A personal brand will help you grow in your career. But, how important is it, and what should it include? In this lesson, we examine the importance of building an authentic personal brand.
Kamal is looking for his first job. His buddy Jesus is looking for a promotion. Both want to have the best chance for succeeding, and they've heard that building a personal brand will help. However, they aren't sure exactly what that means.
Branding is a marketing term that describes the process of distinguishing a company from the competition. This can involve the company's logo, advertising, message, and other elements. The key is to make sure that people know their company's brand, or what makes them unique.
Companies aren't the only ones who use branding. Many workers these days are focused on building a personal brand, which is what distinguishes them from others. It is a cohesive message about a person's values, contributions, and vision, especially when it comes to professional life.
Another way to think about personal branding is that it is how people perceive you. Thanks to the Internet and social media, everyone has a brand whether they've intentionally created it or not. Kamal's posts about his family and photos from his fraternity's latest party are all out there, impacting his personal brand.
So why is a personal brand important? And how can Kamal and Jesus build personal brands that reflect who they really are? To answer these questions, let's take a closer look.
Importance of a Personal Brand
Both Kamal and Jesus already have a personal brand online. But is that brand hurting or helping them?
Relationships are at the heart of business. Individuals represent the company they work for, and some companies are wary of hiring or promoting individuals that might be a detriment to their brand. If Kamal is looking for a job at a very conservative company that promotes traditional values, photos of him going wild at a frat party may be problematic. Likewise, if Jesus posts a lot of controversial political opinions, his company might not want to promote him to a position of great visibility as his opinions might be taken for his company's.
In an ideal situation, Kamal's and Jesus' personal brands will position them as ideal employees, offer them a platform for future growth, and allow them to control the way people perceive them. For example, Kamal can tailor his personal brand to reflect what a hard worker and creative thinker he is. Jesus can focus his brand around the invaluable contributions he's made at the company where he works. In both cases, their personal brands make them more attractive to companies, which increases their chances of being hired and promoted.
Building a Personal Brand
Kamal thinks building a brand seems pretty easy; he'll delete any posts or pictures that contradict the views of the company for which he's applying. For good measure, he'll throw in some posts that promote the values of the company's owners.
But Jesus is a little more skeptical. He doesn't want to present himself as something he's not. Is there a way to build a successful personal brand without being phony? Is it really all about just presenting what you think people want to hear from you?
Authenticity is key to building a personal brand. It's important to communicate who you truly are, otherwise your brand will seem fake and disallow you good opportunities.
Let's go back to Jesus for a moment. He's very politically active and has strong political views. Right now, his political views might be getting in the way of his promotion, but he doesn't want to change those views to get it. If he writes things he doesn't believe, he might get a promotion but is likely to be unhappy - both with his personal brand and in a company that has different values than him.
What can he do? He has a couple of options. He could make his strong political views part of his personal brand. This is a risky move because, as we've already discussed, it could limit his opportunities. But, it could work out well if he finds a company that shares his views.
The safer route is for Kamal to think about the passion that drives his political views and how he can use it to communicate values that others might support. For example, perhaps Jesus is passionate about everyone having equal rights. His personal brand (including his social media posts) could focus on the idea that he loves and supports many different people, regardless of whether they are like him or not. He doesn't have to post about specific policies or political news, but he can still be himself.
Inclusions in Your Personal Brand
Besides communicating who you are, an authentic personal brand should also include what you bring to the table. Take Kamal: he's a very social person. While his photos of him partying could be problematic, photos of him having fun with friends in a more tame setting, or photos of him volunteering to work with others, could still present his social personality. This is an asset to companies and clearly reflects what he brings to the table: he's a people person who can work with many different people.
In addition to the core message about who you are and what you bring to the table, a personal brand should include a tone that captures your personality. Kamal is very outgoing and funny, so his personal brand online should reflect that through fun and funny posts. In contrast, Jesus is more serious and intellectual, so his personal brand will be less lighthearted and more thoughtful and intellectual.
Regardless of what their personal brand is, it should be communicated consistently both online and in person. If Kamal is very fun and lighthearted online but never cracks a smile in real life, people will sense a disconnect between his personal brand and who he really is. In other words, they'll sense that his personal brand is not authentic.
Branding is a marketing term that companies use to describe the process of distinguishing their company from the competition. A personal brand is a cohesive message about the personal values, contributions, and vision of a person, especially when it comes to their professional life. A strong personal brand can offer a vision of an ideal employee while offering a platform for future growth and allowing a person to control how others perceive them. An authentic personal brand should communicate who the person is and include what he or she brings to the table in a tone that captures the person's personality. It should be communicated consistently both online and in person.