Branding is usually associated with companies, products and organizations, but today it is more and more important for individuals to establish a personal brand. In my line of work, my personal brand is critical to my success, so we actively cultivate the Bob Pritchard brand. According to an AVG study, 92 percent of children under the age of two already have a digital footprint. In fact, due to our exposure through digital media, almost everyone has the basis of their personal brand. Now you can cultivate and fashion it to provide a powerful force for your future or you can allow it to form haphazardly, primarily by others.
Firstly, you need to think of yourself as a brand
What do you want people to associate with you when they think of your name? Is there a certain subject matter in which you want to be perceived as an expert or are there general qualities you want linked to your brand? Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your personal brand. A strong personal brand can yield tremendous ROI whether you are working with an organization or leading one.
Audit your online presence
You can’t mold perception without first understanding the current status. First, Google yourself and setup alerts for your name on a regular basis. If you have a fairly common name then consider using your middle initial or middle name to differentiate. Or, as a very successful and talented friend of ours in the music business did, added an adjective and became “Screaming” Rachael Cain. Cultivating a strong personal brand is just as much about being responsive to what is being said as it is about creating intellectual property.
Secure a personal website
Having a personal website for yourself is one of the best ways to rank for your name on the search engines. It doesn’t need to be robust. It can be a simple two to three page site with your resume, link to your social platforms, and a brief bio. You can always expand on the website with time.
Find ways to produce value
Don’t post utterly mundane or ridiculous crap, find ways to add value to your audience by creating or curating content that’s in line with your brand.
Be purposeful in what you share
Every tweet you send, every status update you make, every picture you share, contributes to your personal brand. Your brand is an amalgamation of multiple daily actions. Once you understand how you want your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about how and what you share or post.
Associate with other strong brands
Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other brands. Find and leverage strong brands which can elevate your own personal brand. Start with the three C’s: company, college, colleagues. Which school did you attend? Are there groups you can join? An alumni newsletter you can contribute to? What hidden opportunities are available within your company which you have yet to tap? Consider submitting a guest post to the company blog or look at other digital assets you can connect to your brand.
A strong personal brand is dependent on a strong narrative. In other words, what’s your story? Take a second to think of celebrities you know who have a strong personal brand. Mark Cuban. Martha Stewart. Richard Branson. They all have a very clear story and a consistent brand. If you have multiple passions or areas of interest, a narrative becomes even more crucial so there can be unified theme.
Most importantly, remember that a strong personal brand should be ubiquitous and ever evolving.