Personal Branding has taken center stage in 2009, and appropriately so. In business, a brand is everything that your customers know about you. Every contact they have with you helps to build that brand, good or bad. As it relates to personal branding, the economic times are creating a tight jobs market and competition is fierce. The good news is that the social web provides a fantastic distribution and communication platform to enable anyone to create a brand identity and stand out from the crowd.
Back to brand basics
If you’re new to the concept of Personal Branding, a good place to start is literally Branding 101. Let’s look at the business world for strategies and tactics that translate to your personal branding efforts. Because of globalization and the competitive nature of business today, nearly all industries are being forced to brand heavily and be more strategic that they ever have in the past. In today’s world, competitors can copy almost anything in a matter of weeks or months. Any great idea will be copied before long. It’s practically guaranteed that somebody will not only do a better job but will sell the product or service at a lower price. The question is then, “What is my competitive edge that cannot be duplicated by anyone else?” The answer for any business is OUR BRAND.
Some say that a brand is the one thing that you own that nobody can take away from you.Everything else can be stolen. Think about it – someone can steal your trade secrets. Patents eventually expire. Physical plants will wear out. Technology will change. But your brand can endure. It creates a lasting value above and beyond all the other elements of your business.
Brands carry a personality. In many ways the personality is even more real than the other aspects of the brand because it is the outstretched hand that touches the consumer as an individual. Think of Google, Starbucks, McDonalds. These brands’ personality might offer the single most important reason why consumers choose them over competing brands. Now think Windows Vista or New Coke, and even Crocs. These brands’ personality speak just as loudly, but not as favorably!
What about your BRAND YOU? What is the personality you want your brand to convey? You can begin by answering these questions:
- What is your BRAND YOU personality?
- Who are your primary competitors and what is their brand personality?
- What can BRAND YOU offer that is different?
Make it yours
You need to own your personal brand development. First, know that the competitive landscape is fierce and unrelenting. Second, know that Brand YOU is the best weapon you have in beating the competition to land the job, or the strategic partner, or the financing you are seeking. Your terrific education, community service, stellar background, and superb skills are not enough. YOU have to develop the brand and the brand personality that will make BRAND YOU the first choice of those you want to influence.
No one can take that away from you.
Beverly Macy is Managing Partner at Y&M Partners LLC in Beverly Hills. She also teaches a social media class at UCLA and is organizer of the Gravity Summit event at UCLA February 25, 2009.