Five Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

A brand is anything—a symbol, design, name, sound, reputation, emotion, employees, tone, and much more—that separates one thing from another. McDonald’s golden arches, Nike’s tick mark, Apple’s bitten apple are all outstanding symbols of great branding: immediately recognizable, associated with their products, the lifestyle they symbolise, and, of course, their success. Developing a personal brand is similar to product branding. The overall goal with branding is to differentiate yourself (the product) in the market so you can attain your objectives. The process includes defining your brand and brand attributes, positioning your brand in a different way than your competitors and then managing all aspects of your personal brand. Once people know who you are and begin to identify you with a specific area of understanding or expertise, you'll be well on your way to becoming the go-to person in your niche or industry. The question is: how do you become more recognized? How do you build your authority and your following? Here are five mantras to follow:

Know Yourself

Your brand should be a reflection of who you are. Do you know what you believe? What you stand for? What your strengths and weaknesses are? Building a personal brand is first and foremost developing an understanding of your true self, and then sharing that with the world. Only you can determine how you want your life to unfold. You can’t control every aspect of your life, but you can create a long-term vision and develop steps to achieve that vision. In order to do that, you must understand yourself thoroughly. Know your passion, your traits, what drives you… Seek input from family and close friends to ensure you’re aware of your blind spots.

Show Yourself

What’s the point in your brand if nobody sees you or knows of you? So it’s important to show yourself. Network, join groups, show up at their meetings and make yourself visible. If you can get media coverage, nothing like it!! Get interviewed, get written about, get quoted, and create your website, your blog spot. Make sure your social and professional media pages fully fleshed out with all of your information. They should present you in the best light possible. Interact with others. Share their content. Use a photograph of yourself that brings out your personality.

Express Yourself

Take a clear stand on matters, have consistent opinions, and write about them. Thought provoking articles establish your credibility. Contribute to websites that accept high quality guest posts. If you can, try and get a regular column in an established periodical.

Manage Yourself

Do you know how you're appearing and coming across online? This is something you're going to want to monitor on an ongoing basis, and improve upon whenever and wherever possible. Proactively manage all aspects of your brand, ensuring these aspects are in sync and that they continue to reinforce your brand attributes and market niche. For example, your LinkedIn picture should look similar to the in-person you, your Tweets and any social media posts should stay within your market niche and your in-person behaviour should be representative of how you want others to perceive you. And if you’ve branded yourself in social media as a creative fashion diva, then make sure that extends to how you come across in person (attire, hair, makeup, etc.).

Don’t create a mismatched brand by conveying different or competing attributes in various social media outlets Don't forget to Google yourself regularly to see how you're coming across, how others might be seeing you, and what they're saying about you. You'll have a tough time building a great personal brand without making a real effort to monitor and tweak it.

Update Yourself

Remain a student of your industry on a permanent basis. No matter how well you know your industry or area of expertise, it would be wise to remember that things are changing at a faster rate than ever before, and you have to stay up-to-date with the latest changes and trends. It takes time to build your personal brand. If you fail to stay relevant, all of your effort will be wasted. If you don't want to be discredited, then you'll want to keep a steady supply of articles, trade journals, blogs, and books on hand.

It also pays to learn new things, develop new skills, and to expand your knowledge.

And finally…

Remember, it’s about you. You are unique. There can be no second you. Find out why you are different – and embrace and celebrate that difference!!