The Top 10 Secrets to Mastering Your Personal Brand
By Brenda Bence
What do Sir Richard Branson, Barack
Obama and Suze Orman all have in common? They have each built
powerful personal brands that have propelled them to the top of
their businesses, their careers, and their lives. How did they do
Like other successful personal
branders, they took the time to define, communicate, and protect
their brands. You can be sure they followed all of the top 10
secrets below to reach their great success. There’s no magic to it:
You can apply the same personal branding principles to your work and
life not only to achieve your goals, but to surpass them.
Secret #1: You already have a personal brand whether you want one or
not – simply by virtue of being you in the workplace. It’s up to
you to determine where your personal brand is strong and where it
could use improvement. Then, it’s up to you to make changes as
necessary to make it as strong as possible.
Secret #2: Your personal brand exists in the minds of others
in the way they perceive, think, and feel about you. Think
about your favorite corporate brand for a moment. It can be the best
“functioning” product of its kind in the world, but if the public
fails to perceive it as the best, it won’t be successful. So,
it’s critical to keep in mind that your personal brand is now what
you think it is but it’s what others perceive it to
Secret #3: A common misconception about personal branding is
that it’s self-centered and all about you. But the truth is:
personal branding is all about your Audience – the
person or people you most want to impact with your brand at work and
in your career. Just as corporate branders must offer a benefit to
consumers in order for a product to be a success, you must fill a
need your Audience has in order for your personal brand to be a
success on the job.
Since your personal brand exists in
the minds of your Audience, the only way to determine if your brand
is successful is to find out how your Audience perceives you.
If there is a gap between what your Audience thinks and feels about
you and what you want them to think and feel about you, your
personal brand should be adjusted and strengthened.
The only way to have a strong
personal brand is to carefully define it. Many people
believe that personal branding is all about how you “execute” your
brand, but true personal branding starts with a crystal clear
definition. Until you define it, your brand is just a vague premise
with no real foundation. No corporate marketer would dream of
putting a product in the marketplace without a clear definition of
the brand. That definition tells the marketer which consumers to
target and where to focus advertising dollars. On a personal level,
your own brand should do the same.
Secret #6: The best brands respond
to both emotional and functional needs.
In the workplace, functional needs are the tasks you perform on the
job and are typically listed in your job description. The emotional
needs that you fill forge a very important connection with your
Audience. For example, if two accountants are equally qualified, the
one with a stronger personal brand will be the one who is reliable
and precise. That accountant’s Audience can relax in the knowledge
that the work will not only be done, but will be done on time and
Secret #7: The best personal
brands are credible, so you must prove that you can deliver
what you promise. It isn’t
enough to simply say that you can fill a need at work; you
must show that you have the experience and/or training to do
it. Help to prove it with your
background, your education, and the unique qualifications you bring
to the job.
Secret #8: Your personal brand is built 24/7 and 365 days per year
through what you say, but even more importantly, through what you
do. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be human or make mistakes,
but it means that you need to think about behaviors that could
damage your brand. Even when you’re not on the job, if someone sees
you drinking too much at the local pub, it could get back to your
manager … who might begin to wonder about your reliability. No need
to be paranoid, per se, but unless you’re behind closed doors, make
sure to think before you act.
While it’s important to avoid
negative behaviors that can undermine your brand, it is also
important to be consistent in how you communicate your
brand. If Nike’s ads suddenly focused on encouraging you to
become a couch potato, you wouldn’t know what to think, would you?
Just as Nike is consistent in promoting sports and fitness in all of
its advertising, you must be consistent in how you present your
personal brand every day at work.
Even though your personal brand is
all about your Audience, it never makes sense to pretend to be
someone you’re not. You won’t be happy in your career, and it’s
hard to remain consistent with a “fake” personal brand. So, the task
is to find out what your Audience needs, and align those needs with
your own unique strengths and your unique character
traits. Your personal brand will then reflect who you really are,
which will not only bring you greater success in your career, but
greater fulfillment as well.
You don’t have to be famous like Suze
Orman or Barack Obama to benefit from defining, communicating, and
protecting your personal brand. But you can certainly learn from
their examples and take advantage of the same personal branding
secrets that have helped these heavy hitters reach their full
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