You can find plenty of definitions of personal branding. Most of them will say that personal branding is about who you are, what you stand for, and what you have to offer. However, it doesn’t precisely clarify much, and only leaves most of us even more confused.
Marty Neumeier described a brand as a gut feeling about a product, service, or organization. Similarly, we could say that a personal brand is a gut feeling we have about another human being.
The people we surround ourselves with – our colleagues, employees, employers, clients, or potential clients – surely have a gut feeling about us. Now, how do we make sure they perceive us the way we want to? That’s the tricky part of personal branding. But it is even trickier to figure out exactly how we want to be perceived in the first place.
Therefore, building a strong personal brand begins with understanding yourself as a Character and what makes you a credible one. In other words, it’s all about proper positioning of oneself. Here, we get to another essential definition in the context of personal branding – personal positioning. It defines where you stand as a Character compared to other professionally related Characters in the marketplace as well as in the mind of your target Audience.
To make all this theory less complicated, let’s look at the main components of a personal positioning statement. Four of these are based on a regular positioning statement used to define a marketing strategy for a product or a company, while the fifth is unique to the positioning of a personal brand.
The key building blocks of personal positioning are:
Target audience. Who are the people you want to have a particular perception of you? Are these your potential or current clients, employers, employees, colleagues, or society at large?
Category reference. What do you stand for? What professional category do you consider yourself belonging to? What is the industry where you leverage your potential? What is the function you excel at?
Benefits. What do you have to offer? What are the benefits your target audience will get from you if they start working with you, reading your blog, or ordering your consulting services?
Reasons to believe. What are the reasons your audience should believe in what you promise to offer? What is your experience and expertise that makes you credible? What have you already done to prove you are the expert in the field?
Personal goal. What is the goal you are trying to achieve? This element is vital for measuring the results of your personal branding efforts later. You may want to divide your personal goals into offline and online ones. When it comes to offline, your personal goal might be getting a new job, lead or client, or getting an invitation to speak at a conference. Online goals might include increasing the base of your followers by a certain percentage or gaining more traffic to your website.
Answering the questions above should give you an overview of what your personal positioning is. If you can answer all the questions without wavering, you are already on the right path to move to the next stage of building a strong personal brand. Now, you can start picking the right channels and crafting relevant content that matches the needs of your target audience. If you had difficulties answering any of the questions above, dedicate some time to thinking about it before taking the next step of communication.
The secret of building a strong personal brand lies in understanding how you wish to be perceived. Once you figure that out, everything else will follow.
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