A great personal brand combines both your professional and personal qualities and acts as your personal mission and vision statement, letting others know both what you have to offer now, and where you see yourself in the future. An effective brand should express your vision of the ‘good life’ and how you define success and make it clear to people what actions you take to realise this. It should communicate the best elements of your personality and passions and how you use these to create value in your professional life. If you try to develop your brand around something other than your genuine personality, chances are it will fall flat and appear artificial and insincere; personal brands are most valuable when they are authentic and reflect your inherent qualities, skills, and values.
Because of this, it’s important that you don’t feel compelled to conform to others expectations of your career choices because your unique perspective on the world is exactly what makes you so valuable. Innovation and creativity are skills which are almost universally valued by employers and in this regard, you’re already one step ahead of the game – your life experiences and talents give you a one of a kind perspective on the world. Use this to your advantage when developing your brand and shout loud and clear about what sets you apart from the other candidates.
Your brand should let the world know why you do what you do, and this is the most important element. We are instinctively attracted to people who explain their motivations as we feel they are more honest, reliable and authentic and this “why” element is leveraged by all successful brands in their marketing. If people resonate with your motivations, chances are they will want to support you and help you out in achieving your goals. If you’re looking for more information about motivation and how brands have used them to successful market themselves check out Simon Sinek’s excellent Ted Talk "How great leaders inspire action".
Developing a dazzling personal brand takes time and a lot of self-reflection but if you’re looking for a quick fix whilst preparing for an interview or networking opportunity follow these five steps to connect with your own personal “why”.
What values drive me? These could be, for example, creativity, dedication, flexibility, corporate success, honesty, integrity or anything else you can think of. The values you choose cross-over your personal and professional life and aren’t dependent on a particular job role. They should express your perspective on the world and why you choose to act in certain ways other than others.
What are my passions? It’s important to think about the things that you love doing because these also reveal some unique elements of your personality. Is there any way you could integrate your passions into your professional life? We work best when we do something we enjoy so thinking about what you like to do in your day to day life is often a recommended part of the personal branding process.
Although it might seem like your hobbies and career are miles apart from each other, your likes and dislikes inform your character and tell you something about how you work and where you excel. If you love team sports, chances are you enjoy a healthy dose of competition and working as a team, if you love trying out new recipes, you’re probably good at coming up with fresh ideas.
What are my talents? This could be a combination of the skills you have learned at university or in your work experience, or it could be more personal qualities that you’ve cultivated over the years. Is there anything that people always compliment you on? Are you a fantastic listener, great at getting a task done quickly, or a natural leader? If so, this could be an important element in cultivating your brand image.
4. Mission statement
What is my mission statement? Or, how can I combine my values and talents to bring value to a company or person? Channel JFK and ask not what the world can do for you but what you can do for the world! Thinking about what you have to offer will make sure that your brand is appealing to others, rather than just being focused on what you want to achieve.
In effect, an ideal job should be one where your values, passions and talents overlap, and although this might sound far-fetched thinking about this is often enough to encourage people to begin working towards including all of these elements in their professional life.
5. Brand statement and tagline
Once you’ve spent some time thinking about these questions, try to combine your insights into a few sentences or paragraph which describes the ideas you have outlined. This is your brand statement and includes all the essential information about what you offer. If you’re satisfied with your brand statement see if it’s possible to come up with a tagline.If you’ve managed to come up with a very long list of qualities and talents (well done you!) it might be a challenge to try and condense this into just a few words that describe you, but it will really help you outdo the competition. A tagline is a real asset in communicating your brand identity – some of the world’s most ubiquitous brands have taglines of less than five words but which work to make them instantly recognisable.
Once you’ve developed your tagline you can use this on all of the “material components” of your brand such as your CV, cover letter, business cards, personal web page, social media profiles, e-mail signature and professional photo. The more consistent the image is that you present across these platforms the better! Your brand functions as your personal mission statement and shows that you should be taken seriously as someone determined to work on their skills and competencies. Even if you miss out on a job opportunity, this time, employers are likely to remember a candidate who has gone the extra mile to think about their goals and objectives
If you aren’t totally convinced just think about how much of a confidence boost it can be when networking to feel sure of yourself when introduced to new people. It can be intimidating to tell someone about your skills and qualities when you’re feeling nervous and under time pressure. Working on your tag line in advance will ensure you’re always prepared to tell people a little bit about yourself. It’s likely that your tagline will be a lot more memorable than something you’ve just come up with on the spot. Having a brand shows that you’ve spent some time thinking about your unique qualities and skills and how you can package these to clearly communicate them to employers. So why not take action today and show the world what you can do? Happy branding!