Personal Branding 101 – What and Why.

Everyone wants to have an outstanding personal brand. Well almost everyone anyway.

Why wouldn’t you? Your brand is fundamentally your reputation.

A strong personal brand can open all sorts of doors … people want to be associated with you and are happy to recommend and connect you to opportunities.

Conversely, if your personal brand is not so great … you may find it harder to open those doors, and even though you know people who could help you, they are not willing to risk their own personal brand and go out on a limb for you.

So have you ever stopped to think about what your personal brand actually is … especially when it comes to your career?

It is easy to consider your personal brand to be the image you put out to the world.

For example, do you make a point of always being impeccably dressed because perfection is an important part of your brand? Or do you want to be known as a creative, therefore you ensure your appearance clearly communicates this? Perhaps you want to be seen as a super smart intellectual … so you ensure you portray that image.

However, whilst appearance and personality are a part of your personal brand, they are in fact only a small part. Yes – on the surface you may look perfect, creative or intellectual – and this may be easy to convey on Instagram – but in real life, your look and feel is, what an old colleague used to like to call, window dressing.

Your true personal brand goes much much deeper than this.

Your personal brand is that “thing” which arrives wherever you go before you do and remains after you are gone. It’s how people talk about you and the traits and characteristics you are known and remembered for.

And it is fundamentally created by two things:

1 // Your own actions and behaviours.

2 // How other people perceive your actions and behaviours.

Your own actions and behaviours.

Let’s go back to our original examples above.

Your look may convey that you are a perfectionist. Your makeup is perfect, your clothes are pristine, your nails are always manicured. Everything about you screams perfection. Yet at work where you are a copywriter … you do have great ideas and you do write awesome articles and you manage to do so at an incredible speed. Yet … neither grammar or spelling are your strength. You often make mistakes.

You might be awesome … but your action and behaviour does not match up with perfection.

On the other hand, you want to be seen as a creative. Your looks and feel screams quirky and out there … and everything you do backs this up. You have “out there” ideas, you are constantly thinking outside of the box, and you are willing to go against the grain if you think your idea might get you to your desired outcome.

You are creative through and through … your actions 100% match your look and feel.

The image that you desire has to be backed up by your own actions and behaviours … and whilst we all have those inner desires on how we want to be perceived, when it comes to personal branding, we have to dig deep and be honest with ourselves. Can we live up to the image we are portraying, or do we perhaps need to tweak the image slightly so they are indeed one and the same?

How other people perceive your actions and behaviours.

Let’s take a final look at our original example above and our intellectual friend.

He’s smart. Achieved a super high GPA all through university … he really does know a lot of stuff … about almost everything. Any discussion at work he has an opinion on. When people are wrong, he wastes no time in correcting them. He is never ever wrong himself, and does not like to like to ever be contradicted.

When his colleagues talk about him … yes they do use the word smart and intellectual … but they also use accompanying words such as pain-in-the-ass, stubborn and arrogant.

And for our second example, I thought we would have a bit of fun and have a little look at the personal brand of none other than Donald Trump. 

Some of the ways Donald Trump describes himself (and please note these are direct quotes): 

* “I am a very stable genius.”

* “Nobody knows banking better than I do.”

* “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

* “I know more about renewables than any human being on earth.”

* “I’m very highly educated. I know words – I have the best words.”

 As for how other people perceive his actions and behaviours, well, I will leave it up to you to decided if there is synergy with the above or not.

Okay so both of these are fairly exaggerated examples, but they do well to get my point across. No matter how you perceive yourself … a significant part of your personal brand is dictated by how others perceive you, your actions and your behaviours!

So when it comes to defining and reflecting upon your personal brand, take some time to not only consider how you want to be perceived but also reflect honestly on how others might perceive you and what you may need to change or adjust to bring everything into alignment!