We’re very quite used to the term “branding” already. Used extensively in the context of corporate brand or product brand, but personal brand? So what exactly is personal branding anyway, and why should we bother? Believe it or not, personal branding is just as important, if not more important than the run-of-the-mill corporate or product brand.
A brand is a “promise”, some branding textbooks say, but what exactly is that “promise” all about? Personally, if you ask me, a brand is an identity. An identity that describes the reputation of the corporation, the product it represents, or in this case, the individual person. This reputation is developed and set over the course of time. So when the general public can accurately predict or describe the corporation, product, or the person based on the reputation, then we say that the brand is well established… Regardless whether the reputation is good or bad.
As this reputation is developed over time, the more often it is repeated, the more accurately one can predict the outcome of future encounters. And when this happens, we can say that the brand has been matured.
So when you can accurately “predict” what the outcome might be when encountering the brand in a future encounter, it becomes the “promise” that the branding textbooks are referring to.
Organically Developed Brand Vs. Branding Exercise
If we allow a reputation to develop itself over time without any human intervention, it’s called an organically developed brand. The problem with organically developed brands is that we won’t know how it’ll develop over time. Another problem is that it’ll take a long time to set. So it’s essentially letting your ship drift uncontrolled in the open ocean. Your ship is reacting to the elements, from the condition of the waters to the weather that you’ll encounter. At the end of your voyage, that’s what your brand will be perceived in the eyes of the public.
Most business don’t have the luxury of time to allow their brand to develop organically. This situation is further complicated when they don’t know how their brand might turn out at the end of the uncontrolled voyage.
So businesses take matters in their own hands, actively steering the direction of where their brand is heading towards. This active intervention is known as branding exercise. Anything from advertising campaign and road shows to published scientific studies and product warranties.
Which begs the question – what’s personal branding, and what’s the difference with corporate or product branding?
So What’s Personal Branding Anyway?
Just like for corporate and product branding, it’s all about the personal “promise”, the personal reputation that others perceive when meeting you for the first time. This is where the phrase “Your reputation precedes you” comes from.
Again, just like for corporate and product branding, you can either leave your personal branding ship to drift freely on the open ocean for organic brand development, or you can choose to actively steer where your ship is sailing to.
So how do people perceive you? What does your personal brand tell others about who you are, and what you stand for? Are you warm and friendly, or are you cold and emotionless? Are you efficient and productive, or are you always undecided and forgetful? Do you dress sharp and take pride in your personal hygiene, or are you a sloppy dresser without a proper sense of personal grooming?
These tangible traits that are clearly visible to the people around you tell a lot about who you are, and what you stand for. How others perceive you will inevitably affect how they will treat you. Will they trust you?… Will they like you?… Well, it all depends on what message you are conveying to them.
Developing a Reputable Personal Brand
Remember the old phrase “Never judge a book by its cover“?… Well, when it comes to personal brand, you can throw that phrase out the window. Most people will form a first impression of you within 90 seconds of first meeting you. How you dress, how you walk, and how you carry out a conversation, reveals a lot about your character.
And it’s not surprising that people who live in the limelight, like politicians and celebrities, actually hire personal coaches to help mould their outlook to make them more likeable. The more likeable you are, the more trustworthy you’ll appear to be.
As for the rest of us mortal beings, being likeable is also important, especially if you’re attending a job interview, or if you’re in the sales profession. The more likeable you are, the more people are willing to work with you.
So How Do You Develop a Positive Personal Brand?
Next week, I’m going to share with you how to develop a positive personal brand in the corporate environment. Everything you need to know from how to dress to what function, and how to carry yourself confidently in public.