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How to Start Building Your Personal Brand

Blog | Life and Leadership   |   July 25, 2016

The term “Brand Personality” is often used in a branding project. Brands are personified because the reference to people makes it easier to understand how a brand can be multidimensional, have personality, attitude, voice. How a brand can come alive.

And now strangely, but understandably, people are being brandified. Thinking of a person’s identity as a brand makes it easier to grasp the idea of a unified, well-communicated image. And that is what we all want from personal branding. A well-communicated cohesive image that has impact and comes across as attractive and memorable, and useful enough to get oneself a job, a project contract, a stint, promotion, earn trust, and find the opportunity to bring value to the world.

So it follows: understanding the idea of branding a company makes it easier to grasp the process of branding oneself. The self-awareness needed, the clarity of focus and direction, and the ability to see oneself the way others would. And the skill to communicate all these confidently and professionally.

In building a commercial brand, it always starts with the organization and who they are—mission, vision, purpose. The why, the how, and the what (borrowing Simon Sinek’s hierarchy from Start With Why). The brand is created to accurately reflect that and not the other way around. Once you’ve defined what the organization is about, then comes crafting the elements that will communicate the brand. Among these are logo, corporate stationery, website; and even a style guide—how people should relate to others, speak, or even market the products.

In building your personal brand that’s where you can start as well: from the inside. (At this point, If you are not yet sure about your career path, it may be a good time to take a step back to Finding Your Niche.)

The journey takes time, the same way a corporate branding exercise does. If you are ready to get into it, we’ve come up with a simple outline, a starting point for you on your journey of Building Your Personal Brand.

C H A R A C T E R

This is where it begins—your heart,  your convictions, and your sense of purpose. As you brand, or re-brand yourself, ask yourself why you want to brand or re-brand yourself, and what your career means to you. What are your non-negotiables—things that are important for you and you won’t give up. For example, family, or perhaps work that is social in nature, or working with animals. This will guide you in making decisions later on. Renew your commitment to your values and purpose, and what matters most to you in life. Remind yourself of your dreams and goals. This will remind you to aim high and not settle. Set your priorities; this will prevent you from choosing one thing over the other just for convenience or just for money. The steps you take building your personal brand must all be aligned with who you are inside and what you’ve decided to devote yourself to. Once you get to later stages, or the prospect of different choices of jobs, sometimes your priorities and values may be challenged. It would be good to decide in advance what you will do in these situations, and how flexible you want to be, so you are not caught off-guard or doing something you will regret down the years.

C O M P E T E N C I E S 

You have a wealth of experience and abilities. And some experiences help define you, better than others. Focus on those that will align with what you want to be known for. For example, if you are joining a creative agency you may not need to communicate your summer job as a McDonald’s cashier. But you would want to share about that internship in which you conceptualized a video to campaign to help raise funds for an NGO. As you list down your experiences, highlight things you do excellently. And highlight the storyline of your career. People are more captivated by a story than a list of bullets.

C O M M U N I C A T I O N

Now here’s the fun part. Your communication pieces. Create or refine/revise your resume and portfolio, which is essentially your marketing material. Then your name card, as well as Linked-In profile, and website perhaps, if you are web-savvy or have a web designer friend who can create it for you. And one of the best exercises in branding yourself is crafting your elevator speech: how would you describe what you do to someone in 20-30 seconds. A compelling, easily understandable story you can tell from start to finish in one elevator ride. At the end of it, the other person should have a clear, memorable image of you.

C O N F I D E N C E

Now usually, when you have all your communication done—what happens? That’s right, you get nervous. You ask, is my elevator pitch solid enough? What you can do at this stage is practice. Practice with someone; do a mock-interview, take a fake elevator ride. As you talk about yourself, practice confidence with humility. Realize your value, and know where you are in relation to everyone else. Not boastful, but thankful for everything and everyone who contributed to your growth. You will only go further, higher, so be confident and excited for the journey ahead.

C O N N E C T I O N

“Research tells us that between 60-80% of jobs are found through personal relationships,” says John Bennett in this article. Before you get all nervous about meeting actual people, think first–what community would you enjoy being a part of? What kind of people do you dream of meeting. For example, the CEO of Ideo? The Minister of Education? Oprah? Get excited about meeting people who will fuel your creativity and passion. If there are certain people you dread meeting, perhaps you shouldn’t meet them! Find the community that energizes you and that you would want to partner with. If you are terrified of meeting people, you can also consider taking soft skills or core skills courses like Emotional Intelligence to help you become a people person. You can also take that course as a refresher on how to relate well with others.

What’s next?

After going through the above, you may want to pursue this further or find some guidance as you take action. ROHEI offers a course on Personal Branding, as well as one-on-one career coaching. ROHEI’s coaches have a wealth of experience in various industries and in life, whether you are a student or middle management, looking for a career change or unsure of your career path or how to begin; we can pick the right coach for you.

If you need that little push, we’re here to help! Follow the outline above and email your initial self-assessment and action plan to learning@rohei.com, and we’ll reply with some feedback and recommendations. All the best in your learning journey!

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