Be Your Own Brand

Your Complete Personal Branding Strategy Guide for 2018.

Branding is a development process wherein the brand in question communicates its value to the world. When you associate a service or product with a specific logo or name, that's branding at work. But the practice is not just limited to products and services you can turn your public persona into a brand. Thus, the term personal branding. When you develop yours, you put yourself in a position to succeed in every aspect of life, including professional progress.

Why should you focus on your personal brand?

While you may be the most skilled personnel, a hard worker, or the most productive member of the workforce, all this becomes moot if you don't have a good standing with your professional peers. This is where personal branding comes in. By building a recognizable personal brand, you establish a reputation that increases your opportunities for a better job, better recognition, better social network, and more.

But building a good reputation doesn't happen overnight. You need to put in the time and effort as well as use the proper strategy to build your brand. Let this step-by-step help you create your path to finding personal branding success.

Step 1: Planning

Businesses often start with the mission and vision of the founder. Personal branding needs to begin the same way-and only you can define yourself and the brand you want to become. You may not have control over every facet of your life, but you can build a long-term vision for yourself and plan the process that helps you achieve that vision. Start by identifying the traits and characteristics that make you unique. Ask yourself what motivates you and makes you happy. Look back on your accomplishments and the skills you have honed over the years. Then strategize on how you can 'sell' yourself. Planning helps you establish a professional purpose for your personal brand, and paves the way for the effective implementation of the ensuing steps.

Step 2: Build Your Credibility

Personal branding compels you to treat your reputation as an essential part of your life. When someone looks you up online, the information that they find about you needs to say that you are trustworthy, and whatever you say or do comes off as genuine. To walk the talk, you need to do two things:

  • Clean up iffy content on your online channels - Check your website (if you have one), blogs, and social media channels and remove any content that puts your brand in a bad light. Be thorough, because there's always a chance that an old post, share, comment, or even a simple 'like' from many years back could haunt you and undo all your branding efforts. Be on the lookout for content that makes you come off as unprofessional, irresponsible, anti-social, etc.
  • Develop a strong online presence - Once you feel confident that you've removed and deleted all content that could put your personal brand at risk, it's time to start building a strong online presence that leaves a great impression. Think of your characteristics and how they benefit your social interactions. Are you smart, cool, funny, engaging? Ask yourself, what would people get by being around you? Your characteristics can dictate the best careers for you, so think carefully. Make a list of words and descriptions that display your values, strengths, passions, interests, goals, etc., then make sure all your posts reflect them.

Step 3: Identify Your Audience

Brands are nothing without their audience. Every step on this list is designed to make sure you connect with your intended audience and vice versa. However, before this can happen, you need to know who your audience is. For instance, if you're job hunting, then you have to build yourself up for a potential employer. Whether it's a company owner, recruiter, manager, influencers and even peers, knowing the exact audience you want to target makes it easier for your brand message to be more effective. When you know your audience, you'll be able to identify the best places to connect with them and tailor your message in a way that best catches their attention.

Step 4: Nurture Your Audience

You've earned your audience's attention, now hold it. When it comes to nurturing your audience, visibility is of utmost importance, so take measures to increase your visibility to your audience to ensure personal brand recognition. This can be done by:

  • Networking - the right connections can open amazing opportunities. When you know the places frequented by your target audience, then be present in them. Attend events. Hang out at the same places they do. Initiate conversations. When it comes to personal branding, socialization and networking efforts will always come in handy.
  • Content creation - when it comes to developing a strong online persona, producing content on a regular basis is a must. When making your content, be sure to focus on your target audience's interests to make it more appealing.
  • Keyword strategy - content creation and keyword research always go hand in hand, as both are key to getting found online easily. Use keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner to identify keywords and phrases relevant to your personal brand and industry, then incorporate these into the content that you produce for your online channels. Make sure you use those keywords organically.
  • Direct contact - you can also take a more direct approach to engage your audience, such as sending a message on social media, emailing, even calling them on the phone. People generally appreciate the extra attention and feel they must reciprocate. This can do wonders for your brand.

Step 5: Keep an Eye on Your Brand

Reputation is never a one-and-done affair. After you've established your brand and grown your audience, you'll need to ensure your brand message stays consistent and perception of you remains steady. In other words, know what people are saying about you. While you have no control over other people's opinions, you can at least respond to them appropriately. Do a quick Google search on yourself at least once a month. If you have a bit of a reputation already, do so once a week. When you find new details, discussions, and information about you, ask yourself, how do they appear to your audience? If they lean on the negative side, you might want to reach out to the author. By interacting with the author, perhaps you can address their concerns about you, and maybe change their opinion. Engage them in a discussion, and you'll develop your communication skills while potentially enhancing your reputation.

Hopefully, this guide can help you build the ideal personal brand. Perform the steps with caution and wisdom to develop yourself the way you want to.

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