“How do I create a personal brand?” This is a question I’m often asked in social settings after it’s discovered that I am a brand strategist, and my answer is always “you already have a brand.” It’s surprising to most, but whether you know it or not, you have a personal brand. Brands are not strictly associated with starting or operating a business, your personal brand is established and strengthened based on the interactions you have in your everyday life.
To test this, what thoughts come to mind when I mention the following names? Will Smith, Katie Couric, and Kendall Jenner. I’m sure for most, specific thoughts of each individual come to mind, and it’s solely based on the memories you have of each person. This also applies to you, if people know your name or recognize your face, they hold your brand image in their minds. As additional proof of this, randomly say the name of someone you personally know and pay attention to the thoughts that pop into your mind.
The set of memories that arise in your thoughts comprise your image of that person, their “brand image”. For example, the person you’re thinking of may be extremely physically fit and that’s what they’re typically known for, but if the first thing that comes to your mind is “he’s always rude,” then being rude is part of his brand. So 9 times out of 10, when someone mentions this person, regardless of what he or she says about this individual, one of your responses will be “yeah, but I find him to be rude” and this is based on your personal interactions with this person.
It’s important to keep in mind that what you say matters, what you post on social media matters, how you speak to people matters, your nonverbal communication matters, and so on. All aspects of the way you carry yourself matter, whether verbally or nonverbally, build a case for how others should view you. And the realization of this is important because either you control your brand, or someone else will do it for you.
So, how can you take control of how you’re seen in the eyes of others? Here are three (3) quick and simple ways to take control of your personal brand.
Define What You Value
Authenticity is the cornerstone of personal branding. We all believe and value something. Being authentic starts with having clearly defined values and staying true to them.
Have your actions match those values
After taking time to define and state what you value, ensure how you carry yourself (verbally and nonverbally) align with those values.
Consistently deliver on those actions
Consistency is key to growth in any area, especially when developing a reputation for yourself. Guard against inconsistency, such as saying one thing and doing another, as this will cast doubt on your values and undermine the brand you’re working to establish.
It’s often said that a brand is a business’s most valuable asset and the same applies to you as an individual. Personal brands reflect personal reputations, and your reputation speaks for you either positively or negatively when you’re not in the room and has the ability to open and also close doors of opportunities on your behalf.