Beyoncé. George Lucas. Justin Timberlake. The list of celebrities whose names evoke distinct and memorable brands goes on. But you don’t need a star on Hollywood Boulevard to create your own brand. In fact, whether you know it or not, you already have a personal brand. So it’s a good idea to be deliberate about the brand that you are building.
What Is a Personal Brand?
Let’s back up for a second. What is a personal brand? Put very simply, someone’s personal brand is his or her reputation. Think about your work colleagues. You know who you can count on in a pinch, who’s going to leave you in the lurch on a team project and who has the best snacks in their desk for that 3 p.m. blood sugar dip. And they have a pretty good idea of what makes you unique, too.
So think of your personal brand as your M.O.—the style and characteristics that are specific to you and you alone, and give some thought to what you want to be known for.
How to Build a Personal Brand
It can be daunting to imagine yourself as a brand—you are not a Kardashian after all. But thankfully, there are lots of tips and tricks out there to help you focus on who you are and what you want to be known for. Here are some steps to get you started:
- Be honest with yourself. Your brand can be aspirational, but it shouldn’t be out of touch with who you really are. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not a rocket scientist, a three-time gold medalist or fluent in French. This is about building a brand that celebrates your strengths. Think about why you do what you do, what you do better than others, your core values and passions, things people compliment you on frequently. These can all be important parts of your brand.
- Put pen to paper. After giving some thought to who you are and what sets you apart in the crowd, write it down. You can even find workbooks, like this one, that will help you zero in on just what makes you unique. Writing something down to refer back to will help you stay focused on what brand you’re building.
- Walk the walk. Once you’ve identified your brand, it’s time to live it. People who are really committed to their personal brand regularly act and speak in ways that reinforce that brand. You’d never catch Paul McCartney, a famous vegetarian and PETA supporter, sporting a fur coat while snacking on a Big Mac. This is another reason it’s important to hone a brand you can be comfortable with. Everything from your choice of clothing to your Instagram profile can reinforce the brand you’re cultivating.
Why is Personal Branding Important?
So why is personal branding so important? Just ask Taylor Swift. When her reputation was famously damaged by a feud with Kanye West, she had to reinvent herself, crafting a more mature brand and owning up to perceived mistakes in her own way.
In fact, when you think of athletes, business leaders or even celebrities, the ones that are most memorable might not necessarily be the most talented, but they probably are individuals who have invested time and energy to creating a brand.
Developing a personal brand shouldn’t feel like creating a phony persona. Done right, though, it can help you get focused about your personal and professional development, and if you are precise about the brand you’re building, it can help you rise to the top when it comes to being a memorable player in your chosen field.
Looking for a few more tips to bring your personal brand to life in interviews and on your resume? Check out our piece: Your Personal Brand in 280 Characters or Less. If you want to share your thoughts on memorable leader brands or your very own brand, please comment below.