Building Blocks for Developing Your Personal Brand – Part 1



I have been approached by a number of people to give one on one coaching on developing their personal brands. While this is an area of development I am equipped to deliver and have a service offering for, I do not have enough time to devote to everyone requiring my individual attention. In order to ensure that we all benefit from projecting our personal brands, I am devoting today’s article to giving you a practical message on how to develop your brand.

Personal branding is one of my own messages that I want to create an impact with and ensure that the younger generation does not grope in the dark like many people in my generation have done. As we all know, the term has also become important in our technology and digital era.

Muneed Qadar Saddiqui in his piece, “Personal Branding the JAB that makes your completion irrelevant”, gave an illustration saying: “How does carrying an IPOD make you feel? How does Starbucks differentiate from your local coffee? How does flying on Virgin Airlines make you feel? These are not just brands, these companies started from the scratch and moved deeper into our lives with personal branding. What devoted us to these brands is their founders (and of course the products)”. Every brand be it, Apple, Virgin Airlines, Starbucks, GTBank, MTN, Dangote, etc started with the personal brand of the owner. I have mentioned this fact before in my other messages on personal branding.

Saddiqui went on to say that creating a personal brand is vital to the individual and the people around them. They are promising people that these are not just brands but a reflection of themselves with unique abilities and unique personalities which will be reflected in the products they manufacture or the services they provide.

There is no doubt that creating your personal brand equips you with the ability to out-compete, out-perform and manage your career! It enables you contribute to your career or business and expands your chances of success. It will give you personal contentment and you will become more fulfilled, influential, and indispensable professionally.

Developing your brand involves the following building blocks:
• Determine your top 5 values. What are those values that are very important to you. Your value system drives you and this is where your authenticity lies and all that is intrinsically you. In addition to your values, you also need to answer the question, “what is my vision and purpose?. Answers to these pertinent questions will start the journey. Many people are not self-aware and believe personal branding is all about brand communication, increased visibility and enhancing executive presence. While these attributes contribute, the internal reflection and introspection of your values, vision and purpose help you understand what truly motivates you.

• The second step is to find out how others see you. Finding out how you are perceived, will help you refine or reinforce your vision, values and purpose. This assessment is necessary to ensure you do not go in a direction that is completely opposite to the real you.

• Identify your goals and audience. In determining your goal you need to first answer whether it is to leave a legacy behind, take charge of your career or to have impact in a particular theme close to your heart. Answers to these will help shape the way you proactively manage your brand and the degree of effort you muster in presenting the intellectual and emotional assets to the people and allies that will help shape your brand.

Knowing your audience is the key as this will determine how you reach out to them and the mode of reach. If your intent is to boost your career, your audience is both internal and external. You will need to be exceptional in all you do from a professional standpoint and use your brand’s intent, aspirations and value to deliver on the corporate brand promise by being a visible leader with a stellar professional reputation outside of your organization. Internally, this same attributes will need to be showcased to your bosses, peers and subordinates. Showcasing your brand to your colleagues across the organisation increases your value within and makes you a role model for others to emulate.

• Pay attention to detail. How you dress will add or detract from your brand. The rule of thumb is to dress better than the norm at all times. Be the one who will be invited to follow the boss to important meetings because the boss is proud and comfortable with the way you look and would want to show you off. Or, be the one who turns heads for a positive and admirable reason when you enter a room.

Work on your grammar and diction. The negative perception of your grammar and diction will detract from your brand. This is also where etiquette comes in. Ensure you have impeccable manners and understand the appropriate etiquette for a given situation. Gaffes in this area are usually intolerable.
Your written messages should also be carefully vetted, to ensure that you are not endangering your brand. Check your grammar, proof read and spell check.

• Take inspiration from others worth emulating. Identify your role models and understand what they do and how they do them. The key here is not to copy blindly. But, to delve deeper at the innate reasons for their actions and to bring in your own authenticity. Authenticity is very important. If you copy blindly, you will end up appearing fake and lacking depth because you are not being true to yourself.

• Be memorable, don’t be like everybody. Embrace your quirks and be opinionated about the things you are passionate about. Have a succinct elevator pitch. Learn to introduce yourself not by title but by communicating your value or passion and modifying its relevance to each person you introduce yourself to. Strong brands know who they are and the value they want to create.
Hold on to these messages above and start to practice them. We will continue next week.

– Marie-Therese Phido is Sales & Market Strategist and Business Coach
tweeter handle @osat2012; TeL: 08090158156 (text only)