Are you familiar with the concept of a personal brand? Today, in a world where social media is prominent, it seems that the terms "brand" and "personal brand" get used often.
But it is no surprise, because knowing and defining your personal brand is crucial to "getting ahead" in various aspects of life. Knowing your personal brand is paramount if you want to be taken seriously by others, and it is also extremely important for reaching your own secret (or not so secret) goals and aspirations.
What am I referring to when I speak of personal branding? Very simply put, a personal brand is how you market yourself. A lot of thought goes into creating a personal brand, because a personal brand is almost like a blueprint as to what you can expect from yourself, and what others can expect from you.
A personal brand encompasses the ideas, attitudes and even aesthetics that are associated with your personality. It includes what you like, what you don't like, how you dress, what you do in your spare time, what you want to do in the future....you get the point.
One of my favourite benefits of a personal brand is that it makes decisions a whole lot easier. A personal brand essentially prescribes how you will act in different situations, because it is based on a few concepts that are central to the person you are and the person you're hoping to grow into.
So, you want one of these? Good choice.
A personal brand is something that you certainly cannot just go out and buy in a store (although you can go and buy a notepad and a pen which will help), personal brands are specially crafted, not ready-made.
And that means that the best person to create your personal brand is none other than your amazing self!
There are a few different exercises you can go through to help you define and create your personal brand:
The first exercise is about who you would like to be mentally. That's often a good basis on which to start branching out. Close your eyes and think about your ideal personality traits. This should be a mix of qualities that you already have as well as those you'd like to develop. Also think, if someone was to complement you, what words and phrases would you find particularly meaningful? Jot those down on a page in your notepad. Write as many as you can, and spread them around the page.
The second exercise takes a little more time but is definitely worth it. I like to think of it as a sort of manifesto. For this exercise, you will need to write about yourself in the third person. Use a page or two in your notepad to 'explore yourself'. You can start the exercise with a little bio - write the obvious details like your age and your job/what you study. Then expand. Write about what you do in your free time and your particular hobbies and interests.
Now get deeper - lay down your values - if you can, summarise them into your top 3 beliefs. Ideally, about a quarter of the manifesto should contain the surface stuff, the stuff other people probably already know about you or could probably find out quite easily. More importantly, the other three-quarters should go further in depth. Remember, keep it in the third person. Your sentences should start something like this:
"[YourName] strives to ..."
"[YourName] believes in..."
"[YourName] does not ..."
"[YourName] avoids ..."
Those key verbs: values, strives, believes, does/does not, avoids will really help you articulate positive behaviours that you want to continue and develop, as well as give you a reminder of those traps that you want to avoid as you go about life.
The third exercise is a visual representation of your personal brand. Basically, it's a mood board. This is one of my personal favourite ways to represent a personal brand. You can do this exercise all on the computer, or you could get a piece of coloured (or even plain) paper and stick the images on by hand.
This exercises requires that you think of all the images and aesthetics that inspire you.
Go wild, include all the unique and quirky aspects of your personality that you can find a visual representation of. The result should be a full and colourful page of items that on their own might seem random, but put together, they really represent who you are!
You might like to re-do your mood board every year or couple of years, adding and subtracting details as you change. Keeping your old mood boards will be a good idea though, just so you can see how your brand has developed over time!
To create your personal brand you might decide to do one or all three of the exercises above, it's totally up to you. I've done all three exercises, but I did them all at different times.
As well as having your personal brand laid out in some sort of visual format, it is even more important to ensure it's stored in your mind. The most useful place a personal brand can be is in your consciousness, so have it locked there.
A personal brand is a good defence against those who make critical remarks, persecute you, or simply judge you ignorantly. When you are aware of who you are and what you stand for, it's very difficult for you to get sidetracked by those who simply don't understand or appreciate what you're doing.
Those people have got it wrong. But you should get it right. You should know yourself, and act accordingly. Those people come and go, but a thoughtfully crafted personal brand remains strong - in fact, it only gets stronger with time.
From time to time, you may find it useful to get out your personal manifesto and read it out loud to yourself. When you keep reminding yourself of who you are and who you want to be, it will make it that much easier to align your thoughts and actions with your goals.
A personal brand does not play, in the sense that it will help you be quite disciplined.
Also remember that your personal brand will not stay the same forever. Sure, your core principles will remain, but your personal brand will become more refined as you experience personal changes and learn important stuff. That makes sense, right?
So my friends, I hope you enjoyed what was essentially a Know Your Personal Brand 101. Any thoughts on personal branding? Let me know down in the comments!
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