Does Your Personal Brand Reflect Your Authentic Self?
Today’s business leaders need to understand the importance of branding and how it allows them to get ahead in a cut-throat marketplace. While personal branding has grown and evolved over the years, its primary focus is still on the inner person, their strengths and beliefs.
What is Personal Branding?
Personal branding is a creative display that intentionally allows a glimpse into the inner workings of an individual. Whether you like it or not, the world is going to form an opinion about you. It’s important to actively shape how you’re perceived by taking command of your personal brand and allowing it to resonate with your intended audience.
Your personal brand is a reflection of your personality, so you need to delve into your psyche to determine your inner self. This realistic assessment should showcase your strengths, weaknesses, skills and activities that you enjoy, without being a me-centered attempt at self-promotion.
Some people shoot before they aim, projecting a personal brand before doing the groundwork. But clearly defining your brand, and what it stands for, should be carefully worked out when creating a public presence.
In the 90s, Oprah Winfrey was pressured to do more trash-talk, Jerry Springer-style shows. But that didn’t resonate with her core values. Instead, she made the smart decision to focus on self-improvement and personal growth, which took her popularity to new heights. Her empathetic style and consistent message of taking personal responsibility enabled her to connect emotionally with a wide audience. Now, without her network show to regularly reach viewers, she’s on a new mission to revamp brand Oprah. It’s always interesting to see how she reinvents herself.
Consumers are turned off by cookie-cutter businesses that are afraid to be authentic. The key is to figure out what you can truly offer to other people and consistently deliver over time. While you don’t want to offend, you still want to make a genuine presence with your outlook and views.
A logo or tagline isn’t enough to sufficiently identify a brand. According to the Rountree Group, a public relations agency in Atlanta, a brand image also needs to be established by linking it to topical issues and events. The issue should relate to your business, what you stand for, and are passionate about. For instance, a real estate entrepreneur who specializes in sustainable buildings could easily associate himself with an environmental issue.
Cornerstone of Communication
Your personal brand gives you the opportunity to communicate with potential customers. A well-shaped public image can strengthen the foundation that you’ve built your brand on. It can also add to the durability you’ll experience into the future and make your company a place where the sharpest employees want to work. However, failure to do so can have an adverse effect and cause others to solely form judgments based on their perceptions instead of your own.
Creating a healthy brand, whether personal or corporate, always requires working from the inside out rather than the outside in. According to Harvard Business School professor Nancy Koehn, http://nancykoehn.com an investment in the internal culture of your company, such as your mission and employees, is even more important than dollars spent on advertising and other external factors.
A personal brand is a public outlet that solidifies who you are and what you believe in. Showing your true face to the world can feel riskier than wearing a false mask. But as every cutting-edge leader knows, being authentic in your pursuits, beliefs and outlook will strengthen your personal brand, create a real connection with your target audience, and garner the success you deserve.
Ashlyn Haldeman is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. She enjoys covering lifestyle topics, especially health, fitness and the arts. She also blogs about legal and marketing issues. Research for this article was obtained from the website of the Rountree Group, a public relations agency in Atlanta, GA.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/6829417439
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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites MyOnlineCareerSpace.com and MyOnlineCareerCoach.com, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook.