Personal Branding

Branding is a term associated with products and services, but when we talk about personal branding, you need to understand it is all about You. And by all I mean every single detail that is associated with you. From your business attire, the look of your office to a small detail like your business card.

If you think about branding yourself, you need to start thinking strategically about your image by creating it and managing to achieve success. And by success I mean to achieve goals you set for yourself.

Building personal brand is a process, which starts with the evaluation of your current image and the way you are perceived by other people. You need to remember that you can control the way you dress, behave, communicate, but you cannot control the way people perceive it, because each person add a different meaning to your image. It is simply the matter of interpretation. That interpretation is based on a person’s experience, beliefs and values. Your image cannot be good or bad, it simply can be helpful or distracting tool to achieve your goals.

Brand and Image are sometimes used interchangeably, but I like to differentiate those two, as they relate to two different areas. Image is more visual representation of a person, while the brand has broadened meaning and is related to values and exists in the heart and the mind of your audience.

To be successful you need to be in control of your total image and every single element of it. This cannot be created against your own nature, against your values. This has to come from within and needs to be constructed on fundaments that are immanent part of you.  You can work on certain elements by focusing on developing your strengths and controlling your weaknesses and unsupportive behaviors to increase professional effectiveness and better your social life.

When planning your brand identity, you need to ask yourself; ‘what I want to tell my audience about myself, how I want to be perceived. What is my message?

Whether you are meeting business partners, new clients or going for a job interview, you need to answer those questions. The deal will be closed, new clients acquired and you get your new job if your image perceives the positive values those people are looking for. As I said, it cannot be good or bad, it simply matches your audience expectations of a perfect business partner or executive or not. So you need to realize your image and the way you are perceived is a matter of establishing trust in business relationships.

People do business with people they know, like and trust. And sometimes you have very little time to convince someone. Visual impressions are important and are part of the process of communication. You need more time to present yourself and show your value, so you need to buy yourself time.

Dave van Hose from Speaking Empire, with whom I organized a couple of events in Europe, says; ‘Show up like no other’. This is exactly the point. The first impression has to be remarkable and memorable. Be positive, confident, decisive, honest and pleasant. Gain people’s heart before you talk to their mind. If they experience you positively on an emotional level, they will be more open on intellectual level. And if you control your identity, you can control your career and your personal life.

Offline vs. Online Personal Branding

Offline vs. Online Personal Branding

If you wonder whether you have or not your personal brand, I can assure you have one. And if you wonder what it is, well… this is simply “what people are saying about you when you are not in the room”.

It is your reputation and how you are perceived by others. Whether you are aware of it or not, you have a brand, you may only not be in control of it, but your appearance and behavior are constantly evaluated by people around you.

So the question is: are you managing your reputation? Do you do it proactively? Or you let other people to decide for you?

The way you dress, present yourself on the phone, what you say on your resume when applying for a job, but also how you present yourself online – via social media or personal blog – it all creates an image of you.
You need to ensure that the information about you in online world is aligned with your brand and your offline image.

Your personal brand starts offline and later can be mirrored online. If you create a great image online that is in no way close to real life, you probably won’t be able to maintain your brand. Because brand is about the values and trust. You need to be honest with yourself and present yourself in an authentic way. It is crucial to build your brand from inside out in a way it represents the best of you in a way it is relevant and meaningful to your target audience.

You should think about your branding statement, a value you want to deliver to people around you – whether on personal or professional level.
Decide who you are and what you want, what you are good and passionate about and most importantly how can you help others.

Every interaction is a branding opportunity, so you want to make the most of it. If you have a message, find a way to communicate it. To do it, you need to consider the offline world – your appearance, behavior, communication style as well as online channels. Look at your blog, Facebook, Twitter and see what your post are saying about you, what is communicated by the photos you add. What image emerges from all those channels together? Is it a consistent image, does that image support your personal and professional goals?