By Liezel van der Westhuizen
As trends change and evolve in the job market, it’s becoming more important than ever that you stand out against the competition in that important interview or when launching your business into the marketplace. To do this, it helps to define and then showcase your own authentic brand.
Personal branding is the act of marketing yourself and what you do as a brand or concept. While this may sound straightforward, a brand is tough to define. Even David Ogilvy, who is know as the “father of advertising”, described it as “the intangible sum of a person’s attributes”. An interesting article on Emotive Brand refers to author and speaker Marty Neumeier’s definition: “it is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, person or organisation”.
And this is perhaps the gist of what we must strive for when bringing a personal brand to fruition. It’s not all about the rational, logical reasons for liking a product or person; it’s more about how that product or person makes us feel. This is important because although feelings are complicated, when your personal brand infuses positive inpiration into the lives of others, they’ll most likely be coming back for more of whatever you’re offering. That Maya Angelou quote about how people “forget what you said, forget what you did, but never forget how you made them feel” rings true here.
So, once you’ve gotten your head around what a personal brand is and are settng out on the exciting journey of creating your very own one, it is a good idea to think about what attracts you to other people and their personal brands (list and analyse the attributes of a few celebrities or influencers whom you follow on social media, for example). Also, think about what your family and close friends would say about you if they were asked to describe you in 100 words.
Next up, that magic essence that sums you up needs to relate to the products or services you’re bringing to consumers. So research successful examples in your niche and then tell your story, on your blog, website and social media profiles. People like authenticity; don’t be scared to talk about the hurdles you’ve traversed with wit and humour.
And if you get stuck, chat casually to a friend or colleague – even schedule a more formal session with a personal brand coach. These chats will help you catch on to a few of the golden nuggets of personal branding, from focus, consistency and storytelling, to authenticity and learning from failure, having an upbeat and inspirational attitude, and living your brand each step of the way going forward.