Personal branding – 5 things to get right to achieve your goals

“To thine own self be true” – Shakespeare

Personal branding is the process of building a unique brand around you as an individual and follows the same concepts as developing a brand around a product or business.

And, just as in business, Personal branding is becoming increasingly important because the complexity of modern life means audiences look to brands they can trust when making decisions.

The importance of trust in today’s brand marketing cannot be over-emphasised.

In addition, branding for individuals and businesses has reached a new level of complexity because of the rise of the Internet. The interplay between the real and the virtual world means you have to think about the need to manage multiple identities consistently.

For instance, employers are increasingly using social media tools in order to vet potential job applicants.

5 things to get right

  1. The elevator pitch

The quote from Shakespeare above means two things – you have to understand who you are and what you do, and then you have to present it authentically and consistently.

One way to do this is to write a personal statement. Think of it like an elevator pitch.

You are in an elevator with a potential client and you have 15 seconds between floors to tell them who you are, what you do, how you can help them.

What would you say?

Think about:

  • Your skills
  • Problems you can solve
  • Who would benefit
  • Your USP – what makes you different?

This is all about your professional reputation, so you need to be critical of yourself and ensure what you offer can be delivered.

  1. The Proposition

Like all good branding statements, you need to sum up your brand in a single phrase or sentence which encapsulates the offer you are making to customers.

There are lots of examples out there, but here’s mine:

I’m Ivor Lawrence and my company is called Underlying Form. I believe passionately in the power of brand strategies to transform companies, connect with their customers and motivate their workforce.

It’s a core to your business – a brand is a promise kept.

I specialise in helping organisations develop strong brands and improve the effectiveness of their marketing activity by focusing on re-discovering their vision

Once you have developed who you are and what you do, you can use the proposition just the same as in branding a product to produce consistent communications and messages and to answer the dreaded first question in any conversation – “Tell me about yourself/ your business”

  1. Start thinking of yourself as a brand

What do you want people to think when they hear your name?

My boss in an advertising agency I worked for called it “The drawer in the mind”. So, when people think about cars or insurance, or plumbers or consultants, they open the drawer in their mind with those headings and ask themselves two questions:

  • Who have I heard of?
  • What do I know about them?

Once you start to think of yourself as a brand, you can start to be more strategic and more creative about how you promote yourself.

You need to audit your existing footprint – what is your online presence? Do you present yourself consistently across platforms?

Do you have a simple on-line profile/web site you can refer people to?

  1. Promote yourself

Think about your audiences, the ways to reach them and the messages you want them to hear.

For instance, LinkedIn is a great networking tool for professionals which enables you to develop a profile, connect with potential clients and promote yourself through blogs and articles.

However, you have to focus on your brand, your audience and your offer otherwise you can end up with a large, unstructured network of acquaintances.

Find ways to produce value by creating content which is useful to people – this article is an example. This is not about selling. This is about sharing your knowledge and showcasing your expertise to build your reputation.

Be thoughtful about what you share and where you share it. Every tweet you send, every blog you publish, every comment you make on other people’s blogs contributes to your personal brand. But this isn’t a negative issue – all these instances are a positive opportunity to present yourself and your ideas widely and consistently.

  1. Walk the talk

 A strong personal brand has a story and a personality as well as skills and experience.

Think about Richard Branson, David Beckham, and Muhammed Ali.

All these people have a skill set which set them apart, but they also have a story and a way of presenting themselves consistent with that story.

Branson is an entrepreneur, an iconoclast and someone who likes to work for the customer and take risks to make things better. This is presented consistently form his business dealings through his personal exploration challenges to the things he writes.

Look at some of the great figures from history and the presentation devices they used to get their message across and present themselves in a memorable way (consistent with their proposition):

  • Churchill with his cigar, two finger salute and bowler hat which immediately said stubbornness, pugnacious, strength and self-belief
  • Ghandi with his simple loin cloth and spinning wheel which portrayed him as a simple man of the people, non-violent, and not swayed by self-enrichment
  • John F Kennedy with his youthful image, glamorous lifestyle and positive vision for the future

These may be extreme examples, but they show the need to think about the image you give people and how it is consistent with what you are offering.

So there you have it. 5 things to think about when it comes to personal branding and how it can help you achieve your goals.

Please visit my web site to find out more about who I am and what I do

www.underlyingform.co.uk

5 step brand strategy template

“Brands exist because they make choice easier, more certain and more rewarding.”

Naomi Klein No Logo

 A brand is the most important asset to any company. A good brand strategy template not only articulates what the company offers and allows clear and consistent messages, it also acts as a rallying point for staff and improves engagement.

The best definition I have seen of a brand  is:

A brand is far more than a logo – it is a promise kept.

Any successful branding process will take a “deep dive” into the organisation and ask some searching questions about what it is and what it does.

There are many different models for developing a brand strategy – my preference is to structure it around the following topics and questions:

Brand Vision

What type of organisation do we want to be? What are we in business for? This is perhaps the most difficult part of the process and is about the “Why”

Why should customers want to engage with you?

In today’s market place, some of the most successful companies are those with a clear value proposition, a raison d’etre. Whether it is Apple with its core values of we want to think differently, challenge convention and work for consumers or Nike everyone can be a hero and achieve their goals, offering customers the  “why” is the most powerful part of your brand strategy

Brand Values

It’s about how we behave and what we hold dear

This is important both to your customers and staff: following on from your vision, the values reflect how you will do things and the way the organisation (and staff) responds to customers.

To go back to the Nike example, their values are about exercise being fun and about everyone reaching their potential or Apple thinking differently and challenging convention.

Virgin values are about fun, Value for Money, challenging convention

So what are the core values in the business which will help deliver your vision?

Brand Positioning

At this stage, we are looking at how we would like customers to feel about us and how can we benefit them. So the next step is to articulate the brand in two parts – brand essence and proposition.

The brand essence takes all the work done so far and articulates in a few words the core of who you are and how you benefit customers.

Think of Nike “everyone can be a hero and achieve their goals” or Virgin “challenge perception”.

This leads to a proposition which is the offer you are making to customers. Think of it as the corner of their mind you want to occupy. When they think of your brand, what immediately comes to mind?

Nike’s proposition is “if you have a body, you’re an athlete”

Virgin’s Proposition is “Don’t just play the game, change it for good”

These simple statements can be given to communications agencies to develop powerful brand messages. Tesco’s proposition “no one tries harder for their customers” led to the incredibly successful “Every little helps”

Brand Strengths

What are the strengths the brand has or will need to deliver the vision?

Here we need to carry out SWOT analysis, look at customer perceptions, carry out competitor audits and examine our operations.

Are we in a position to deliver the brand and the promise we have articulated? What do we need to change or improve in order to do so?

Brand Personality

Only after we have done the previous steps can we turn our attention to the visible brand identity – the feel, tone of voice and corporate identity.

The brand personality concerns the overall image of a business in the minds of its stakeholders and has three  components: Design (logos, colours); Communication (advertising, Public Relations) and behaviours (Personality, Values, Mission )

These need to be based on the proposition and values and presented coherently and consistently.

To sum it all up, I have a simple formula which is credibility+visibility= profitability.

This is the essence of a good brand strategy.

Good luck!