Content, Creativity, Image and Imagination

The Question Of Your Personal Brand – Who Are You And Why Should Others Care

Personal branding is a potent brew of a term crafted in 1997 by business management guru Tom Peters mixing together brand strategy, reputation management, digital engagement, career advancement and aspirational goals spiked with as much celebrity stature as you can acquire. Stir in excitement, pour generously.

Personal branding is your authentic self edited, differentiated, amplified and engaged.- but is ultimately determined by your audience. Mostly it’s you messaged and marketed with personality and passion for this new age of career and media connections. In this new era of hyper-aware social media  you have to channel your inner Norma Desmond and say, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. de Mille” because there;s an audience out there wanting to get a good look. 

The experience of you

Your personal brand lives in the middle-distance between what you put out to the world and how the world perceives you. That last bit is the tricky part. Unlike a resume which is a (mostly) static statement of your accomplishments and goals, a personal brand is something an audience affords you more than any individual thing you tell it. This “experience” of you can come in many forms – digital, instructional, emotional, inspirational and as entertainment.

Shaping those perceptions in a positive way is the key goal of personal brand management. Just like you don’t roll out of bed everyday looking perfectly styled, neither does your personal brand value. It’s time to look in the mirror and consider who you really are. And who you want to be. If you can’t see distinction, how can anyone else?

The rise of personal branding

The 20-year rise of personal branding as a motivational career exercise is due to economic dislocations and technological advancements as much as the ever-present human hunger to be liked (the Sally Field factor) The last recession haunts everyone. There’s a general feeling that no job is safe anymore. As manufacturing declines, service-oriented jobs continue to rise – and all the real estate agents, hair stylists, lawyers and bakers and landscapers, mortgage specialists, massage therapists, and management consultants, fashion photographers and fitness instructors rely on trust and likeability to move people to hire them job by job. It’s more than popularity. You want to have an aura of good energy around you. A sheen of excellence. And distinction in what you do.

Fortunately, digital and other media platforms are now more abundant and accessible for sharing words and images about our personal brands. A website is an opportunity to wow an audience. A blog is a guided talk through the world as you see it. Videos can spool out and spark your story. And social media is much more supple in the opportunities it offers to connect with each other. It is there to bend to our will. And our personal brand ways. Share something of value to you and watch how it lights up your audience.

Individuality creates distinction

In my career working with a range of creative and business talents, I’ve found that individuality is quite delicious. It has a unique taste laced with some secret drug. Once fed, we are lured back by the memory of that distinction, that exotic flavour and compelling scent, the Pavlovian need to return to the same supplier of some morsel of goodness. The goal of personal branding is to hook an audience by feeding them a steady and tasty diet of content material.

Keep in mind the essential truth of a personal brand is that it’s as much about your audience as it is about you. Your authenticity, inspiration and promise but their ears, eyes and hearts needed to receive it. You must respect that sensitivity with amazing content. Something your audience will value. Tell great stories, solve real problems, start a conversation. poke their consciousness and encourage their dreams.  If you want people to care, you must be willing to share.

Value something good in the world

With everything I write – whether this blog or content for clients – I hope to spark attention and slow down awareness so people can recognize and value something good in the world. Personal brands should do the same – spark people with a quick hit of your core message and slow them down to see the deeper meaning and pleasures in what you do.

Research shows people are making more purposeful decisions about how they spend their money. The ROI value of conscious capitalism or meaningful brands is backed up by stats showing the advantage many brands are gaining by bringing purpose, empathy and emotion to their content. A 2013 study by HAVAS Media – correlating stats from 700 brands across 23 countries – demonstrate that “meaningful brands” (think Whole Foods or Dove) “outperform the stock market by 120%”.

Even more than corporate brands, personal brands are perfectly suited to communicating a meaningful message because they are based on individual experience. People can relate to people. So make the most of who you are – the best of your self – through your personal brand and reap the rewards. The advantage will be not only greater profit but greater purpose in what you are doing with your life.