The term “personal branding” refers to a process of promoting and establishing yourself as well as the things you stand for. A personal brand is formed by combining elements like experiences, expertise, and personalities, which makes a person unique in and of themselves. When done efficiently, personal branding sets one apart from others in their respective industries. Personal branding sounds rather unusual, as people are more conversant with organizational branding. However, in this age of the internet where everything lives almost forever online, the concept might just be crucial now more than ever. Unlike corporate branding, a personal brand is etched into the minds of your target audience, as well as the market. Think of personal branding as a means of communicating and offering your value to the world. Let’s consider another perspective on the concept. A personal brand is a means of promoting yourself. It is a distinct combination of elements that you want the world to see in you. It’s the way you tell your story to your onlookers, and how that story is indicative of your words (spoken and unspoken), behavior, attitudes, and conduct.
From a professional standpoint, your personal brand is what people imagine when they think of or see you. It could be a culmination of how they perceive your personality in real life, or how the media conveys you. It could also be the impression you people gain from browsing the internet. The associative capacity of branding is as weird as it gets, but even that can be a selling point when utilized effectively. For instance, PewDiePie is in and of himself a personal brand. People think of him as the king of gamers or the biggest YouTube crusader alive. And that’s just one person out of many who’ve gone on to excel at personal branding.
But beyond your personal heroics, a good personal brand also involves what others have to say about you as much as it is about what you think of yourself. The word as we know it is astutely focused on branding, so much so that the crucible of the concept is almost forgotten. Branding is a mere formality, a scratch of the surface in comparison to brand, which is more of an emotional attachment. For instance, just about anyone can take great pictures with a good phone and get top-notch designers to create brand webpages with stunning personal designs. However, all of that is shallow and the surface of what actually is. Personal branding differentiates you from others, but your brand is what constitutes everything you stand for. When done right, personal branding can factor into your business in several ways more than corporate branding. And then success is almost a given.
A flexible quality of personal branding is that you can choose to ignore it and let it grow organically. It’s not a given this growth would be streamlined, chaotic likely, and it may span beyond your control. Alternatively, you can manage the growth of your personal brand to follow the path of path personality. Think Cristiano Ronaldo. From donning the number 7 shirt at Manchester United to becoming a force in it, he’s gone on to incorporate it into his personal brand, CR7. His growth as a brand exploded from his tireless efforts on and off the pitch. Before the days of the internet, personal branding was down to a miniature business card. In those times if you weren’t a high-profile individual discussed on mass media, or featured heavily in a popular advertising campaign, little to no person would have heard about you. However, the case is largely different in today’s society, where the world is fast becoming a global, public, and interconnected place. The smallest of actions carried out in secrets is discussed on social media, and anonymity is a prize only a lucky few can afford.
Why is it important?
Since we have progressed to the point where anonymity is rare and everything is available on the internet, being influential is a great bargaining chip. And if you must develop a strong personal brand, you best be ready to put yourself out there. Personal branding is the distinctive factor that tells you apart from all others, and you can use it to convey your expertise and knowledge in your areas of speciality. More often than not, a personal brand is an underlying factor behind how memorable people are. For instance, the Kardashian sisters are popular because of their family’s branding, which served as the pedestal for their personal branding. In turn, their personal branding is how we can tell them apart or remember them even.
The millennial demographic especially, have little to no trust for advertising. And rightly so, too. According to studies, up to 84 percent of millennials have no trust for either advertisement campaigns or the brand behind those ads. Nonetheless, millennials are prepared to take the leap of faith for people they feel they know. Take a moment to digest that. A millennial would hurriedly hand their money to a brand if someone who they don’t know half as much as their next-door neighbour is used in an as. Even if the brands behind the ads are ones that they hate. A good instance to consider is the debate over the use of masks in the wake of the pandemic. Some Americans were hugely against the use of masks, a substantial number of them Trump supporters. But the one minute the president donned a mask, they thought it looked cool and decided to jump on the bandwagon. And most of them aren’t even millennials.
