Contrary to what other people may be saying, YOU are your most valuable asset. Now it’s time to learn how to build a personal brand worth promoting.
Corporate Success = Personal Success?
Come to think of it. There’s hardly any major company that’s not associated with a memorable founder or its current leader. Examples:
- Steve Jobs and Apple
- Bill Gates and Microsoft
- Elon Musk and Tesla
- Henry Ford and Ford Motor Co.
The list could go on and on. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to tell where the company brand ends and the personal brand starts. They are so intertwined, especially in the minds of customers and the general public, that, for example, many Apple fans would not hesitate to buy a pair of New Balance sneakers just cos’ Steve wore them.
So, why does it happen and what comes first – the company brand or a personal brand? Let’s take a closer look.
What Comes First – the Company or the Person?
The answer is quite obvious – everything starts with the person. This is what puts the most successful companies apart from the rest – they all have a strong personal «brand» inside of them, usually embodied by the founder, CEO, or the owner.
You can’t fake it if you don’t have it in you. There can’t be a second Steve Jobs or Henry Ford but that doesn’t mean there can’t be people who are highly successful, innovative, and influential in the approach. They’ve always been and always will – that’s what we, people, are.
Personal Brand: Accident or Hard Work?
How had all these people become what we call «personal brands»? Were they like that all the time since their birth or was it a conscious effort they’d been making throughout their lives?
It’s a combination of both – you’ve got to have a natural talent mixed up with a serious attitude towards hard work.
Don’t let that bring you down though – if you’re already 25 and haven’t achieved anything really significant in this life, it doesn’t mean you should give up trying. For instance, Henry Ford founded his company (Ford Motor Co.) in 1903, at the age of 40! It’s never too late to try, you know.
However, personal brands don’t always come with companies. You may have noticed that there is a certain kind of a personal brand that’s always «in your face» – yep, I’m talking about a celebrity brand.
You’ve got to give these people credit for becoming famous in the first place. No matter how much you may despise Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift or Bono (is that even possible?;))), you can’t deny the fact these people are very well-known across the world and the Internet.
This is something most public persons face at some point in their career once they’ve become famous and notable in their area (whether it’s music, sports, or acting) – can I turn my popularity into a source of income for myself? The answer is usually «Yes».
There’s an article about that called «What is a Brand Ambassador?» on my blog – check it out to learn more about how high-profile sportsmen and musicians become brand ambassadors and how brand owners benefit from that.
The Importance of Personal Branding
In the modern world where anyone can make a fortune using just a laptop and his/her brains, the importance of the personal brand is at all times high.
Of course, we are talking about a personal brand in such areas as coaching, consulting, and blogging. Success in these areas is impossible without building a strong personal brand.
Name a few popular business coaches or motivational speakers off the top of your head – names like Brian Tracy, Stephen Covey, and Nick Vujicic may come to mind first.
Person = brand.
These people represent themselves, speak about their own ideas, and present their own vision of the world to the people. Likewise, when people talk about their works or performances, they immediately associate them with the authors.
The same thing with the Internet blogging and consulting – top bloggers have their personal brand behind them.
Anatomy of a Personal Brand
All successful personal brand stories have something in common – something that makes a personal what it is. Here’s what you need to know about personal brands.
Personal brands aren’t built on sand
These people who have millions of subscribers and followers haven’t always been like that. There was a time when they were just finding themselves and establishing their brand through hard work and trial-and-error approach.
In fact, one of the most peculiar things in the world for me is to watch/read about the humble beginnings of the famous people and observe how far they had evolved during their career. This shows that nothing is set in stone and should always go forward and not be afraid of experimenting.
Personal brands take time and effort to build (sometimes A LOT)
Everyone likes to concentrate on the success and not on the hard work. That’s why, when speaking about a famous person that was able to build his/her personal brand, people would assume that it happened overnight.
It goes like this: «he went to bed poor and broke, and then the next morning he woke up rich and famous».
Well, it doesn’t work like this. Building a brand may take years and you should be ready for it. As Thomas Edison put it, «Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine perspiration.»
Any personal brand boils down to simple, relatable ideas and qualities
People relate to people who are people. After all, we all seek the same qualities in our peers – I still haven’t found a person that would’ve been glad to follow someone who’s antisocial, rude, stupid, and dirty.
If you break down any successful personal brand, you’ll see that it’s based on common ideas that most people can relate to.
Personal brands should evolve with time while remaining intact at the core
Personal brands should grow and change with time like you do. However, in doing so they shouldn’t abandon the idea that lies deep down in the foundation of that brand as it would alienate the followers and present the brand in a rather negative way.
If you run a consulting agency known for its professionalism and etiquette, don’t start greeting your client with «Hey, what’s up fellas!» one day. THAT may shock them.
Personal brands are very easy to damage even with the slightest misstep (or mishap)
Having established your own personal brand, you’ll see how fragile it is. One little mistake can send you south of everything that’s good and righteous.
Therefore, you should monitor carefully every step that you make along the way and analyze what the potential negative outcome may be.
Personal brand is a better version of yourself
Yourself, no someone else. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Even if your acting skills are over 9,000, it will still show.
You’ve got to practice what you preach and appear natural and genuine – otherwise, people won’t believe you.
How to Build a Personal Brand – Recommendations
There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re just starting to build a personal brand. Here they are.
1. Find what you’re best at
You can’t be good at everything. Some people are naturally born musicians, some are linguists, others are actors or speakers.
Every person has something that he/she does better than the others even if that’s picking our nose. You just to sit down and think what’s your strongest feat. Ideally, you should conduct a poll among your friends, relatives, colleagues, and mates in order to find out their (hopefully) unbiased opinion.
2. Write down your strengths and weaknesses (as they are)
Take a sheet of paper and do it. Be candid with yourself – if you feel like there are more strengths than weaknesses, ask your friends/relatives for assistance again.
3. Figure out how you can exploit your strengths and hide your weaknesses
You need to pick a format that would allow you to show off your best qualities. For example, if you’re physically strong and attractive, running a video blog would a nice idea. If you’re a good public speaker, stand on the corner and start giving a speech about whatever – just to see how well you can engage people.
4. Find an example to rip off get inspired by
Hey, even the greatest artists steal – who are we, common folk, to disagree? It’s OK to lift some ideas from the people you admire and view as an example.
5. Experiment until you find the right thing
This thing alone can drive you to the success. Never stop trying new things even if you’re a success – remember, it won’t last long unless you keep evolving.
6. Add a bit of personality and style
Do what you do the way YOU do it. Add something that will make you stand out from the crowd – even if it’s absurd and laughable. People love those kinds of things.
We talked about personal brands – their history, anatomy, and some tips on how to build a brand for yourself. I hope you will find this information useful in your future endeavors.
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If you have further questions on the subject, please write them in comments – I’ll be glad to answer.
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