Many of you have probably heard of the term “personal brand”. This term has long been confined to the business setting, however over the last several years, more and more individuals are starting to take notice and wonder, “What is my personal brand?” Consciously or not, we all have attributes that others recognize, relate to, and associate us with.
When do you think of the company Target what comes to mind? The color red and the bullseye are probably some of the top answers. But what about the Target experience? Some say the store is comforting, maybe even stylish? That is a personal brand.
When others think of you, what do they think? If you were to poll 25 people you personally know, what would they say about you? Would they say you are kind? Punctual? Stylish? Maybe a little bit extra? Of those responses, however, defined, are there some you wouldn’t be happy with? Would somebody call you harsh? Quick to react? Hot-headed?
Whatever the answer, you get to define that because if you don’t define your personal brand for yourself, then it will certainly be defined for you by others.
What is your current brand?
When your name is brought up in conversation, how do you want to be perceived? What do you want to be associated with? For every individual, this answer will vary vastly. The amazing thing about a personal brand is that it is always evolving and changing as we personally grow and change.
First, to define your brand, take a look at yourself in the mirror. Pay attention to how you carry yourself. Are your shoulders straight and is your head held high or are you the type that hangs in the background, not wanting to be noticed? Do you dress for the occasion or do you wear the same shorts and flip-flops to every event? Begin paying attention to how you carry yourself.
Second, ask your closest family and friends to describe you in 5 words and take stock. Do you like what they say? Are there any words that made you uncomfortable or that you disagreed with? Do the words others associate with you align with the 5 words you would personally use to describe yourself? Now, do your best to not get frustrated with any answers you may or may not like. This activity is a great way to get constructive feedback on your personal brand, and a tool for you to use while developing the “brand” you want to be known for. This leads me to step number three… Identity.
Now that you’ve begun noticing how you carry yourself, took a survey of those close to you, now is the time to identify how you want to identify your personal brand, how you want others to associate with you, and how you want to present yourself. This step leans a little bit more into the physical. It doesn’t have anything to do with beauty but has everything to do with how to put together you are. Is your hair disheveled are your clothes need an iron but you are trying to lead a team? Do those two align?
These three exercises will give you a better idea of your personal brand and help you identify the steps to take to cultivate the brand that you truly want to represent.
How do you change your brand?
To begin changing your brand you will want to identify the words that you want to be associated with. Kind, patient, loving, smart, helpful, stylish, fun, zany are just a few examples of the words that I personally want to be associated with. Once you have a few identified, how can you begin to associate yourself with those words?
The first step is the physical. Yes, diet and exercise are going to play a huge role – I am not suggesting you lose 30 lbs., just that you begin to recognize your body, how you feel, and make changes to start feeling a little bit better. Many people will opt for a minor or major makeover at this stage. It can be as simple as a hair-cut or as drastic as a complete makeover that gives you a fresh, updated look. Change, big or small, is important in building your personal brand.
Second, dress for your brand. I do not believe you need to go out and purchase an entirely new wardrobe (unless you want to). Though, you will want to evaluate the clothing you own and determine if the fits, styles, and colors fit the brand you want to put forward. A simple wardrobe audit, wardrobe cleaning, and a good ironing day can take something drab and become fab very quickly. I find that this is the step that many people get caught up on because everyone thinks you need a drastic change and I am here to tell you that you don’t.
- Many of my clients come to me at this stage. In most cases, I find that they already have great pieces to work with, and in fact, we don’t need to purchase much. Just a few new (or used) pieces that fit your current wardrobe but play into the words and personal brand you want to be associated with; plus, treating yourself to something new can help you cultivate an attitude of change and be a positive experience to get you excited and keep you motivated.
The final step and, in my opinion, the hardest step of creating your personal brand is to evaluate your attitude and character. Do the words you selected to be associated with aligning with who you are now? If not, that is okay but you may want to begin identifying areas of your attitude you would like to change to begin to align with your new personal brand.
For example, are you quick to react but you want your personal brand to be associated with patience? Then you’ll want to start to practice staying calm, reacting coolly, and taking a beat when you feel you might get heated.
Personal Brands Will Evolve
Creating your personal brand will not happen overnight. In fact, we hear stories all the time of people who continue to reinvent themselves. This process can be as slow or as quick as you want it to take. Just don’t forget to be honest with yourself and genuine with others as you cultivate your personal brand.