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What’s in a Name?

Three Essential Elements to Building Your Personal Brand

What do Apple, BMW, Coca-Cola and Brad Pitt have in common? In addition to being fabulous, they all have a well-known reputation, a brand. Now, if you are anything like me, this seems obvious for the large organizations on this list but Brad Pitt? A person as a brand? Doesn’t that only work for people like Mark Echo?

 

Beyond the Buzzword

The short answer is of course no. Everyone has a brand (whether you are keen to admit it or not). The term personal branding is a pretty hot buzzword being thrown around these days and you are probably familiar with the concept. But for those of you who may not spend your afternoon reading miscellaneous business blogs littered with the newest lingo and for those of us who can always use a refresher, here is a simple definition of personal branding: a self-application form of marketing, where you articulate your value to an audience, with the sole mission to build a reputation and credibility for your niche or idea – essentially, how to be yourself with skill.

Stand Out with Your Personal Brand

As a Millennial business professional I realize just how critical this task is. With a world of possibilities in front of me it is essential to brand myself in such a manner that intrigues future employers, empowers the team around me and sets the tone for my career development. The same is true for you.

However, knowing about this concept and actually using it are two very different things. So this leaves us wondering, “How can I use personal branding to advance my career?” This is an excellent question. While personal branding is an expansive topic and we will not be able to cover everything right here and right now, I want to share a few things that can help guide you when developing your personal brand.

 

1. Embrace the “Youness” of You

First, do you know what makes you exceptional? A wise man once stated, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” While the little children who read these words of the trusted Dr. Seuss often wonder, “how can I be anyone but me,” it is scary how often we lose sight of who we are in the midst of the humdrum of everyday adulthood. The first step in developing a powerful personal brand is simply getting to know you.

Ask yourself: What do you stand for? What drives your motivation? What defines success? What do you LOVE to do?

 

2. Stand Out Above The Crowd

We intuitively know that everyone is different, like snowflakes taking on unique shapes and patterns, yet we are taught from a young age to only focus on similarities so that conflict will not arise. Often we revert back to this habit in the workplace and mute our differences for the sake of corporate culture and not wanting to rock the boat. Yet the truth is everyone has something that marks him or her as a unique asset. Something not limited to a company or position (although certainly something that benefits the organization). Something good. The challenge is to find what differentiates you and how that difference is a strength, not only for your company and team, but for your career. Now is the time to stand out, not to blend in.

 Ask yourself: Why are you different? What makes you better, different, or more special? What makes you unique? What makes you stand out?

 

3. Marketing Matters

After establishing what you stand for and what makes you stand out, the question remains: “what makes you compelling?” The third element of an effective personal brand lies in your ability to articulate your value. You know what you do for your company better than anyone. You know the intricacies of the work, the role that you play, and how your efforts contribute to the success of your company. Marketing yourself in the workplace may seem shady or selfish but it is critical if you desire to grow your career. Let me suggest a paradigm shift from marketing to markEDing – where your goal is not to sell yourself but to educate your audience about the awesomeness of you. While possibly the most challenging of the three, this is the most important for advancing your career because it involves making connections, knowing your audiences and communicating your value.

 Ask Yourself: What is one thing you have done for your current (most recent) employer that wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t there? In what critical areas do you add value? How does your team and/or organization benefit from your work?

 

The Light At the End

Using these elements to craft a well-executed personal branding campaign creates a strong, consistent, and specific association between you and the value you offer. To say that creating a brand and living up to it is easy would be a lie. It takes commitment to create, cultivate, and maintain a positive brand but the results far exceed the effort.

Personal branding:

  • Is the most effective way to clarify and communicate what makes you different, special, and valuable to employers and customers – and use those qualities to guide your career.
  • Is the most effective and innovative strategy you can use to achieve professional success and fulfillment.
  • Allows you to clearly communicate the unique promise of value that you have to offer.
  • Enables you to leverage what distinguishes you from others with similar skills and abilities.

There is no time to waste. Figure out what you stand for, what makes you stand out, and what makes you compelling. Then craft your personal brand statement – just do it.