Put a Brand on It.

We spend so much time focusing on clients and building our client’s brands that sometimes we fail to step back and take a look at our personal brand.  For some of us it is a difficult task to develop a brand that is truly our own.  Until one day you get asked the question “what is your personal brand?” and you find yourself lost for words.  That is your wake up call, when you realize you have worked so hard to get where you are in your career and current chapter in life but have little to say about your personal brand.  

Think about it.  What’s the impression you leave on others after they interact with you? That’s personal branding.  It’s no longer something that only identifies companies, celebrities or politicians.  Personal branding is why people want to work with you, hire you, hear your ideas and support you.  Think of it as your own trademark.  If you are not intentionally branding yourself the people around you are.  Taking control of your personal brand is the smartest way to secure your professional future and determine if, who you say you are, is really who you are.  Below are four areas to consider when creating a personal brand that distinguishes you from others and feels true to you.

Define Your Passion

What are the things that you enjoy doing but also make you shine.  Create your own elevator pitch and fine tune it.  Paint a picture that explains what you love and what you are good at and make this the foundational message you share with the world. That message needs to be clear and consistent. But most of all, authentic. It needs to be your own unique brand, of whatever it is, you are about. It is likely to change over time, but just start with something that feels right today and redefine as you go along.  While you are going through this thing called life you might as well be certain you are doing the things that bring you the most joy and if those things result in income, even better.

Share It

Oddly enough, it’s not all about you.  It’s about what you do to educate, inspire, and entertain your audience or market. By demonstrating your talent and expressing your passion with others you create an opportunity for your audience to provide feedback and reviews of what you excel at and also areas where you can improve and grow.  A lot of times you will find that suggestions from others can spark an entirely new idea for you, and lead to further success.  Not sure where you should be sharing your passion?  Start with your family, friends and coworkers.  After all, those are the people you see the most and more than likely feel the most comfortable opening up to.  Let them see how you can shine and they will voluntarily let you know others areas and people you should share your work with.

Practice

Some would say practice is common sense.  But for those that are creatures of habit you might be reluctant to practice your skills and have the mindset of it is not broke don’t fix.  Did you ever consider there are others out there that possess a similar talent and passion as you?  Maybe you should also consider that those people are likely more advanced in certain areas than you are.  Therefore, now is the time to practice, practice, practice!  You have to learn how to be competitive and enhance the skills that you already hone.  Think about it, professional athletes like LeBron James don’t get where they are today without practice.  They spend countless hours in the gym and on the court in efforts to become better and stronger than their competitors.  It’s up to you to choose how successful you are, you just have to dedicate time to growing and the success will follow.

Explore

Do your research.  Explore the world around you and discover what others are doing well and use that as a form of inspiration.  Spend an afternoon exploring different parts of your community.  Look at your surroundings with an open mind. Think about the things that people do well but also how could they do them better?  Go explore the downtown square, grocery store, ballpark, coffee shop or the cafeteria at work.  Exposing yourself to new surroundings and places can give you that innovative spark that you were searching for.  The world is constantly evolving which means you need to evolve with it.  It’s up to you to demonstrate a unique edge that others aren’t already putting out there.  Opportunities are everywhere, you just have to explore your world with an open mind and discover the options are endless.

As you develop and fine tune your personal brand remember to keep it authentic.  Focus on what you love, share it with others, practice and explore.  Many will spend their whole life and not know what they stand for.  I hope that is not you.  Understand how you impact others and what impression you leave on someone after interacting with them as this becomes your personal brand.  Remember if you develop a strong personal brand you are taking control of your future.  It is in your hands to determine what story that personal brand tells.  In the words of Bonnie Raitt, be sure you “give em something to talk about.”

Written by:  Crystal Wexler/Director of Brand Engagement & Operations