Where is your personal branding taking you?

Saturday, March 26, 2016 - 17:21

If you have any experience in the marketing department, you'll probably be familiar with the challenge of building and sustaining a brand.

In 2016 though, branding isn't just for businesses. Now, it's personal.

What's your personal brand?

Personal branding has fast become a new topic, driven thanks to the rise of social media and professional networks like LinkedIn in particular. Through these new avenues, the ability to build your own reputation, and for other people to exchange information about you, have increased rapidly.

This was explored in research from California Polytechnic State University into what makes a successful personal brand. According to the university, most people already had an established personal brand, even if they had never given any thought to it themselves. However, failing to consider this aspect can actually damage your long-term career objectives.

Building a consistent personal brand

So, you've decided that it's time to take control of your personal brand and start getting it to work for you. How do you do that?

The first step is actually to go back and think about branding in general - start with a strategic assessment of what your personal brand currently looks like, and then where you want it to be.

The aforementioned report from California Polytechnic State University found there were three features of a successful personal brand:

  • Maintaining a consistent personal brand across every platform
  • Using published content to build a level of expertise
  • Developing a network of professionals that you can use to learn about changes in your sector

Establishing where your brand currently ranks begins by establishing what it constitutes so far. This will cover all of your social media presence as well as any other times where you have been in the public domain - such as in industry publications or on your company website.

Owned channels like LinkedIn and Facebook are among the most important here as you have direct control over what is published on them. LinkedIn's self-publishing Pulse platform also means you have an option to pursue that second major avenue of a personal brand from the California Polytechnic State University study.

Protecting your brand from reputational risks

While building your personal brand is important, it's equally valuable to protect the brand you are building from reputational damage.

When you were assessing your current reputation, you will have likely come across any major reputational risks that you might be associated with. A former employer that went bust or a negative personal reputation online will take time to work around and can have long-standing consequences for your personal branding.

It's important to have that core message but then experiment with different formats.

Even if you don't have existing threats to your reputation, make sure you are looking forward and thinking about where your personal brand is at risk. 

Keeping your brand refreshed

Think about the great corporate brands and what springs to mind? Coca-Cola, Apple and Nike have all had countless litres of ink spilt describing what makes these brands great.

However, if we borrow just one feature from them for your personal branding, the main takeaway is that these companies will retain a core image or brand message, while constantly finding new ways to express it.

For your personal brand, it's important to have that core message but then experiment with different formats to keep your personal brand fresh. If you are posting regularly on LinkedIn for example, consider expanding into a longer article for Pulse. Back this up by constantly updating your profiles with any management training, qualifications and any other new developments in your career. 

You don't have to hire a branding agency, or transform yourself overnight into a social media celebrity, just make sure you are putting that time into building out what you do.