A personal brand is something that everyone and their dog seems to have these days. Seriously, if you’ve spent more than 5 seconds scrolling through Instagram you’ll know just how many pages of ‘doggy influencers’ there are.
Today, many believe that plastering highlight reels of carefully filtered photos on the internet are all you need to have an effective personal brand. While a social media presence is important, regardless of which field you work in, the most widely known names use this as just one of the tools in their personal brand tool belt.
You might think that you don’t need a personal brand but, like it or not, you have one already. Yes, even you. A personal brand is essentially how you ‘show up’ in the world, whatever form that may take.
If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you have also activated personal branding.
If you have a job, you have a personal brand.
If you leave your house at all, you have a personal brand.
Now, that last point might not seem like an issue with the current global climate, but it is because of recent events that cultivating a personal brand with an effective personal branding strategy has become more important than ever.
The Complete Guide to Start Personal Branding Yourself – 2021
The Real World Guide to Authentic Personal Branding
A holistic approach about the power of visibility, both online and face-to-face
What’s the Difference between Personal Brand and Personal Branding?
It might just be three little letters, but a personal brand and personal branding are two very different things.
As previously mentioned, everyone has a personal brand. But what separates ‘that-bloke-you-met-at-a-party-once-but-can’t-remember-his-name’ from a true household name is the effectiveness of their personal branding.
This is more than just an online presence. Personal branding is the activation part of your personal brand. Your personal brand is influenced among other things from your lifestyle. The decision to become the best authentic version of yourself and the choices you make every day in order to achieve that.
Anyone can choose the best images and spend hours coming up with the wittiest caption, but if their personal branding wasn’t built with gravitas on strong values, purpose, and meaning, their personal brand would crumble if anyone stepped through the digital screen and met them in reality.
Real-Life Personal Branding and Attributes:
Meeting someone face to face (or facemask to facemask) is where the rubber of your personal branding meets the road. When you meet someone in real life everything about you contributes to how you make that person feel in your presence.
Does your personality match your image? Is your character more than just skin-deep? Are your abilities showing through your actions?
These personal attributes are absorbed on both a conscious and subconscious level by everyone you meet. When you walk away from a conversation, the way you will be remembered is not by what you said or did, but how you made them feel. While an online presence is only one tool in your personal branding tool belt, in a world where our interactions online are increasing, this does add more weight to the importance of your online presence.
Building an Authentic Personal Branding System:
While an online presence is only one tool in your personal branding tool belt, in a world where our interactions online are increasing, this does add more weight to the importance of your online presence.
Anyone you meet, friends, clients, banks, potential employers, even potential lovers, all carry out their own vetting of you online. Now, putting your digital life under a microscope and making sure everything lines up nicely can easily be achieved when activated with purpose. But making your digital self congruent with your real-life self (I still find it weird we have to make that distinction) is arguably one of the biggest deciding factors in whether you will thrive in life or simply survive.
Remember the phrase ‘don’t meet your heroes’? That’s what we’re talking about. You might look like a superhero on social media, but if you don’t act like one in real life, people will feel something is off and they won’t remember you in a favourable light because you didn’t live up to their expectations.
Luckily, an effective, authentic personal branding system is all you need to turn this around and give you the keys to a life you love.
The 50 most memorable
Personal Branding Quotes
Feel free to print them out for your daily inspiration
Finding Yourself – Your Inner Image
Look in the Mirror, What do you see?
It’s at this point that many people falter. This personal branding chat was running along nicely until it came to the first hurdle — yourself.
Many of us understand what a personal brand is and why it might be nice to have some good personal branding, but once we try to put it into action our negative beliefs kick in to try and keep us inside our comfort zone.
“Am I too old for this? It sounds like a lot of work. What if I’m not smart enough? I never see anything through. What if I fail? I don’t think I can take that. I don’t have enough money to do this and I don’t deserve it anyway. I’ve tried so many things already, why would this be any different?”
If you can relate to any of these feelings (I can relate to several) you know it’s a tough mental mountain to climb. But if you want to get to the ‘top’ at times you may have to start at the bottom.
What’s your Why?
Finding your why, the motivation behind cultivating your personal brand is the first unlock to thriving in life.
Is it time to reinvent yourself? Do you want to stand out from your peers? Do you want to turn what makes you different into your biggest strengths? Do you want to be respected and admired for who you are and what you do?
