You’ve probably come across the buzzword ‘personal brand’ at some point. While it might conjure images of flashy social media profiles, it’s much deeper than that. Your personal brand is essentially the essence of who you are, and it influences everything you do, whether you realize it or not. So, let’s dive into what a personal brand is, why it matters for leaders, and how you can craft your own unique brand.
What is a Personal Brand?
Your personal brand isn’t a catchy one-liner for your social media bio, and it’s not just a rehearsed elevator pitch that changes with your audience. Think of it more like the reputation you build over time – it’s a sum of your actions, behaviors, personality, values, expertise, and more. The point? Every leader has one, whether they’re aware of it or not.
Why Your Brand Matters
For leaders, a strong personal brand is vital. It can make or break your ability to inspire trust, confidence, and respect in your team, partners, and employer. A strong brand sets you apart as someone with credibility, reliability, and respectability.
Within your organization – A strong brand means you have the trust and respect of people in your organization, and that opens doors to career opportunities like speaking engagements, project management, and mentorship.
If you applied for a promotion, what would the hiring managers say about who you are and what you stand for?
Beyond your company – Your brand is why companies headhunt you. It’s how you land that dream job.
Who knows you outside of the company you work for, and do they know your capabilities?
Over a career – Your brand is your legacy. It’s the impact you leave behind, how people remember you, and the footprint you create.
What size of footprint would you like to leave?
Over your lifetime -Your brand doesn’t stop when you retire. It continues to bring opportunities your way, long after you’ve hung up your career hat. People seek you out when they know what you bring to the table.
What will you bring forward to the next phase of your life?
A strong brand opened doors for me in ways I never imagined, such as giving me opportunities for career growth, coaching and mentoring roles, and involvement in exciting projects. And what’s truly remarkable is that this brand doesn’t fade when your career ends. After retiring, I found myself transitioning into various contract positions, sought out based on my established reputation. It’s a reminder for all of us – you are your great asset!
So, I ask you, do you have a clear understanding of your personal brand, and does it genuinely reflect how you want to be perceived by your colleagues, superiors, company, and the broader world?
How do You Build a Brand?
First, a few notes before we dig into brand building.
Building your brand isn’t about putting on a facade to please others. It also does not mean that you succeed at everything you do. It’s about who you are, how you consistently show up and how you respond to situations. It reflects your values, personality, competencies, and achievements.
Building a Brand
Define your values
Start by pinpointing the values most important to you as a leader. Values should guide your decisions, behaviors, and interactions with others. Examples are integrity, accountability, authenticity, collaboration, resourcefulness, courage, and empathy.
Then, describe the actions that support these values. For example, if you value integrity, you want to be transparent and honest in all your communication, and keep promises and commitments to your team. Valuing honesty may mean telling the truth even if it is difficult or makes you look bad.
Identify your strengths
Next, identify your strengths and areas of expertise. Determine the skills and qualities you bring to the table that make you stand out as a leader. What sets you apart? What are you passionate about?
Your skills may be technical or leadership qualities such as courage, self-awareness, empathy, decisiveness, etc., or personal strengths such as creativity, adaptability, or resilience.
Craft your brand message
Based on your values, strengths, and goals, create a clear, authentic brand message. Your message should be consistent across all channels, such as social media, email, and in-person interactions.
Write it out and be specific. Don’t just say, “I’m a confident leader.”
For example, if you see yourself as a collaborative leader, your brand message would include your ability to work effectively with others and build strong relationships with colleagues. It may outline how you are skilled at bringing people together to achieve common goals and are a team player who values cooperation and collaboration.
Once you have a brand statement, keep it visible. Record it in your leadership journal, post it, Pin it, video it, or tape it to a wall at work.
Tailor your communication style to align with your brand. Think carefully about how you communicate with everyone in your company, including by email, or any other correspondence. Listen actively, respond to feedback, and remember that your brand statement is your guide.
Be visible and present
Building your brand requires visibility. Network within your company, attend meetings, engage in discussions, and actively participate in activities that support your brand image.
You want to be known by your employees, leaders, partners, and people outside your company. If you are a quiet leader and are uncomfortable putting yourself out there, this article provides some guidance.
Develop your online presence
In today’s digital age, an online presence can boost your brand. Ensure your social media profiles and websites reflect your message and expertise. Use social media to share insights and build your network.
Get input from colleagues, peers, and mentors to align your self-perception with how others see you. Use their feedback to refine your brand message.
Your actions and behaviors should consistently align with your brand message. Be reliable, trustworthy, and authentic in all interactions.
Your Branding Journey
To get started on your brand building journey, download the personal brand power assessment to gauge the current state of your personal brand, identify areas for improvement, and create an action plan to strengthen and refine your brand over time.
And make sure to hit the Subscribe button to stay informed about future articles and courses to help you build your brand!
Encourage Employees to Grow their Brand
As a leader, you not only aim to advance your own growth but also to foster leadership in others. What better way to encourage personal growth and development for employees than by championing their personal brands and encouraging them to cultivate and showcase their unique talents?
Here’s how you can support your employees:
- Provide opportunities. Inspire your employees to step up by offering opportunities for growth. Encourage them to give presentations, volunteer for exciting projects, spearhead fundraisers or company events, or even share their expertise through articles in their field. Additionally, offer mentorship, training, and projects for skill enhancement.
- Support online presence. Encourage your team to establish an online presence by sharing valuable content on platforms such as LinkedIn, and engage with their followers, or even create their own professional website. Equip them with social media training to navigate the digital landscape effectively.
- Promote networking. Encourage your employees to attend industry events, connect with other professionals, and actively seek out collaborations with thought leaders. By encouraging networking, you enable your team to gain respect and recognition within their professional communities.
- Recognize employee achievements. Celebrate your employees’ brand-building milestones. Recognition serves as a powerful motivator, inspiring them to continue their journey of self-improvement.
Always remember that your personal brand is your most valuable asset, and it sticks with you like a faithful shadow. Are you content with what’s trailing behind you? Take charge of your brand, and watch the opportunities unfold. Your brand is the magic that sets you apart in your career journey.
Have I defined my personal brand, and does it accurately represent my values, strengths, and aspirations as a leader?
How has my brand influenced the opportunities I’ve encountered, whether it’s career advancement, project involvement, or mentorship roles?
How might establishing my personal brand shape my professional path?
Have I actively encouraged my team to develop their personal brands? What strategies have I employed to support their growth?
Share your personal branding tips and advice in the comments!