Stand out with a distinct personal brand

February 25, 2012

Business, Career and employment

What branding really means is your public perception.

by Laura Orsini — 

Whether you are an entrepreneur, job seeker or candidate for president of your HOA or PTA, you share one commonality: the need to differentiate yourself. In business parlance, this is often referred to as branding. People frequently confuse branding, particularly as it relates to businesses, with logos. While a logo is certainly an aspect of branding, the logo and brand recognition are only a small component of the totality of branding.

What branding really means is your public perception. When people think of your business — or of you — what is the first thing that comes to mind? It is probably not a logo, but perhaps your tagline or a personality trait. Dolly Kennedy of Dolly Steamboat fame, and self-defense guru, Mike Hayashi, are Phoenix-area businesspeople who have distinct personal brands.

When Dolly walks into any networking event in the Valley clad in her formal Victorian hat, dress and shoes and says, “Hello, everyone,” she immediately receives a robust “Helllllloooo, Dolly!” And most people who know Mike will never forget his ubiquitous tagline: A woman’s place is in control (accompanied by a nifty martial arts move).

Why is branding — particularly personal branding — important? Well, how badly do you want to stand out from the 2,000 other people applying for the same job or the 35,000 other realtors in your community? A personal brand is a statement about who you are, what you stand for, where your interests lie and what makes you different.

Ways to create/reinforce your brand

Résumé — If you do not have one, write one — even if you are an entrepreneur and never intend to apply for another job in your life. At some point, you will submit a speaker application or loan application, and you will need to list your skills, previous employers and accomplishments. A résumé is tailor-made for this sort of list.

Personal statement — Just like the résumé, if you do not have one, write one. This is a one- or two-sentence statement that explains your personal vision, mission and purpose. You must be able to succinctly explain to people who you are and what you stand for. This is not to be mistaken for your 30-second commercial, which everyone should also have prepared. This is less about what you do and more about who you are and why you do what you do.

Social media — Most of us are using at least one of the big social networks, and yet the vast majority of people have not fully completed their online profiles. Yes, privacy concerns are real, so be cautious about including your full birthdate and other identifying information — but you will receive a much greater return on your social media investment by providing a full profile.

Blog — According to marketing expert Seth Godin, “The word blog is irrelevant. What is important is that it is now common, and soon will be expected that every intelligent person (and quite a few unintelligent ones) will have a media platform where they share what they care about with the world.” This is a loaded statement — and one that impels you to blog if you want to stand out from the field. Blog about your industry, hobbies, what you want to learn and what interests you. Whatever the topic, be yourself and represent your brand honestly.

Video — Video is the new blogging. Flip cameras are inexpensive and easy to operate; so if possible, create a YouTube channel and start adding videos to your personal branding portfolio.

It definitely takes some effort, but creating a believable, reputable brand is essential if you want to be noticed in today’s overcrowded markets.

 

Laura Orsini is a writing, marketing and design consultant who works with speakers, authors and coaches. www.writemarketdesign.com or 602-518-5376.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2010.

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