Be a thought leader! Position yourself as an authority! Build your audience! Take charge of your personal brand! It is no wonder that personal branding is met with such derision.
Despite its name, much of the personal branding advice speaks the language of marketing. Jumping straight into moulding and promoting your reputation, appearance and position to what you think your audience wants to hear will likely deliver you a short-term gain but potentially cause damage longer term. This emphasis on merely marketing your brand can see you inauthentic and unable to truly connect with people.
To dispel some of the confusion over brand vs marketing, let’s look at what each are.
Traditionally, branding is the essence or identity of an organisation, product or service. Done properly, brand underpins everything in your business as it is derived from your values and your purpose. It is the basis for an organisations entire reputation. A brand says, this is what I am, this is why I am here. Brand elicits connection, it is what sticks in your mind about a service, a product or an organisation, regardless of whether or not you made any purchases. It is what ultimately develops loyal customers.
If brand is the why, then marketing is the how, it is about promotion and action. Marketing is aimed at finding, attracting and communicating to buyers and motivating them to act. It is extremely important but unlike branding, marketing is short term and response focused.
The why of branding and the how of marketing also apply to your Personal Brand. It is important for branding to precede and trigger any marketing efforts. This process is widely misunderstood and the cause of much personal branding derision. Many people fall into the trap of starting with personal marketing - creating and communicating, instead of doing the work of branding - understanding and connecting.
The point of personal branding is not to create a polished, superhuman alter ego. It is not enough to articulate how you would like to be seen by others. This quite often leads to an unsustainable and inauthentic voice. Understanding your brand is about knowing who you are and telling your story in an intentional and authentic way.
What is it you value, what do you believe? What is the distinct lens through which you view the world? This is where your personal branding journey should start, and the short-term pain will deliver a longer term gain. Discovering your essence is hard work. If you know what you stand for and what drives you, you will connect with your audience in a far more effective and sustainable way. You will know what story to tell and give you a framework in which to make decisions. Using a clear sense of your own identity helps you stay true to yourself - to stay authentic.
No matter how much you focus on reputation management, everyone shows up as their true self eventually. Who you are, your true values and beliefs are revealed in every behaviour and action, and this the lived experience of your brand. Make the effort to discover who you are, so how you view yourself will be the same as how others view you. Do the work so what you say aligns with what you do.
That, is personal branding.
Danielle Jorgensen has offered Cropley subscribers 20% off her online course: The Search for Your Own Authenticity; Helping you Discover Your Personal Brand
To access the discount use this link