The Importance of the Brand Called You
In 1997, Fast Magazine published an article by business author and speaker Tom Peters called The Brand Called You. In the article, Peters said, "Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."
Fast forward 20 years and the term 'personal branding' has certainly come a long way, and it's now a strategy being deployed not only by corporate executives and entrepreneurs but by social media superstars and even high school students applying to university. Often given a bad rep as a self-serving or, dare we say it, dated, popularity contest for fame seekers, in laymen's terms, personal branding is simply how people describe you and think about you when you're not around.
While you may think that personal branding is completely unnecessary for you, if you use Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other web-based platform that requires some of your private information, your persona is already being documented somewhere online – so you have a personal brand, to some degree, whether you want one or not.
The question simply remains whether you want to play a conscious and proactive role in shaping it, or not. Here are a few reasons why we think being mindful of your personal brand can positively impact your business or career.
1. It Builds Trust
If people are thinking about reaching out to you, hiring you or buying from you, they're going to check you out online first. Having a personal brand means that potential employers, customers and clients can easily find you online, get to know you before they meet you – and, most importantly, see what differentiates you from the competition. Having a website [preferably with your full name as the domain] so that people can learn about the person behind the brand is a good starting point. As is ensuring that you have a consistent, professional-looking presence on your social media platforms, i.e. using the same avatar and cover image wherever you can, so that people know exactly who they're dealing with, no matter where they search for you.
2. You Make Better Connections
We've said it before, and we'll say it again. People don't connect with companies; they connect with people. More and more, people want to know what you stand for before they commit to becoming a customer or partner. Having a personal brand helps you put your values out there for the world to see, and in doing so, helps you to make the right connections with your ideal client, customer, employer [or employee] from the get-go.
3. It Establishes Your Credibility
Content marketing is a good way to build a reputation online; as when people look for information, they tend to go back to sources that were helpful to them. If you can become a trusted source of information through your content, over time you'll become known as the go-to expert in your specific field. Furthermore, search engines love new content. That's one reason why it's worth considering adding a blog to your digital marketing mix, while also giving longevity to all of your other online outposts. Mix personal thoughts, career achievements, industry insights and trending stories with helpful topics to create a well-rounded content plan that will not only enhance your reputation but give people a reason to pay attention to you.
4. It Helps You to Stand Out from the Crowd
Branding today is as much about consistency as it is about differentiation. You have to position yourself in unique ways in order to stand out from others. Everyone has that degree, but do they have a personality? However, it's not a competition to see how visible you can become – for the sake of being visible – it's about helping you to clarify and express the value you can deliver to others. Don't be a robot, be authentic.
5. It's True, You Are What You Wear
Turns out you really can dress for success. Research shows that what you wear has just as much to do with how you're perceived by others as it does on your mindset and productivity. And speaking from experience, there can be a lot of benefit to being a little more strategic in what you wear. Yes, your outfit is a chance to show off a piece of your personality but it can also heavily influence your state of mind. Elizabeth Gilbert gave an example when it comes to finding inspiration, in her book, Big Magic. She shares that whenever she feels sluggish or useless, she tries to remind herself that "you are somebody worth spending time with." She takes a shower, gets dressed, puts on some perfume and even lipstick. In Gilbert's words, it's the "dress for the novel you want to write" theory. Clothes really can maketh the woman [and man] – and a great outfit can make you feel empowered.