A brand can be anything, a single letter, a word, an idea, a symbol, a mix of colors, a sound, a name, a person. A brand can also be something that is not so clear and tangible, like respect and reputation. The latter may particularly relate to professionals, who aim to build a recognizable name for themselves in order to improve their career prospects and promote their skills.
If you feel you belong to this group, you need to understand the essences of brand building and the associated phases that translate into discovering, creating, and maintaining a successful personal brand.
1. Discovering who you really are
The first phase of creating a personal brand is discovering who you are underneath (all the other brands you are wearing). In order to do that, you need to try and strip yourself of all subjectivity, put your ego on hold, and make as realistic self-assessment as possible. The starting point of this process is indeed self-awareness. Even the ancient Chinese philosopher and poet, Lao Tze knew the importance of this:
At the center of your being you have the answer: you know who you are and you know what you want.
Try to delve into the deepest corners of your persona and uncover what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, and what truly motivates you to push forward. Put all these things on paper, connect the dots, and you’ll get the most honest picture of who you really are and which sides of you would help nudge your career in the right direction.
2. Having a clear Vision of what your future Brand should be
Once you have rediscovered yourself, you need to organize your thoughts, plans and skills to create a clear picture, a vision, of what your brand should represent and how it will separate you from everyone else on the market. Hell… the world. This phase is rather important as during this stage you need to realize what you can uniquely bring to the table and in what way your brand will stand out from the crowd. And the crowd is HUGE.
The other side of this coin is realizing how exactly you want to be perceived by others. Remember, you are merely a creator of your brand, it is up to the others to make it happen. You need to create your own vision, that vision needs to turn into a mission, and finally, with a little help from Lady Luck, that mission will turn into a successful brand.
Of course, you also need a well-organized plan. This is when you will want to think both big and small picture, so make sure you create a long-term vision but also develop those little steps which will help you get there. According to Neil Patel and Aaron Agius, the authors of The Complete Guide to Building your Personal Brand:
The foundation of personal branding rests on authenticity, the ability to tap into your genuine, humble, and individual human qualities from which your identity, personality, and character stem.
Wise words coming from wise men.
3. Go out there and stay Visible
The marketing phase of building your personal brand is crucial once its foundations have been set. Yet, maintaining a successful personal brand is perhaps even trickier and more difficult than creating one.
In order to stay in the spotlight you need to do everything in your power to increase your visibility in your given field. Make sure you continue to develop your brand by attending industry conferences and by participate in as many professional forums as you can. Grow. Start your own blog, choose a remarkable name for it and widen your professional network through writing articles or blogs about your skills and your expertise.
Remember, people come and go, but brands are here to stay.