Drilling down into your honest motivations may be painful if you have avoided your true driving force for a long time, but once you crystalize what it is that you really want and why this discovery will leave you feeling powerful and let you bypass that mountain of worries and negative beliefs so you can get to the other side. The side where you can take action.
Action Sounds Like Effort
It’s true, creating your dream life and achieving heights you never thought possible is going to require some effort. If it was easy everyone would do it. But look around you, what do you see?
Sadly, the majority of people find life a constant struggle, battling against financial worries, physical ailments, and chronic stress. A weak personal brand contributes to this endless strife even if you’re not aware of it.
If your personal brand is weak you come across as inauthentic and untrustworthy when you try to put yourself out there, which ultimately has a number of negative effects on your life including being treated as a ‘slave’.
When you aren’t respected because of this, you are more likely to be passed over for promotions, underpaid, and struggle to make the right professional connections.
From here it’s all too easy to slip onto a downward spiral that begins to affect your life as a whole. You struggle to make social and romantic connections, you feel a lack of power or direction, and your insecurities start to grow.
When this is the effect of a weak personal brand, it seems like putting in the effort to cultivate a strong one is something you can’t afford not to do.
Anything in life worth having doesn’t come easily, but an effective personal branding strategy will lighten the load and open up pathways to a brighter future faster than muddling through on your own.
Personal Branding Examples:
Branded vs. Non-Branded
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, we are all the same species, and we all have the same human rights. So why is it that one person gets paid at minimum wage while another can get paid over $1,000 per hour or much more?
Branding (Positioning + Promoting = Profiting)
Let’s take a look at an example of how the same thing can be priced differently.
Nowadays, many companies thrive on their transparency when it comes to the ingredients of their products. Gone are the days where all the secrets can be hidden in the fine print on jars and no one would bother to look. Increasingly, consumers want to know exactly what they are buying.
So, 100% cocoa butter. You can’t advertise like that unless it’s true so 100% means 100% whatever way you package it. But this is where branding comes into play…
You are able to buy some 100% cocoa butter for cooking that costs roughly $5. But when you buy some 100% cocoa butter for use on your face in a cosmetic context, this price can jump up to $10+.
But 100% means 100%, right? So why the difference in price?
People buy something for more money because it is from a brand that they trust and are willing to overlook this blindingly obvious hike in price.
The same thing applies to how much companies are willing to pay for people’s time. It no longer matters how qualified you are on paper. Your educational qualifications will only take you so far in an ocean of similarity. Personal branding has replaced CVs and directly equates to how much you differentiate etc. to be trusted, respected and get paid.
The Benefits of a Personal Brand
More money isn’t the only benefit you’ll get from having an effective personal brand. Arguably, the upward trajectory of your finances becomes more of a side effect to your personal branding than a goal to aim for.
Sounds ridiculous, right? Who doesn’t want more stable finances? But let’s take a look at what else you get from a strong personal brand and consider why these are also worth striving for.
Personal Branding Benefits
As previously discussed, you have to look inwards to find your motivations and if you do this seriously you will increase your self-awareness and create a deeper understanding of who you really are.
We’re not looking to turn you into a Zen master meditating in a cave, but knowing yourself and your true motivations can drastically change your perspective and improve your quality of life. Regardless of how far you take your personal branding, that’s one hell of a positive side-effect!
The Power of Personal Branding to Stand Out of Crowd:
Once you know who you are it’s easy to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Embracing your vulnerabilities and focusing your personal brand around your strengths naturally positions you as someone with expertise, knowledge, and a specific skill set that sets you apart from the competition.
When you stand out for your strengths, your confidence grows and perceived value in the marketplace immediately skyrockets and puts the power in your hands. In time you can choose where you work and influence how much you get paid (eventually).
Think of your knowledge as the cocoa butter and your personal brand as the company. You can now charge as much as you like for that cocoa butter in your brain and people will still buy it because they want your cocoa butter. I mean knowledge. You get the point…
The reason personal branding gives you so much power is because of the synergistic relationship between visibility and skill.
High Visibility, Low Skill
If everyone knows who you are but you don’t have the skills to back up any of your claims, you’ll have less power to change your life than when you started out because you now have to dig yourself out of a bad reputation for being inauthentic. Harsh.
Low Visibility, High Skill
There are plenty of people who are highly skilled and knowledgeable about what they do but no one knows about their brilliance or who they are, so they will end up stuck in the same job for the majority of their lives. Bleak.
