If Michael Jordan pops up on the screen your mind does not think of Apple Inc., Google, or anything tech related for that matter. Because of successful branding, you will most likely visualize NIKE, Air Jordan, basketball dunk, and think of the Chicago Bulls. If you are a Michael Jordan fan, your mind will immediately dig up emotions tied to some of his heroic last-second championship wins, and you will see Jordan as a leader with courage, discipline, determination, and talent. How does Branding encompass all of this? Let’s first define it.
PERSONAL BRAND IS WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE THE ROOM - Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon.com
The definition of Personal Branding is "the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands." To put it simply, “Personal Branding is the means by which people remember you” The term branding does encompass a logo, identity, and all the visual components you can think of when you try to visualize a company with successful marketing strategies (i.e. Nike swoosh, JUST DO IT). But branding also includes other areas that are not just strictly design and marketing. These areas can include emotions and any other perceptions that come to mind when a customer thinks about a company or potential employee. Today, let’s focus on these other areas like values, character traits, and leadership roles.
The first step to building a personal brand that is complete with your character traits is to consider what you want your audience, or potential employers, to think of when they come across your online identity. Here are three questions you must ask yourself as you develop your personal brand:
What type of skills, character traits, values, and leadership roles do you want to have associated with you?
For this first question, go ahead and dream big! It’s ok to desire traits that you haven’t yet developed because it will help you get direction on where you want to go. See where your heart is and then work towards it. Perhaps you really want to be known as someone who is very hard working and humble. Or maybe it’s more important in your field to be efficient and artistic. Whatever the case is, write it all down.
Are these traits true to yourself and something you can deliver?
Ok, now that you’ve dreamed big, let’s get back to reality. Now you have to look at these ideal skills, values, character traits, and leadership roles and truly ask yourself whether you can provide these to your fan base or a potential employer. It’s really important to be able to deliver on the promises you make, otherwise your entire personal brand will become nonexistent. Steve Jobs wouldn’t have been able to pull off the ‘Air Jordan’ marketing strategy, but he had something just as powerful and intriguing. He was an innovator, always pursuing excellence and diversity in his work.
Is there consistency across traits that pertain to one market area?
One of the biggest mistakes people make when building a personal brand is trying to cover different market areas. The problem is that without a specific market audience, your personal brand can’t exist. Jayson DeMers from Forbes.com explains that “The best brands have a thorough understanding of the demographics of their target market, what their interests are, and how they communicate.” As you look at what skills, values, character traits, and leadership roles you can provide, funnel them down to a specific market area. If you are already in a career and plan to stick with it, then this step should be pretty easy.