In the age of social media, online profiles have become the norm. With the growth of the brand economy, having a digital footprint essentially means you have a personal brand. “A brand is a promise. A good brand is a promise kept”, said Muhtar Kent. So what promises have you made to yourself and are you keeping them? How much of your brand remains true to you?
Your personal brand, believe it or not, has become commercialized, whether you monetize it or not. Corporates spend insane amounts of money on brand influencers, data analytics and tracking your online habits and patterns through search engines, all to the effect of positioning their value offering to influence and match your socio-economic inclinations. Even recruitment specialists look at online profiles to gauge your professional suitability as an employment candidate. So naturally, a personal brand can evolve over time to appeal to the vast market and spaces where you do life and aspire to do life.
But somewhere on the road to personal branding, you can or may lose sight of yourself. There is just too many voices, too many noises and too many choices that can make it easy to lose yourself. If this is you, then perhaps it is time you reclaim the person in your personal brand. Go back to the vision board or take some ‘me time’ and rediscover what makes your personal brand YOU. I’d like to share some ways on how you can ensure that your online persona reflects your offline experience.
An excellent brand tells an engaging and original story. Who you are, where you’re from and who you hope to become is fundamental to how you tell your story because this is your DNA – the essence of your personal brand. Consider your identity, heritage and legacy and be willing to confront the difficult, embrace the challenging and celebrate the triumphant aspects of your personal journey. Your experiences are important and your dreams matter and it’s much easier to share what’s truly yours than to fabricate what you think people want to hear.
Proper placement comes down to the right people, the right place and the right plan. Look at the opportunities you pursue, the communities (online and offline) that you inhabit and the responsibilities you take on. These should amplify your passion points and reflect how you do life. Where you are is important for how you’re growing and where you’re going. And yes, it’s easy to compare what the other is doing, living, accomplishing, etc. But that can influence you to reflect more of the same, rather than stand out.
When you’re rightly positioned, you still want to stand out and that’s why differentiation matters. Your distinction is a personal brand value proposition, the unique offering that only you can contribute. This is not just about the value you add to others but more importantly about the value you place on yourself. You cannot give what you do not have. Your value is what you make of it and it will set the tone for how others engage with your personal brand. Evaluate where you’re weak, where you’re strong and where you have room to grow. Then setup a value-add development plan to help you grow.
My go-to rule in maintaining focus is threefold; hindsight, insight and foresight.
Hindsight – Consider how you want to look back on your life and personal development. Weigh your mistakes and the lessons learnt. Revisit those lessons if need be.
Insight – Tap into your lived experience and the dynamics that shape the person you are today. Be present and intuitive because your experience has not necessarily equipped you for the things you don’t know. So, balance your confident flair with a prudential attitude.
Foresight – Cast a vision of your best self and adopt a growth mentality. There is no forward movement without forward planning. So, determine your goals and craft a plan – your personal brand strategy. If you have a plan, it’s easier to anticipate what could go wrong.
Focus ensures that your efforts are invested into relationships and initiatives that provide meaningful engagement, personal development and steadily grow your brand.
In brand management, touchpoints/contact points are the everyday moments and experiences where the brand story is expressed and over time accumulates to build a certain image. If you want to craft the right personal brand image, you must consistently tell your story right, and that means you must stick to a plan. Consider every digital and interpersonal encounter as a touchpoint and make sure your brand speaks in your voice and reflects your identity, always. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If your walk and talk are in sync, you become more attractive, credible and trustworthy and your personal brand becomes solid.
Personal branding shouldn’t be reduced to a clinical marketing ploy. This is about you so have some fun and give it an individualized touch. Bring out the quirky side of you. Share your accomplishments and challenges. Put your favourites on display and amplify the things that make you come alive. It is your brand. Make it personal.