Personal Brand

by Dawn Bentley

In a nutshell

1. What is personal branding?

Personal branding is all about you and how you operate. It’s about who you are, your values, your beliefs, your skills, your experience and your behaviours. It’s what you leave behind when you walk out of a room, what people say about you when you are not there.

  • The key to your brand is authenticity.
  • It’s about constantly demonstrating your strengths and values in everything you do.
  • Developing your brand is about getting to know who you really are and how you operate; as well as who you are becoming.


2. Why do it?

Whether you are being interviewed for a new job, presenting a project plan, seeking your manager’s backing for your idea or asking for a pay rise, what you want is for other people to trust you, the person behind it all. If you inspire confidence, you are likely to get the result you want as, at the end of the day, people buy people. Having a very clear personal brand will allow you to

  • Positively manage your impact
  • Clearly articulate who you are and what you are about
  • Connect your abilities to the reputation you have/want
  • Identify areas in which you may need to develop
  • Identify areas in which you may need manage yourself more effectively
  • Differentiate yourself from others, sending out a clear message about you that makes you worth contacting.


3. Developing a personal brand

Developing your brand is a continuous cycle in which you

  • Decide who you are now, understanding your skills and values and knowing what others think of you
  • Identify who you are becoming and the future you want
  • Prioritise the areas that need further work
  • Develop a marketing campaign.


4. What are you good at?

Self knowledge is crucial to developing your brand successfully. Ask yourself

  • What are my strengths and talents and when am I at my best?
  • How do I work with others, get results, put order into my life and learn and develop?
  • What does this information say about me?


5. What do you want your reputation to be?

What is it you want people to be saying about you when you are not around?

  • What are you proud of and what’s your current reputation?
  • What do you want to be famous for?
  • How do you want to be remembered?


6. What do others think of you?

Your next step in defining and clarifying your personal brand is to identify some colleagues or customers who will be honest with you, so that you can collect some feedback from them.

  • Ask them the same questions you have asked yourself.
  • Ask follow-up questions so you get some examples that illustrate what they are saying.
  • Compare your reputation through others’ eyes with what you want to achieve.


7. Define your values

Values are deep within us and make up how we live. If you are not aware of yours, they simply need to be uncovered.

  • Your values govern your behaviour and provide both the motivation behind your actions and the evaluation criteria by which you assess them.
  • Connecting with your values and honouring them allows you to sparkle and be true to what you believe in.
  • To be completely congruent, everything your brand stands for needs to be aligned with your values.
  • If people do not sense that what you say is the same as how you act, then they will not be inclined to trust you.


8. Develop your vision

Developing your vision is about defining your future, so you should feel that your vision is attractive, credible and compelling. Your personal vision has to reframe what currently exists, allowing you to focus on your dream; it should not be tied to the past.

  • A vision is time bound and once it is achieved, you will create another.
  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • If you could do anything you wanted, what would you really like to do with your life?
  • When are you truly happy and energised?


9. Develop your mission statement

Your mission statement should act as a core principle, guiding you both as to how you live your life on a day-to-day basis and at times when you face major decisions. It establishes the direction in line with which you can then set long- and short-term goals.

  • It should express what really matters to you, excites you and will help you to fulfil your potential.
  • It should be contained within just one or two sentences.
  • You should review it regularly.


10 Develop your tag line

Most big brands have a tag or strap line that summarises the essence of their brand. The really good ones show a clear alignment from product through to values and visions.

  • What’s your master message?
  • What sums you up?


11. Building your brand reputation

Creating, maintaining and evolving your brand will help you take control of how you are perceived and enable you to communicate your message in a positive way to your audience(s). The simplest way to promote your brand is to be ‘out there’. Get yourself noticed. In work, that may involve speaking up in meetings, taking on extra responsibility, volunteering for projects and making presentations.

  • Be aware of the importance of ‘touch points’ – including both written and verbal communication as well as gossip and hearsay concerning you.
  • Develop a set of success criteria by which you can judge how well you have handled specific touch points.
  • Radiate a confidence that is rooted in knowing what you are good at, identifying and managing your limitations and delivering what you stand for.
  • Identify and manage your stakeholders and raise your profile by networking.


12. Should everyone have a personal brand?

Whether we like it or not, each of us has a brand. The question is whether yours is what you want it to be.

  • Each encounter leaves an impression. One encounter may not shape an opinion; however, the cumulative effect of two or three certainly will.
  • Make that initial meeting work for you and create the impact you want by consciously managing people’s perceptions of you.
  • Developing clarity around your personal brand, however, is not a task that should be taken lightly: it requires you to have the ability to look at yourself openly and honestly.


13. Factors contributing to your brand

Your personal brand is everything that you are, whether you are aware of it or not. It’s what people see, hear and feel when you walk into a room and is therefore made up of the following elements:

  • Your skills and experience; the cognitive skills that enable you to do the work you do
  • Your behaviours, which are driven by your values and beliefs and goals
  • Your personal appearance – what you wear and how you look, the latter of these being not just your grooming, but how you sit, stand, walk and talk.


14. Reviewing your brand

The assessment of your brand is a continual process, or at least it should be.

  • Make regular checks to review your brand.
  • Take stock at significant moments, such as when applying for a new job.
  • Take note of small signs that your brand is not effective and prioritise areas for improvement.
  • Remember always to return to your values.


15. Pitfalls

There are some potential pitfalls that can hamper your efforts to develop an effective personal brand and you need to recognise these.

  • You develop a brand based on what others think you should do. A personal brand is about being authentic and being true to your values, so you may need to learn how to stand your ground.
  • You develop a brand which doesn’t fit with your organisation. In this case, it’s time to start looking for somewhere that suits your values and your brand.
  • You develop a brand which just doesn’t feel right. In this case, you need to return to your values.