10 Apr 8 Steps to Brand Greatness: The Essential Checklist to Build Your Personal Brand
From your name to your content, to your values, your followers and the people in your circle who matter most are constantly evaluating your personal brand and your story. Make it count. Wow them. Even a professional with no intention of stepping into the limelight will find immense value in forging a great personal brand. This not only serves the purposes of pleasing the audience of an influencer with thousands of followers but can also greatly benefit any employee who is careful not to send the wrong message to employers, colleagues, clients or potential partners. Here’s a handy checklist to help you along your path of forging your own:
FIND YOUR TRUE IDENTITY:
Answer the following questions: Who am I? Where am I going? What makes me unique or different? Clear answers to these questions help you establish a strong identity, and you must always stay true to yourself. Once your identity is forged, you must believe in it firmly, in order to sell it to others. Believe in yourself, envision your goals and place yourself in the path you want for your brand. Also remember, your identity and set of beliefs will determine your actions and should be consistent.
ESTABLISH YOUR PURPOSE:
Purpose moves you every day of your life. Do you have a powerful reason to wake up every morning? Solid brands are built upon a central purpose or set of core values, and you should model your personal brand in the same way. Identifying your purpose will also define your vision, which is what you hope to accomplish by fulfilling your purpose. As one of our favorite authors, Simon Sinek, states, it all starts with a ‘Why’ and understanding this si key to propelling your brand forward. Why do you do what you do? What is your ultimate reason for living, or at least the drive force of your career? It might be a strong desire to make a difference, change the world, impact the lives of others, or simply improve the quality of life of your family. Whichever is your ‘why’, you should keep it in your mind at all times.
VOICE YOUR BRAND TO DEFINE AN AUDIENCE:
After defining your identity, purpose, vision and ‘why’, now we need to direct our brand voice to a specific audience. The brand voice is not what you say but how you say it, and how you communicate your message to your target market. A brand voice should be distinctive, recognizable and unique. It embodies and expresses your personality, your set of values, what drives you, and what you want to share with the world. It is all about consistency. For your brand and voice to stick you need to incorporate it in all aspects of your life: business cards, mottos, taglines, bios, social media, hashtags, blogs, portfolios, conversations with strangers and friends, etc. What’s the point of a brand if no one knows about it?
START BUILD A FOLLOWING:
Once it is out there you need an audience to see it. How do you build followers or supporters? You should attend networking events as much as possible and start creating mutually beneficial relationships with new contacts. Designing and launching your own digital platform is essential to directing your audience to the right place. This could be a blog or a website. If you haven’t already created one, it’s a good idea to claim a domain in your own name for consistency and visibility. Create great contagious and shareable content in a variety of media including text, video, and images in order to keep your followers coming back for more.
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SHARE CONTENT STRATEGICALLY:
The content you create and share in your social media profiles, blogs and website all reflect who you are, what you stand for, your interests, and what you believe in. This is why content should be shared strategically. It is very important to know your audience and to keep yourself relevant and consistent to your brand. Well-placed content gives you credibility and builds your reputation by showing that you are always up-to-date with the latest news and trends in your industry of choice. Conversely, you should be fully aware of what we share through these channels, as image is everything and certain behaviors or content can harm you, close doors for you and/or ruin your reputation.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF AND WITH OTHERS:
Honesty is a great asset to anyone’s personal brand. People tend to be prone to a little exaggeration when they meet someone, but try to never misrepresent yourself by making false statements, or by portraying yourself as an expert in an area you only know little about. Let your skills, expertise, and work speak for you. Oprah never called herself ‘The Queen of All Media.’ People recognized her with that title after she built her brand with a vision, a purpose, a why, values, and goals. It’s all about being as authentic and genuine as possible. This creates a transparent, clear, approachable and trustworthy relationship with others and takes you back to step one, ‘stay true to yourself’. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
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CAREFULLY SELECT IMAGES:
You want people to know who you are. It is great to have professional headshots and close-ups on your social media profiles, in your portfolio and websites. People want to see faces before they follow a person. In this matter, it is very important to be careful what kind of pictures you share. Pictures can speak a thousand words. An image can ruin years of hard-earned reputation and credibility in mere seconds.
NEVER NEGLECT YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Knowledge is everything. Never stop learning. The more you know, the more you’ll grow. Always try to keep up-to-date on your area of expertise. Learn new skills or enhance the ones you possess. It is beneficial to attend workshops, conferences, and other events. If you don’t have much time to spare, you can take relevant online workshops or courses. Read articles and books specific to your trend. If you want to take your brand to the next level, you must always make time for personal development within your area.
Use the results of this self-exploration to create a vision of ‘what’ and ‘who’ you are. Plan how to accomplish the goals that will spring naturally from such an analysis. Always remember that you are what you project outward and that you should portray your brand in all aspects of your life. We all have many skills and abilities to share with the world around us, but they will amount to nothing if we do not create a cohesive brand for the world to see and follow.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2014 Issue of VETTA Magazine.