Developing Your Personal Brand – Yes, You Have One!

As someone who grew up in a family-owned business and then worked in the field of PR/corporate communications for a number of years I’ve long been well aware of how my actions, or inaction, impact not only my reputation, but the reputation of the organizations I serve. From the day long ago when my father chastised me for not returning a greeting from a classmate we ran into at a local department store to early training as a PR/media relations rep I’ve known that what I did — on or off the job — made an impression. While that knowledge, especially as a child, was sometimes burdensome, in hindsight it has served me well.

Some other early lessons:

  • Treat everyone well, from the lowest to the highest positions in the organization – you never know when you’ll encounter one of them on your way up or down the “ladder of success.”
  • It’s a small world. Be wary of speaking ill of others in any group – you never know who knows, or may be related to, the person you’re disparaging.
  • People are watching you even when you don’t realize you’re being observed. It’s often what you do when you think you’re not being observed that speaks the loudest about you.

Some people, of course, are entirely unconcerned about how others perceive them. For those who care, though, building a strong personal brand–just like building a strong professional brand, requires:

  • Clarity around what you wish your brand to be
  • Understanding of how you are currently perceived by your target audiences
  • A plan to “close the gaps” where you may not be perceived as you wish to be

Consistency is key. For individuals, as for service brands, this can be challenging because we’re not talking about “products” where consistency in experience is far more manageable. For individuals, brands are built upon a myriad of impressions and interactions that may include anything from how you dress, to the car you drive, to how responsive you are and, of course, your performance.

How do you know when you’ve built a strong personal brand? When people make comments to you like: “That outfit (or car, or painting, or song…) just screamed you!”

If your personal brand isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, can you turn it around? You can. As with organizational or product brands, the process of “rebranding” takes time and effort, but it can be done. The steps are the same as those described above, starting with a solid understanding of how you wish to be perceived.

Recommended Reading:

Personal Branding For Dummies

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