Developing a personal brand

‘Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room’ (Jeff Bezos). Have you ever actually thought about what people say about you when you’re not in the room? It’s an interesting (maybe nerve-racking!) thought isn’t it? If you’re like me, you have thought about this—in fact, you probably ponder this thought more often than not.

I was recently invited to speak about personal branding at a Ripple Effect for Leaders Luncheon. I love an opportunity to speak in front of an audience, and was especially excited to speak on a topic I am passionate about.

If you have read my personal brand statement or met me before, you’ll (hopefully!) know that I like to keep things simple and without ‘fluff’ as much as possible. With this in mind, here is the three-step strategy I offered to my audience to create and understand their personal brand.

Step 1 – Product Offering

For a business this would be its product or service; in relation to personal branding this is you. What is your personal brand? Who are you? What is it you want people to say about you when you’re not in the room?! Take a moment now to answer these questions to clarify your product offering. Your answer might include a nicely crafted paragraph, a couple of sentences or maybe just 3-4 key words…it’s up to you – actually it is up to your personal brand!

Step 2 – Target Market

Now you have your product offering sorted, you need to identify who your target market is. Who is it you want saying all those things you just wrote down about you when you’re not in the room? Take a moment now to describe who your target market is, for example, male, female, corporate, old, young, clients, managers or colleagues?

It is important when describing your target market to think back to your product offering description and ask yourself – does my product offering relate to my target market and vice versa? If the answer is yes, well you’re on your way; however, if it doesn’t, you may need to either adjust your target market or your product offering. This is where this process can get hard: for example, if you’re having to adjust your product offering too much, i.e. change who you naturally are, you may need to start to re-think if your target market is truly who you want to be dealing with.

Step 3 – Marketing Plan

Now you’ve got a clarified product offering and target market, the last step is actually telling your target market about you. The trick here is to remember that every brand touch point (you are the brand) you have with your target market is shaping how they perceive you and what they’ll say about you when you’re not in the room! So, every single time you communicate with your target audience you need to be acting as your personal brand. Here’s a list of brand touch points that you are likely to have with your target market:

  • Emails – how do you craft them? What type of tone do you use? What does your email signature look like?
  • Social media – do you post? How often do you post? What type of things do you post and like? Are you active on social media at all?
  • Dress code – what is your dress code? Do you wear a tie? Do you wear heels or flats? Do you wear dangly earrings and your hair out or studs and your hair back?
  • Client interactions – how often to you liaise with a client? Do you call, email or text?

The list could go on! Remember, every brand touch point you have is affecting your personal brand… so make sure your communication is implying what you want it to be.

I imagine as you have been reading this blog you have been thinking about your work setting. This is fine, because you most definitely will have a personal brand for your work life. However, it is also important to remember that you may have more than one product offering. Your personal brand for your work setting may be one product offering, but it is likely you are going to have a personal brand for your home setting. For one, I imagine your target market is going to vary quite a lot from your work to home setting, so you’re going to have to adjust your product offering to align appropriately.

It may also be the case that as you have been reading this blog you have realised that currently your personal brand doesn’t fit right with your target audience or vice versa. That’s okay, don’t stress! There is this wonderful thing out there called re-branding, and you can do that for your personal brand. If you’re going to make a drastic change, it may take a little while for your current target market to adjust to the new you, but that’s okay, they will over time. The good thing is all your future dealings will start fresh with your new personal brand, so they won’t know any different.

Three steps, it’s that simple – hop to it, flaunt your personal brand!

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