Sales, Marketing and Communication

What is a personal brand and why do you need one

Personal branding is not a new phenomenon. The term became popular back in the 1990’s and it's widely acknowledged that it's important how you appear. Especially on social media. Nevertheless, only few professionals work deliberately on their personal brand. And that is a shame, because you already have a brand. Regardless if you have worked deliberately on it or not, an image of you exists “out there”.

If you do not believe me, try googling yourself.

If you have a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profile, these name is likely to appear on the first page.

This is your personal brand.

If you are listed in the phonebook, if you've been mentioned in the local newspaper or on your company’s website, this is also part of your brand.

But what if you are unsatisfied with the result of your google search? Perhaps it's the wrong things that appear, perhaps it shows too little or too much?

If you are dissatisfied, take control over which brand people meet when they google your name.

What is personal branding?
As mentioned it's nearly 20 years ago personal branding became popular as a phenomenon. This happened in an article Tom Peters wrote for Fast Company: “The Brand Called You”.

Among other things, Peters write that: “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you.”

Even though Peters wrote his article almost 20 years ago, it's perhaps even more relevant today. The many different social networks give everyone the opportunity to tell a coherent story about themselves. And headhunters, possible employers and customers regularly check out business partners’ profiles before establishing contact.

If you want to brand yourself, you must:

1. Find out which image you want to emit
This could be done by considering what it is you do, that makes you different (your most important professional and personal competences).

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Which of your qualities separate you from your colleagues and competitors?

  • What have you done the past week that separates you from everybody else?

  • Which personal feature would your colleagues or customers highlight as your greatest strength?

  • Which advantages does this provide (to your customers, colleagues, future employers)? Are you always completing your assignments on time? Do you always stay within budget? Can you predict and solve problems before they turn into crisis?

  • What have I done that is worth bragging about?

2. Market yourself
Peters mentions things such as teaching or speaking at conferences. However, these days it is probably more obvious that you address your digital presence:

  • Update your profiles on different social media on which you are present. In relation to business it is obvious to observe your LinkedIn profile. Does it reflect the image you have previously located?

  • Make sure that your brand is coherent across platforms.

  • Support all statements with objective proof. For instance, add numbers to your successes.