How to Define Your (Authentic) Personal Brand
A brand is more than a logo. It is the emotions, thoughts, impressions and facts that come to mind when we think of an organization. Large corporations spend a lot of time and money protecting and elevating their brands. They know having brand recognition and respect are important elements of their business strategy.
But how often do we as individuals think about our personal brand? Not nearly as much as we should.
Having worked in public relations for over 20 years, I’ve spent a lot of time caring for and enhancing corporate, government and non-profit brands. I’ve crafted brand voices (how people within the organization should speak when representing the brand), and written brand identity summaries. I’ve also implemented these pieces in social media and community engagement strategies.
As I transitioned from working as employee to a consultant, I began paying attention to my personal brand. After all, as a one woman show, how people perceive me defines not only the consulting jobs I receive, but also the enjoyment I gain from my work.
The foundation of a personal brand is being clear on your core values. Crystal clear. There is no room for grey areas here.
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- What are you passionate about – personally and professionally?
- What qualities do you value in yourself? And in others?
- What qualities do you despise?
- How do you want to be treated? And how do want to you treat others?
- What motivates you? What demotivates you?
Think of your core values as your spidey sense. For me, it’s that initial feeling I get when I talk to a potential new client. Having spent time writing out and getting clear on my core values, I now trust my intuition when something doesn’t quite feel right.
We all have work that inspires and motivates us to be our best. This is the work that comes so easily it never seems like work. Or projects where the time flies by as you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing.
For me, speaking and corporate training are my passion projects. I love helping people unlock the answers within themselves and have some aha moments that will positively impact their work and lives.
To develop your personal brand, you need to hone in on your passion projects. This not only helps you attract more of the work you enjoy, but also helps you stand out from the crowd. Being a jack of all trades isn’t going to get you noticed.
Wouldn’t you rather spend your career working on your passion projects versus someone else’s?
This can take time to define and is often done through trial and error. It’s important to not only critique the client relationship when it concludes, but also when you’re in the thick of things.
- What do you like about working with this person? What drives you crazy?
- What qualities of client inspire you to do your best?
- When you picture your ideal client, do any of your past or present clients come to mind? Drill down on what it is you like about them – personally and professionally.
- Does this client represent a certain industry? Sector? Mindset? Personality?
As I spend more time focusing on my ideal client, and less time worrying about my less than ideal client, guess what happens? More and more of my ideal clients show up!
If you’ve spent a lot of time working in corporations and governments, this can be a tough area to uncover. When I transitioned to consulting, this was my biggest hurdle. I was only able to overcome it with the help of a business coach.
For years, I had written using someone else’s voice (corporate versus human talk). I had also learned to tone down my personality to fit in to a male dominated senior management team and conservative work environments.
Only through working with my business coach was I able to tap into who I was and give myself permission for my personal style to come through. And oh, how it’s come through!
I use a lot of humour, real life examples and practice advice in my speaking, training and writing. Instead of suppressing my wisdom and experience (as I was sometimes forced to do as an employee), I now realize it’s the magic I bring to the table.
Give yourself permission to be you!!! You have so many gifts to share.
Personal brand recipe
The final ingredient in the personal brand recipe is – authenticity. ALWAYS be the authentic you. Don’t try to change or mold your personal brand to fit others. The world needs you – not a version of you.
Whether you’re a consultant, an employee, business owner or something in-between, I encourage you to think about your personal brand. Don’t let others define your personal brand for you.
I promise, this is a key component in creating a career that brings fulfillment, joy and work that makes you proud.
I encourage you to think about what time and resources you need to spend to protect and elevate your personal brand. How will this become a priority in your life?