This behavior has made businesses stop and rethink their approach to marketing. As a matter of fact, this behavior is one of the leading reasons why influencer marketing has become a successful strategy in business in recent past years. Businesses are starting to incline towards personalizing high ranking social media influencers in their marketing strategies. For smaller businesses, it is even much easier to make this transition as there is little to no difference between the business and the sole trader. The challenges increase for bigger companies. However, there are those that deal with it correctly. If you didn’t already know, Steve Jobs wasn’t the only creator of Apple. There was someone else, name of Steve Wozniak who worked on creating the products, while Jobs focused on marketing and sales. But what made Jobs the face of Apple was his knowledge and use of personal branding even before the phrase became an industrial concept. In the same vein, the personal brand that is Elon Musk precedes the corporate brand that is his company, Tesla.
It is only sensible that the owner or manager of any business bonds with their target audiences or consumer bases on an individual level before trying to sell the company’s message to them.
Understanding Personal Branding
Both professionally and personally, a personal brand is an important thing to own. Think of it as a CV that can be presented to potential or already existing clients. It is a sure way of ensuring that people perceive you in the light that you need them. The alternative to this is a more arbitrary, and somewhat detrimental perception. You don’t want that. Personal branding serves as a platform for highlighting your strengths, passions, ethics, among others. It bridges the gap of being strangers, and people tend to feel they know you more. With it, you gain the trust of people who are otherwise strangers to you. And who people know, they trust, even if you haven’t met any of them in person. A good example of this scenario is at play during the elections. Many people tend to be out for candidates with views on issues that resonate with them. For others, the process is rather tiring and they don’t bother with it. Instead, they tend to vote for the candidate whose name they can recognize. Thus, it is no wonder why candidates with a strong personal brands tend to succeed more in the political landscape, regardless of the validity of their political and personal beliefs. I mean, Donald Trump is the president of the United States, because he has a personal brand. He’d been lurking around the political and business landscape long enough to get the attention of people. This helped him create a strong personal brand that attracted the vote of the masses.
Personal Branding Examples
When creating a personal brand, you need to do a lot of introspective and extensive self-reflection. Doing this helps you know yourself more, you’d be surprised at just how much of yourself you were ignorant of. For most people, it is rather difficult to describe yourself to others, and most would often find it much easier to explain themselves to others. Does it strike you as odd how you suddenly fall short of creativity when it’s time to pick a username? That’s no ordinary behavior. We want to come off as the best at what we are, but sometimes we are unable to see ourselves beyond what we know. If your purpose of creating a personal brand is to boost the performance of your business, you are better off ensuring that you know and understand your target audience. It’s best if your personal branding matches the audience you hope to reach.
To help you better understand how to do this, well consider some tips and tricks of personal branding. Take Hugh Hefner for example. The image he conveyed to his audience throughout his life was one and the same. The term personal branding might be alien to him even, yet he was able to be the face of the Playboy brand for years. He lived a lifestyle longed for by many, envied even. However, he would have been able to manage that if he was in charge of a more conservative brand and targeted customers that upheld political correctness. Hefner is a prime example of personal branding done right.
Another example is the infamous David Beckham, who is a retired footballer cum fashion aficionado. During his playing days, Beckham never had a hair out of place and tried to look his best on and off the pitch. With that behavior, he was able to land the interest of top brands who wanted him to wear them. He was literally a walking fashion mannequin, appearing in designer clothes and representing brands. He sure was a good footballer, but not the best of his time. But his proficiency in good wears gave him a brand outside of football that he still uses to this day.
A final example to consider is Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. Musk is a tech guru with an innovative mind, and he’s never stopped to wow the world with just how great technology can get. This gets him invited to speak on subjects as unpredictable and broad as artificial intelligence. It makes him dream of putting men on other planets. He alone would not have been able to do this, meaning many others key into his dreams of a technologically advanced world. Musk is a personal brand— a statement in and of himself.