High Visibility, Some Skill
Arguably, it’s more important to have skill than visibility so if you’re pretty good at what you do but you’re even better at marketing yourself you’re likely to thrive more than those who are more skillful but hide themselves away. Slightly more positive.
High Visibility, High Skill
However, things really start to take off when you combine the two effectively. If you are connected and known by lots of people and you have the goods to back it all up, 1+ 1 no longer equals 2. You now have the power to pick and choose how much you earn, who you work for and what your work/life balance looks like because you have all the control. 1 + 1 = Pick a number.
Steps to Personal Branding of Yourself:
By now you should be fully aware of why cultivating a strong personal brand is within your best interests if you want a rich and fulfilling life, but how do you get there? With an authentic personal branding system.
The most effective personal branding is created with three steps:
1. Building your foundations deep
2. Promoting yourself to a wider audience
3. Taking action and reaping the rewards
The majority of people on social media and the Instagram Influencer market jump in at step 2 trying to promote a brand that has no roots and is easily thrown off balance. Unfortunately, this leaves a lot of people floundering in the promotion phase, never quite building their brand, and struggling to reach step 3 where they would have the power to take action in the direction they want and begin to get some benefits.
Step 1: Building Strong Brand Foundations
The deeper the foundations of a brand the more credibility it has. And credibility is everything when you start to promote yourself.
If you have an answer to every question asked because you’ve done your research and tested your theories to their limits, people will see you as an expert and come to you for advice. Jump in too early and you risk being branded as a fraud.
Equally, if you haven’t taken the time to think about what it is that makes you different your content will just appear like a re-hash of so many other personal brands. But if you have a fresh new perspective on a subject that no one has considered before, you’ll start to be known for your own voice and that is the only way to create a sustainable personal brand.
If it’s an original idea but you don’t really believe it, no one can fake it forever. You are becoming a person of influence, not just an influencer.
Step 2: Start the Ground Work before Promotion
Once your feet are firmly on the right ground, you’re ready to let people know about the next BIG thing in town — you! However, personal branding of yourself isn’t just putting content all over the place like an ad agency looking to burn their budget, there’s a lot more to consider.
This is more than just your image — this is ultimately, your brand reputation.
First off is research. Just like the foundation of your personal branding you have to put in some groundwork if you want to do something properly. Who are your ideal clients and what are they looking for? What is your dream employer looking for? What would make you invaluable to any employer? How would your personal brand come across through media coverage?
Step 3: No Media, Until You Ready to Do It
Hold on, media? Yes, in every sense of the word. One of the biggest mistakes someone can make with their personal branding strategy is to think that their online presence consists only of a carefully choreographed Instagram account.
No, no, no.
A truly effective online presence that will get you noticed over time uses mainstream media in all its forms:
– Social Media
– Business Social – LinkedIn
– Online Events
– Print Media (Newspaper, magazines etc.)
– Radio and Television
I know that seems like a lot to swallow but when you first start out this is just your goal to aim for. You don’t have to be putting out content across all of these platforms every single day, not until you’re ready to do it!
Step 4: Make Real-Life Connections
As you grow your personal brand a key part is the real-life connections you make on the ground within your personal network. Most contact with those who can seriously help propel your career forward in a meaningful way will be done face to face with meetings, lunches, calls (okay, not strictly face to face) on a one-to-one basis.
You will struggle to move your personal brand forward if you are only ever a face behind a screen (yes, even during these times). Zoom helps but it is only one tool of many in your tool box. You leave your biggest and best impression when you meet someone in the flesh and this is where your online presence and personal persona match up to create a magnetic personal brand.
Time for the Personal Branding Action Plan
This is where you take action, get results, and maintain your positive life trajectory. If you follow this strategy to personal branding the potential upside of investing in yourself has no limit. You will feel a sense of personal power like you never have before and you will be 100% in control of which direction you take your life.
Personal Power = Authority, Influence, and Impact. If you just want a leg up in life, personal branding can help you get there. A new job. That overdue promotion. Becoming an authentic authority that is respected by their peers.
The Real World Guide to Authentic Personal Branding
A holistic approach about the power of visibility, both online and face-to-face
But if you want more, that’s also within reach.
Jon Michail INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED PERSONAL BRAND / IMAGE ADVISOR, has real-world approach to business and life, helped transform thousands of people in their business, career and personal endeavours.
He is a regular commentator in international media organizations including Forbes, ABC, CNN, NBC, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Success, The Financial Review, and Vogue.
When personal branding is done right, the sky is the limit.