Last week, we addressed the importance of launching a personal brand, and this week, we take the first step: Identify it!
Figuring how what your brand is takes brainstorming, beta testing, and tweaking. It’s not something you can come up with on a whim. Your personal brand will set the tone for future career trajectory, so it’s crucial to take the time to get it right.
Start with brainstorming. In a journal or on a notepad (I’m a big advocate for carrying a journal wherever you go, you never know when a great idea is going to hit you), answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- What sets you apart from others in your field?
- What are you passionate about?
- What is your worldview?
- What’s your philosophy?
- How do you want people to see you?
- What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
It’s crucial to answer these questions thoroughly and honestly. Not everything will find its way into your personal brand, in fact, you don’t want your personal brand to include everything. You may be a mother of 3 or spend your weekends fly fishing, but that doesn’t mean you have to integrate those characteristics into your personal brand. Writing everything down will allow you to see the bigger picture and handpick which elements will come together to form your personal brand.
I learn by example, so here’s an example of my branding worksheet:
- Book publicist, small business owner, speaker, teacher, mother, Millennial, triathlete
- I’m the owner of Kaye Publicity, a social media pro, brand consultant, and author
- I stay on top of the trends and am able to come up with unique marketing campaigns to expand our clients’ audiences. I tend to work outside corporate conventions and never rely on the way things have always been done.
- Increasing readership for amazing books, building a literary community, finding new ways to build connections, helping others understand social media and digital marketing techniques
- I believe that high tides raise all boats. The more knowledge people obtain, the savvier they get, the better it is for all of us.
- “Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury
- As an innovative, hard-working, smart, creative individual
- Continue growing Kaye Publicity with quality clients that write great books and grow Branding Outside the Box into a vibrant, engaged community
The next step is to come up with a brand summary that encompasses the elements of who you are that you hope to convey. Don’t worry about encompassing every aspect of who you are and what you do. Focus on the highlights. The brand summary is something you could easily memorize and deliver as an elevator pitch.
I’m a book publicist with a knack for staying ahead of the trends and I believe there’s no substitute for hard work, creativity, and a whole lotta chutzpah. I’m passionate about books, spreading a love of reading, and educating authors on best publishing practices. I frequently jump off cliffs and build my wings on the way down.
This brand summary conveys many aspects of my brand without explicitly outlining them. For example, I don’t have to say that I’m a risk taker or constantly try new things. The Ray Bradbury quote conveys those aspects of my brand simply and effectively. You get a sense of my personality and what I’m passionate about in a very short amount of time.
Your brand summary should convey a feeling or idea of who you are and what you’re about. When you think of Lexus, you don’t automatically think of all the various makes, models and colors they sell. When you think Lexus, you think luxury. You associate Gatorade with hydration and athletic performance. What do people associate with you?
Most of you won’t share this personal brand summary with anyone. It won’t go on your website or business cards. Like a company mission statement, your personal brand summary is meant for you, and should inform everything you do. Not sure if something is on brand? Refer back to your brand summary and see. It should inform everything you do.
Next week, we move on to step 2: establishing your personal brand. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to share your brand summaries in the comments section!