Brand power is something most businesspeople are aware of and try to harness. We spend big marketing budgets trying to build a product brand, increase brand value and maintain brand integrity. But what many people are not aware of is that they themselves are brands.
Your personal brand is perhaps more powerful than any product brand – it’s on show all the time and everything you do, from the way you dress to how you speak, reflects either positively or negatively on your brand.
Thinking about yourself as a brand is the first step to strengthening your personal brand value. You need to come up with a brand promise and brand values, in the same way you would do for your business. Your brand promise is based on the extrinsic and intrinsic qualities of your brand – how you dress, speak, present and represent yourself creates an expectation in, or brand promise to, the people you meet. So think about the extrinsic and intrinsic brand values you would most like people to associate with you and your business.
It runs deeper than mere appearances, but self-presentation is important. Hein Kaiser, National Account Director, Marcus Brewster Publicity JHB, points out: “Remember the adage that you are what you eat. The same rules apply to presentation. First impressions last, and humans are visual creatures.”
Kaiser points out that presentation is the frontline of any brand or business. So it’s important that presentation, be it of your person, your documentation or any collateral that is associated with your brand, falls in line with the intrinsic and extrinsic values that you have determined for your brand.
Building a personal brand is two-pronged. Approaching yourself as a brand and thinking about the values you want to encompass is only half the job done. The next step is to start delivering on the values that you have created for your brand. “Customers want to see that you live your message,” says Kaiser. The strength of your brand will be determined by how well you deliver on what your brand promises people.
Looking the part but not playing it can be more detrimental than you think. How many times have you heard people complain of someone who “talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk”? It makes you appear untrustworthy and nothing can be more detrimental to your business than that. This is why it’s important that the things your brand promises are things you can actually deliver on. Don’t choose values for your brand that you don’t subscribe to – it will make living them out impossible. Keep it simple, and then live it.
Building a Personal Brand
Use these five tips to build and maintain your personal brand:
- Think of yourself as a brand – you are one, on show all the time!
- Create your own brand promise and brand values. Live them every day.
- The way you dress, speak, present and represent yourself are your brand promise deliverables. Be constantly aware of them.
- Presentation is the frontline of a brand: your person, your documentation or any collateral associated with you. A brand leader is consistent and dependable.
- Deliver on the values you have created for your brand. Under-promise and over-deliver.