
that look can’t deliver, it isn’t going to fool anyone for long.
True personal branding has much more depth than that.
look is one element of your personal brand. After all, if
you’re trying to convey a personal brand of “impeccable accuracy,”
and you dress in a sloppy way, that look clearly won’t represent
your personal brand well. On the other hand, if you dress impeccably
but don’t perform impeccably, that won’t work either.
personal brand extends far beyond just your look. It includes how
you perform, who you are, what you can offer, and what makes you
distinctive in the work place. In short, your personal brand is all
about your uniqueness, your strengths, your talents, and what you
want to be known for on the job. It’s about so much more than a
great power suit or a designer tie!
#2: “Personal Branding is all about self-promotion.” This
couldn’t be further from the truth! Smart personal branding isn’t
about marketing yourself in an obvious or intrusive way. You can
consciously, but subtly, communicate your personal brand through the
five key activities you do every day: your actions, reactions, look,
sound, and thoughts.
these activities, you can exemplify and live your brand every single
day without the need to blow your own horn. As a result, those
around you will simply become more and more aware of the
contribution you can make in the workplace, for example. Your boss,
colleagues, and customers will begin to notice you more, and they
will begin to count on you to deliver in the areas that you have
defined for your personal brand.
#3: “Personal branding is all about me.” Some people believe
that personal branding is self-centered and all about “me, me, me,”
but the truth is: Good, strategic personal branding starts first
and foremost with your audience. Who is your audience? It’s the
person or people you most want to impact in your career, and your
brand already exists in their minds in the way they perceive,
think, and feel about you.
illustrate this by thinking about corporate brands for a moment. In
branding, perception is everything. You can have a great product,
but if the public’s (audience’s) perception of the brand is
negative, there’s no avoiding it: Your product will ultimately not
is true of personal branding. You should first determine your
audience’s needs and make sure you fill those needs… just
like a top, name-brand shampoo might fill a consumer’s need for
shiny, healthy hair. If you can successfully meet your audience’s
needs, you will be the person called on again and again to get the
job done … and promotions, accolades, and raises are sure to follow.
Myth #4: “Creating a personal brand is being fake.”
Personal branding is often misjudged as something superficial. Yes,
personal branding is about your audience and how they perceive,
think, and feel about you. But that doesn’t mean you focus on
pleasing your audience to the detriment of yourself. If your
personal brand is a façade, you’re going to be a very unhappy
the truth: You must be authentic to be true to your personal
brand. Yes, you must offer something of value to your audience
that fills their needs. That’s primary. But what you offer is based
on who you are as an individual, not some character that you
have created because you believe it’s what your audience wants. If
the only way you can be happy in your job is to project a fake
personal brand that has nothing to do with your personality, you
definitely need to rethink your job and/or your career.
#5: “I don’t need – or even want – a Personal Brand.” Are you
someone who thinks you don’t need or even want a personal brand? If
so, consider this: If your personal brand is the way your audience
perceives, thinks, and feels about you, then that perception of you
is already out there. Indeed, you already have a personal
brand - it exists in the mind of your audience.
everyone – including you – already has a personal brand. Simply by
being yourself in the work place, you have created a brand without
realizing it. Does this realization excite you…. or make you a bit
you’re not completely in charge of your personal brand, it is
probably already out there, running amuck, creating an image that
isn’t exactly what you would like it to be. In fact, your current
personal brand may be preventing you from reaching your full career
potential. Only when you learn how to carefully define and
communicate your desired personal brand can you take control
of it and make it work for you. Only then can you make sure that the
way your audience perceives, thinks, and feels about you is the way
you want it to be - beneficial to you.
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