Brands are compelling things and they can make the difference between whether we buy into something or not. It's true of people as much as products, so how will you build your personal brand?
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We are exposed to brands all the time, some of them powerful and others not so. We all know how strong the allure of a powerful brand can be, whether it’s a pop band using their success to sell merchandise, or a logo that we come to identify with certain feelings or times in our life.
Sometimes it may be the values of the brand that secure a strong following and make people want to be part of it, or the service they provide. Brands are everywhere, and a strong brand can be incredibly influential.
Just as companies and celebrities use their own brands to set themselves apart from their competitors, SME owners can use this process to build up their personal profile.
Rather than profiling yourself as simply an entrepreneur or founder of a business, creating your own brand could help you secure new business and create a synergy between your values and those your business centres around.
Leading, innovative businesses are often led by persuasive, influential people (Richard Branson, Tim Cook, Warren Buffet), highlighting that how you come across to others really matters and can influence your business’ success.
Richard Branson's got the personal brand thing sorted
Developing a personal brand will also help you position yourself to those around you. Ensure you remain professional throughout your everyday activities, such as managing your team or more specifically running client and new business meetings.
Positioning yourself correctly will rely upon various criteria, such as your appearance, your behaviour and interaction or your time management. How you market yourself could make or break your success and ultimately impact on your team’s values.
But how do you go about harnessing this potential and developing your own brand? Let’s face it, as a start-up leader, you’re time pressed and often the priorities of your business come before your own (holidays, social arrangements etc).
Therefore, sitting down and working out what you stand for may sound like something to put at the bottom of your to-do list. However, it doesn’t have to be a long and laborious process, the tips below can help shape how you present yourself.
1. Think about your personal values – be mindful of the personal values, strengths and the skills you are respected for, or rather want to be known for. This can help you work out how you will stand out from those around you, and develop and shape your brand further.
2. Work out where you want to go – do you know what you want to achieve in your career? You’ve set up your own business, but do your entrepreneurial aspirations end there? Once you’ve thought about what you’re working towards, think about how your brand could help you achieve this goal.
Everyone has their own idea of what success looks like
Make sure that the people you hire and businesses you work with match your values and will help you achieve your goals. Ensuring they do will help you to stay engaged while you work towards a shared goal
3. Work out who you need around you to complement your skill set – what is important to you when it comes to your interactions. Is it loyalty, diligence or companionship? Identifying what drives you will help you recognise what will make you happy, and this will have a knock on effect on your productivity as a business.
Complementary skills allows your business more balance, and can enable you to take on a wider range of work, exposing you to more contacts
4. Be consistent – once you’ve worked out your values, make sure you implement them consistently. Over time, this will become natural. Think how frustrating it could be if a brand you trusted changed its direction, and apply this mindset to your own brand
5. Set a timeframe – working out what you want to achieve and by when gives you a sense of purpose and a tangible target to work towards. Set yourself goals for each 6 months (or break them down into 3 month objectives if this is more manageable), and then sit down and review what you’ve achieved and how you could have improved
6. Get going! – once you’ve worked out what you’re going to do, start implementing your decision in your working life. Setting measurable objectives will help this process. You can’t change overnight, but making small steps will help you on your way
Setting yourself apart is challenging, at work and in your social life. Therefore, anything you can do to show your unique selling point from your competitors will stand you in good stead.