Personal branding is a journey. There are three main steps: Self Discovery, Communication Plan, and finally Alignment. This is the first part in a series that will dive deeper into personal branding.
Let’s start with the basics – what is branding? According to Entrepreneur.com branding is “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products “
Let’s apply that to you as the product – then ask yourself this question “What differentiates me from others that provide my same services/skills/knowledge?” This is where we will start the personal branding journey. Read the following article and use the Personal Branding Self Assessment.
In this part you really identify three things. Who you are, how you want to be perceived, and how others perceive you today. This journey starts with self awareness.
The Who: In other words, who are you today?
When you look at this question, you want to throw out who you think you should be – or what you believe others want you to be. You want to be honest with yourself and acknowledge both your strengths and weaknesses.
Think about all of who you are and your different roles in your life – spouse, parent, employee, leader, participant, child, confidant, friend, etc. The truth of who you are will permeate all roles to some degree.
Many people spend a lot of time and thought around this initially. Who you are will also change and develop as you live your life and have different experiences. This is a normal progression of life and so this step must be revisited occasionally.
who you are will also change and develop as you live your life
For the purposes of branding – you want to boil it down to 5 descriptive words that align the most to who you are today.
Your Desired Brand: In other words, how do you want people to think of you? What do you want them to see/feel/experience when they hear your name?
Which parts of you do you want to be noticed, and which parts would you rather others didn’t see?
Maybe you make 2 lists – of things you like others to recognize about you and maybe some things that you would rather people not know about you. When you apply this to your “personal brand” – which ones are appropriate in each role in your life. You can have a personal brand – or how you want others to see you; that will show certain attributes more than others. Please be aware that you cannot without great energy be a DIFFERENT person in different areas of your life.
Maybe you are an extremely caring individual – at work as a leader you want this to come out in the area of people development; whereas at home in the parental role maybe this will be expressed in supporting a child through a difficult relationship. You are still you in both areas, but who you are is expressed in different ways in different roles in your life.
For the purposes of branding – you want to boil it down to 5 descriptive words that align the most to how you want others to perceive you.
Today’s Brand: In other words, how do others perceive you today?
There are some expensive fancy assessments that send surveys to people you identify, compile the results, and tell you what others think about you. If you have access to that through a work program or a career coach; feel free to use that method – it will give you about the best unbiased perception possible.
You can achieve nearly the same result by asking some questions, observing others behavior, and watching to genuinely wanting to learn about how people perceive you. This exercise will be nearly impossible, if you watch to bolster your own opinion of how others should perceive you. You must observe with the intent to clearly understand how others perceive you positively and how others perceive you in a way you don’t agree with.
- Watch how people respond to you: Watch people’s body language, the questions they ask you, and generally how they respond to you. For example, if you used the words “trust-worthy” to describe how you want others to see you – watch for behavior in others that would say that they trust you; like telling you personal information, sharing information with you that makes them vulnerable, etc. Also watch for behaviors of people that would show a lack of trust; like keeping information from you or not coming to you with issues, etc.
- Ask people for candid feedback: Be willing to ask people for feedback on the different descriptive words. For example if you used “gets results” as a description for how you want others to perceive you. Maybe asking people in what areas you “get results” – also ask them what areas you don’t get the results they are looking for.
- Ask people what others are saying about you: This works pretty well if you have solid trusting relationships with those you are asking. If the person you are asking thinks you will fly off the handle or go to the other person to confront them – you aren’t going to get an honest response; and it would be best to skip this idea. You can ask some questions like this – “How do you think the VP perceives my value in the organization?” “What do you think I need to do to increase how the VP perceives my value in the organization?”. Don’t be attached to what they tell you – just get the information at this point and digest it later. Don’t argue, get defensive, or tell them why their assessment isn’t accurate – you need this information to better understand your current branding situation.
Now that you have completed the self discovery – section of the Personal Branding Journey – stay tuned for the second part in the series around communication plan.
In the meantime, maybe you want to ask some questions around this or any other article – feel free to reach out to me directly!