Personal branding is absolutely essential today. Research has shown repeatedly that the first place potential employers look to learn about you (after reading your resume) is the internet. Your profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and so on all offer a glimpse into who you are as an employee and where you’re heading in your career. With that in mind, you need to be sure that your online persona is branded appropriately to help you reach your goals.
Branding yourself is just like branding a product line or business. The same principles that marketers use to create brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Honda apply to personal branding. Consider women like Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. They have defined their personal brands and created their own brand images, messages, and promises. In addition, they continually meet their audiences’ expectations related to their personal brands.
By branding yourself, perceptions are created about who you are and what you can do. Just as people have expectations for Oprah Winfrey’s behavior and business decisions, your colleagues, peers, superiors, clients, and potential employers will develop expectations for you based on the personal brand that you define and live by.
3 Steps to Brand Building
Following are the three critical steps of building a brand that you should keep in mind as you develop your own unique persona that will be the foundation of your personal brand:
Once you determine what your brand image, message, and promise should be, you must consistently present yourself in the same way through every interaction, communication, and so on. Inconsistency leads to confusion. When you’re trying to build a career, consistency is essential.
You need to relentlessly communicate your personal brand message, so it becomes the cornerstone of your online persona. Understand that building a brand takes time. It’s a long term strategy that can help you establish yourself in the image and niche you wish to carve out for yourself throughout your career. Be patient and persistent, and your personal brand will grow in the right ways to help you reach your goals.
It can be tempting to jump at any opportunity to grow your brand and extend your reach, but be careful. If an opportunity doesn’t align with your brand’s promise and your audience’s expectation for it, they’ll become confused and turn away from your brand in search of one that does meet their expectations in every interaction. Brand confusion is the number one brand killer, so exercise restraint and only pursue opportunities that support your brand promise.
Your Next Steps to Create Your Personal Brand
We live in a time when anyone can leverage the internet and social media to build their personal brands. Start by creating a website if you don’t already have one. Write a blog that consistently and persistently communicates your brand promise and develops perceptions and expectations for your brand among your target audience. Do the same thing on social media sites, particularly LinkedIn, which is the primary site used among professionals, job seekers, recruiters, and employers.
Next, create branded LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other appropriate social media profiles, and start publishing content, sharing content, and engaging with other people in ways that support your brand promise. In time, your brand’s reach will grow, more people will become aware of your personal brand, and your authority will grow, too. This type of social proof is essential in today’s world where online communication, research, and information-sharing is the norm.
Originally published March 11, 2010. Updated April 21, 2018.