With the growth of online visibility and social media, people have gained popularity by becoming their own brand, without selling anything but their personality. A brand defined is ‘a unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, used to create an image that identifies a product […] this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the mind of the users of that brand’. It is this branding that draws people to pick what food they want to eat, what clothes they want to wear, what car they want to drive and so on, because that company has become a symbol that people respect.
Their symbol is their use of wit or storytelling abilities, and these have led them into careers that harness their strengths. Today almost every individual has a personal brand. Despite most of us not being social media personalities known to thousands, and whilst many of us haven't consciously cultivated these brands, but they exist nonetheless. And, if you're employed or are self-employed with clients, there's at least one person in particular who's already bought into your personal brand when they hired you or invested in you, or are using your business offer or skills.
The question is no longer if you have a personal brand, but if you choose to guide and cultivate your brand or to let it be defined on your behalf. This becomes especially important if you're going for an interview or meeting with important stakeholders, or if you're new on a team and need to establish yourself quickly in the company.
However, I’m taking a different approach to what many articles will advise you to do to ‘build your own brand’. They're too focused on you selling some sort of product to consumers or having a tangible portfolio, and the language could scare any aspiring badass to shy their talents away. What about if you're a badass who simply wants to be an employee working in a great company, or just be a badass human being who shows their true self through their ‘brand’ full stop?
Here are a few ways that I have personally done to start building 'Me', an awesome personal brand:
1. Consider how you present yourself.
Now this is not about how you look aesthetically, what make up you wear or any of that ‘How to Dress At Work’ bullshit. This is about how you present yourself to other people. It’s about your manners, your integrity and authenticity and speaking your truth. Personally I look quite boring in my work attire, but people feedback that I am always positive, a strong team player and reliable and trustworthy, which means people will then come to me again for future work. The presentation of who I am and my strengths mean I have a strong ‘customer base’.
2. Audit your online presence and declutter your feed.
Last year, I felt like all I saw on my social media feeds was negative crap. Which in turn would lead me to comment and react negatively too, feeding the cycle of crap further. This included virtual ‘friends’ whose lives involved a constant stream of whining and complaining about insignificant things. So I stopped one day, unfriended a bunch of people, unfollowed those depressing pages, and started following pages which would fill my feed with my interests and stories that would brighten my day. Not only was I affected in a positive way, but when I shared those stories, people would see them too, and then comment that they enjoy seeing what I'd share (even if there is an odd cat video in there somewhere). I became ‘branded’ as someone who fills their feed with joy.
3. What is your value?
This is a simple one: what talents or traits do you have that other people or your employer will appreciate about you the most? Could it be your ability to be honest about taboo subjects or be vocal about problems in order to fix them? Could it be your organisation skills and your natural charm with speaking to people? Do you give great advice and have a certain knowledge pool or skillset? Your value is what ‘sells’ you.
4. Associate with other ‘strong' brands.
A strong personal brand is dependent on a strong narrative. What’s your story? How does that story feature other people in your life that have influenced who you are now and your ‘brand’? I learnt a long time ago that you HAVE to have a strong support network around you who know who you are and what you want to achieve. Those people, your family, friends and fellow work colleagues, are your other ‘strong' brands. Like how companies will work together to release a new product or be partners for a common deliverable to their users. They say you become a combination of the five people you spend the most time with. So are they positive people who raise you up, or negative people that drag you down? Your support network is the foundation for your ‘brand’.
If you wish to, reinvent how you want your ‘brand’ to be perceived by others. We as people are constantly changing, and despite what some say, you are allowed to change parts of yourself that don’t fit with who you are anymore. Trust me, I have had a lot of rebrands over the years. Perhaps now it’s time for your badass brand to shine through.