Personal branding takes time, hard work, resilience, character and belief in self.
By WANJIRU KANG’ARA
“This is a very complicated world; it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.” These are succinct words spoken by Steve Jobs to the Apple team. He was talking about the company’s brand marketing “Think Different” campaign, but in essence, he defined branding. Steve Jobs is a super brand, who like other global personal brands, lived ahead of his time. Coincidentally, he honoured these greats in the “Think Different” campaign.
Personal branding is essential in today’s work place. The job market is crowded with qualified, skilled and experienced professionals. So, how does a professional stand out from the crowd?
Here are nine tips to help you build your personal brand
1. Know yourself
This will help you build a brand that you will resonate with. Identify your personality type and the values you stand by. Reflect on your actions and decisions in the recent past. What do you value most in life? What is important to you in the short and long term? Pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. Capitalise on the former and address the latter. If in doubt, take a personality test. Read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, a profound book authored by Susan Cain. It contains invaluable insights on personality types. A strength-profiling test would also add value. As Stephen Covey says, “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood,” then define and start building your brand.
2. Be authentic
Fake products are produced with the intention of taking advantage of superior original products. Fakes are cheap and don’t last. Build a genuine brand that will resonate with the market place. Authentic brands last and they fetch premium value.
3. Be unique
Distinctness means you are different from the crowd. Uniqueness is scarce and is easily noticed. Being different will give you value because uniqueness is not found everywhere.
4. Be valuable
In doing so, project that which is positive and add value to the world. In a 2017 research carried out by Meaningful Brands, 75 per cent of the more than 300,000 people interviewed expect brands to make more contribution to their wellbeing and quality of life. Yet, only 40 per cent believe brands are doing so. People wouldn’t care if 74 per cent of the brands they use just disappeared. Be a meaningful brand, and the world will remember you. Like product brands, personal brands must be valuable. In 2009, after news broke that Jobs health was failing, the company’s stock fell. Be as valuable as Steve Jobs.
Notably, prior to his exit from Apple in 1985, Steve Jobs was described by some of the company’s executives as “uncontrollable” and a “zealot” – damaging words which could destroy a personal brand in a second. In his absence, the company made losses and Windows 95 was on everybody’s mouth. Smelling doom, Apple’s board decided the “zealot” was just what it needed. Jobs was an invaluable asset and he rejoined the company in 1997 to ignite a global revolution. That is Steve Job’s turbulent journey as he built his personal brand, which is best described by the slogan “Think different”. Personal branding takes time, hard work, resilience, character and belief in self.
5. Be visible
Share your brand with the world. Let the world know who you are through various avenues. Online platforms like LinkedIn will enhance your personal brand. Blogging on subject matters that relate to your profession will give you an edge. Own a website and use social media to boost your brand. Remember that intelligent content will be your selling point.
6. Be consistent, constant and clear
Front the same values, image and character through and through. In the long run your brand will be believable. When Nike entered the shoe market, they used the Swoosh alongside the slogan “Just do it”. They have since dropped the slogan. Their customers spot the Swoosh and know that is Nike. The Swoosh is a lifestyle, not a slogan.
7. Create brand awareness
This is achievable through networking. Join professional bodies to connect with the industry. Publish articles in the industry magazine and share them on social media. Give opinions in leading newspapers and publish papers in recognized journals.
8. Develop a selling proposition
In as far as nation brands are concerned, Japan is known for technology while the strength of Brand Germany is in its manufacturing prowess. The German industry is known for its efficiency and reliability. In personal branding, the goal is to differentiate yourself from others. What skills and qualities set you apart from others? What perceptions do people have about you? What tag line describes you?
9. Deliver your brand promise
With no shadow of a doubt, Apple can proudly say that they “think different”. Customers experience the Apple brand promise through their unique distinct products. They include Apple Watch, Apple Pay, Apple Pencil, iPad and Siri. Ensure you deliver your personal brand promise to the world.
Remember, the first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell. In the words of Confucius “the will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” As ZigZiglar said “you were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.
Wanjiru Kang’ara is a communications specialist, trainer and writer, highly skilled in brand management, public relations and customer management