Who are you? Can you describe yourself in one paragraph? How about 140 characters? We promote ourselves all the time whether we know it or not. Branding yourself means identifying your strengths and marketing your attributes for personal or business reasons.
Your brand distills your capabilities and personality down to an easy to read format. If that sounds impersonal, maybe so, but sometimes you have to step outside of yourself to find out who you really are. If you are an entrepreneur, you know that you are part of the package when you market your company to investors, partners, or potential clients. University graduates or people seeking a move up the corporate ladder or a career change have to sell their fine points to employers. Even when you look for love online, you need to make sure that your brand is attractive to the opposite sex. It may sound commercial, but it’s a competitive world and you need to stand out. How can you turn your attributes into a brand that everyone will want to know?
We all know these names – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. Most of us use their products and services every day. Why do we care who invented these things? Because Apple, Microsoft and Facebook want us to know and because these are fascinating men who embody their respective brands, even after they have passed on. Can you name the CEOs of half a dozen other companies? Maybe, but there are plenty of faceless corporations behind famous products and you only hear about these people if there is a scandal and they make the news.
Similarly, Oprah is one of the most successful brands of all time. Anyone who is known by one name understands personal branding . The same goes for Madonna. You don’t need to be famous to have a brand. Oprah and Madonna are unique people who have worked diligently to promote their talents. They aren’t perfect, no one is, but they’ve found their niche and built their reputations on what they do best.
Some business owners should be the public face of their brand. If you are charismatic and people love to hang on every word you say – go for it. Shy types who would rather be behind the scenes don’t have to show their face in public. That said, you should always embody the principles of your company.
People can relate to stories of struggle and triumph, or wackiness. If you are a business owner and you have an interesting story to tell about how you got to where you are today, you should be the face of your brand. Maybe you found a river rock on the shore that inspired you to start a company that builds walls out of natural rock. If you just decided to start a wall building company because you heard that there was good money in it, sharing your story won’t add any interest to your brand. It’s important to know when and what to share.
Make sure that you truly embody the values and style of your brand if you are going to represent them. Is your personal brand consistent with your company identity? If you sell clothes to hipsters but dress like a Wall Street banker, people aren’t going to trust you and they won’t buy your clothes. If you wear ripped up jeans and vintage t-shirts to work, they’ll believe you are one of them. If you don’t fit the brand personally, let someone else be the public face of your brand, instead. Or, you could take baby steps – come on – loosen that tie, it won’t hurt a bit.
I Deserve This Job Over the Other 150 Applicants
This is all about you. You are the only one who can market yourself to a prospective employer. When you make a profile on LinkedIn or send out your resume, you are marketing yourself. It has to be stellar. While a resume shouldn’t sound like an infomercial, you have to highlight your core competencies. Don’t forget to add keywords to your resume, just as you would use keywords on a blog or website.
When you go for an interview, it’s even more important that you know who you are and how to market your talents. That interview is your sales pitch, so you have to know yourself the same way you would a product you are selling. Why would someone want you? Why are you better than the competition? What is your value to the employer?
If you were selling a product, you would want it to look appealing, so make sure you dress for the occasion. As someone who used to be in management, I can tell you that people who arrived late for interviews or dressed like they were going to the store to grab a six pack of beer were usually crossed off the list. Usually. If there was something amazing about the person — something so unique and wonderful that those other things didn’t matter, then I would take that into consideration. Are you that person?
I Want You to Want Me
Even when you are looking for a romantic partner, you are marketing yourself. Your online dating profile is your marketing material. As someone who has perused a few dating sites looking for Mr. Right, I can tell you this – Mr. or Ms. Right has to know how to write, or at the very least, use Spell Check. You have to have a compelling title to get people to click on your profile. When you are choosing a username, don’t be too cutesy or offensive.
Clichés don’t work on dating sites. “I love walks on the beach at sunset.” sounds romantic, but it isn’t anything out of the ordinary. How many times have you read this — “I love to laugh.” Who doesn’t? Be honest but not too candid. For instance, don’t say, “I love to laugh, but when I do, something happens that shouldn’t happen.” Your future partner can learn that on their own!
What makes you a catch? Many people lie on dating sites or post outdated photographs. That’s not a good way to brand yourself. What category does your brand fit into? You could be an adventurer, a bookworm, an athlete, or an art lover. Whatever category you fit into, you have to find something unique to say about yourself. We’re talking more about qualities, not activities. Maybe every year you take a trip somewhere few people venture, such as going to Antarctica to see the penguins. That’s interesting, but that’s not a brand. It’s something your brand does.
If you are having difficulty, work on it like you were coming up with a logline for a movie – “Brad Pitt meets Einstein with the sense of humor of C.K. Louis,” but don’t write that. If that is the first thing that comes to mind, break it down – do you really look like Brad Pitt or do you look more like Einstein? Einstein was an attractive man in his own right, but if you look more like him, describe yourself appropriately: “Curious and witty social activist and amateur inventor with a bad haircut wants to meet a woman who loves children.”
Maybe he was a genius, but Einstein didn’t have online dating to promote his wonderful qualities. He married his first cousin, so it’s a good thing you’re looking outside of your gene pool.
Always be true to yourself in your personal branding. Who are you? Are you a workaholic? A social activist who cares deeply about society and the planet? A people person? Are you easy going or quick tempered? If you aren’t sure, ask those closest to you to describe what they like best about your personality.
Whenever you are doing something that engages other people and you need to get them on your side, you have to market yourself. You can do this through a website, a blog, or social media. Being active on all of the social media sites is especially important. Connecting with other people is what social media is all about and if you know anything about business, you know that you have to network to build your brand.