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What is Personal Branding?
Branding and marketing exercises are no longer confined to commercial products and corporate entities, as is evident by the growing popularity of personal branding. Nowadays, almost everything and everyone can be made into a brand. Not only products but people, activities, and lifestyle can become brands in their own rights if marketed and publicized intelligently and efficiently. Personal branding happens on an individual level. In other words, it revolves around creating, maintaining, and, if need be, modifying the image of a person. This image molding is done by taking into consideration certain individual personality parameters such as lifestyle, fashion sense, knowledge, ideas and opinions, activities and career, media and digital presence, etc. Let’s delve a bit deeper to understand all facets of this concept, shall we?
Personal Branding – The Concept
As mentioned above, personal branding revolves around the image and activities of a person, taking into consideration a particular set of personality and individual parameters. The central purpose of personal branding is marketing oneself, one’s works, and one’s career as a brand in order to garner support from the public in general or particular group(s) thereof, and attract economic investment from people who may be interested in the commercial aspect of such a brand. Yes, the commercial aspect. Believe me, in this day and age, you can dig out a commercial aspect of just about anything! Moving forward, an individual can add that extra zing to his/her enterprise, craft, or field of academic or professional expertise by marketing themselves to differentiate them from the rest of the crowd.
How to Create a Personal Brand
A personal brand is created by articulating and highlighting an individual’s personal values, professional acumen, and social image. These are mapped with each other and voila! You get a personal brand that is ready to be leveraged across various relevant platforms to achieve commercial and/or social goals. Personal branding benefits the individuals by way of earning them recognition as experts in their fields, establishing their reputation as such, and lending credibility to their association. The following points lay down the steps of how to go about developing a personal brand:-
- Take the time and effort to understand your brand instead of just slapping on cooked-up one. Write down what you believe in, what you want to do in your life, how you want people to perceive you and your work. Think of how your peers such as friends and colleagues would define you. Have you often been called smart or witty? Do they keep telling you how dependable you are? The answers to such questions can help you outline your brand identity.
- Build upon the brand identity you just created by following the previous step. Become the best in your field of expertise. Enhance your marketable attributes such that those traits become easily associable with you. Add skills to your armory that are related or complementary to your core brand identity.
- Market yourself well. Meticulously lay down your brand identity in personal communication by preparing your resumes, business cards, cover letters, etc., in a specialized manner. Make your presence felt on social media by publicizing your brand value. On that note, make sure that you select the appropriate tools and channels for publicity. Never overdo it. Remember, not all publicity is good and being selective about it is the best way to keep your image and reputation secure.
- Build networks and keep them active. Establish contacts and stay in touch with them. Build relationships that carry word of your brand far and wide. Establish good rapport with people who matter. Word-of-mouth publicity is the most effective publicity as it travels far and fast.
- Last but not the least, always walk you talk. If who you are does not go anywhere close to what you want to project, your game will eventually be up. You may fool some people for a short while but ultimately the truth will prevail. Once that happens, no amount of damage control effort will get your previous brand value back. In such a case, you may have to reinvent your brand but even then, there will always be that tiny smudge of distrust maligning the lapels of your projected brand image.
One of the best examples of personal branding is Steve Jobs. After a certain point in Apple Inc.’s timeline, the identity of the company was strengthened by its association with Job, and not vice versa. We can see evidence of this in the sudden downward shift in Apple’s stock trend on Jobs’s demise. In general also, whenever a product or a company is associated with one dominant and robust personal brand, that personality’s presence or absence from the company’s stakeholding directly affects the company’s performance in the stock market. A recent example which is also close to the home field is that of Narayana Murthy’s departure from and subsequent return to Infosys.