Strategic Principles of PERSONAL BRANDING: Before you start promoting your Personal Brand, you need to articulate what it is! Learn the 3 strategic principles of Personal Branding, plus the most common mistake that people make when crafting their Personal Brand.
What is a personal brand?
- Your identity or your reputation – “what people say and think about you when you’re not in the room”
- Both your personal and professional We filter what we share in each situation depending on the context and the audience.
- We can do things to strategically manage our personal brand, just like a brand manager manages a product brand.
STRATEGIC PRINCIPLE #1: FOCUS ON WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE
- Can you guess what the most common mistake is that people make with their Personal Brand? It’s copying someone else. It’s a common trap.
- “Unique is better than better.“ Focus on your outlier Lean in to your unique superpower.
- Marketers know that their brand can’t be “all things to all people.” They write a clear, focused brand positioning statement to articulate the unique brand benefit and position the brand relative to their competition.
- LEAN IN TO YOUR SUPERPOWER. Ask yourself this simple Q: What makes me unique? Then focus on that one thing. Be as specific and focused as possible. The benefit here is that a unique and focused brand is easier to understand and also more memorable.
- Two examples:
- Sephora is one of the only cosmetics retail chains. They offer a huge section of higher-end cosmetics, and importantly, they provide well trained experts to help you find exactly what works best for you.
- Anyone who’s been to a Trader Joes grocery store knows it’s a unique brand. Trader Joes is ethical and international., and I’d say it’s also irreverent. Definitely not typical.
image: unsplash @ brett jordan
STRATEGIC PRINCIPLE #2: INTEGRATION & CONSISTENCY
- Seek to consistently communicate the same brand through every touch point you have with others.
- Explicit communication: the words you use, how you introduce yourself, your bio, your LinkedIn page
- Implicit communication reinforces your Personal Brand through everything you say and write and do (with your body language, through the way you dress, through the associations you establish with people and institutions, with the media through which you communicate).
- As you consistently integrate and reinforce your personal brand, you’ll come across as genuine and authentic.
STRATEGIC PRINCIPLE #3:
PERSONAL BRANDS EVOLVE OVER TIME
- As humans we mature, we evolve. Similarly, the world changes, the marketplace evolves, our competitors change, our clients and customers change. By definition, if we don’t also evolve, we become irrelevant. That goes for both humans and for brands.
- NOTE: Principle two is integration and consistency. Principle 3 is evolution. Isn’t that a contradiction? Successful brands stay true to their core values and benefits. But they also stay current and relevant. Just like we all should with our personal brands!
- EXAMPLE: NETFLIX – In the 1990s Netflix was a rent-by-mail DVD platform, then a subscription service and now a leader in entertainment production and distribution.
PRINCIPLES OF PERSONAL BRANDING RESOURCES
- #77 PERSONAL BRANDING: Reinforcing your Personal Brand with Implicit Communication
- #71 PERSONAL BRANDING, AUTHENTICITY & TMI with Tom Megginson
- #68 Communicating Your PERSONAL BRAND ONLINE
- #9 RE-IMAGINING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND – with CEO & team performance expert Michael Boydell
- 10 Steps to update your personal brand online
- Developing Your Personal Brand
- ONLINE Personal Brand
- Personal Branding: Navigating the Authenticity-TMI Tension
- 5 Insights to Strengthen Your PERSONAL BRAND
- Reinforcing your Personal Brand with Implicit Communication
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki & Talk About Talk
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PRINCIPLES OF PERSONAL BRANDING. You may have noticed a lot of talk about this topic lately. Not just on this podcast, but in general in the marketplace. Business and self-help writers at Forbes, FastCompany, Inc magazine and other outlets are focusing on the topic, and MBA programs are now including PERSONAL BRANDING as part of their curriculum.
PERSONAL BRANDing is one of my favourite topics, and I always look through what’s being written and taught about the topic. There’s one thing that always stands out for me – and that’s the disproportionate focus on PROMOTING our PERSONAL BRANDs.
I take a different approach. Well before we focus on promoting your PERSONAL BRAND, I advocate a strategic approach to identifying precisely what your PERSONAL BRAND is. How to say it. How to articulate it. This process is much more strategic. And I’d say, much more effective.
Today, here in the episode, we’re going to focus on the 3 strategic principles of Personal Branding.
Greetings and welcome to Talk About Talk. I’m your communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!).
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Welcome to Talk About Talk episode number 84! In this episode, we take a step back and focus on 3 strategic principles of PERSONAL BRANDing. This episode will help you in terms of your PERSONAL BRANDing mindset and assumptions. Based on my background in Brand Marketing, I’ve identified three principles or tenets from brand marketing that are not just relevant to principles of PERSONAL BRANDing, but they’re valuable in terms of providing fundamental guiding principles for articulating our personal brand.
For each of these three principles, I’ll explain exactly what they mean (I’ll define them), then I’ll provide you with examples of product brands that have leveraged this branding principle. I’ll also share human, personal branding examples from people whom I’ve coached or observed. Sound good?
OK – let’s get into this. As always, you don’t need to take notes, because I do that for you. I summarize everything for you at the end of the episode. And you can always access the printable episode shownotes on the talkabouttalk.com website. I continue to receive positive feedback about the summaries I provide in the podcast itself and in the shownotes on the website, so of course I’m going to keep providing them. That way, you can keep doing whatever you’re doing – driving or walking or housework, or whatever. You don’t have to take notes because I do that for you.
Alright. 3 strategic principles of personal branding. First, a brief introduction to PERSONAL BRAND’g. Different books and articles and courses make different assumptions about PERSONAL BRANDg. So, I want to start by being perfectly clear about what we’re talking about.
What is a personal brand? If you’re thinking about your identity or your reputation, then you’re right. But the definition that seems to get a lot of traction is that your PERSONAL BRAND is what people say and think about you when you’re not in the room. Imagine your name comes up in a meeting. What are people thinking and saying about you? THAT is your PERSONAL BRAND.
We’re talking about both your personal and professional identity here. That helps a lot with authenticity. I don’t mean to say that you share every element of your personal life at work, just like you wouldn’t share every aspect of your career and professional life when you’re at home or out with friends. We filter what we share in each situation depending on the context and the audience. Of course.
And our personal brand can and should change over time. As the world changes and as we mature, of course we change.
And we can do things to manage our personal brand, just like a brand manager manages a product brand. It’s not that you’re being manipulative, but rather that you’re being strategic. And hopefully you’ve considered the 3 principles of PERSONAL BRANDg that I’m going to share with you right now. Are you ready?
FOCUS ON WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE
The key word here is unique. If you get just one thing from this episode, I hope it’s that. You want to be unique.
If you ever working in brand management, and even if you didn’t, you’ve probably heard the saying “You can’t be all things to all people. Your brand can’t be everything to everyone. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll end up being – nothing.” Well, guess what? The same goes for your PERSONAL BRAND.
So, in other words, for brands – both product brands and PBs – it’s better to be unique and focused as opposed to the same as everyone else or trying to be all things.
The best brands have a focused and unique point of difference. We’re talking about focusing on outlier qualities.
As marketers one of the most important branding frameworks we use is a clear, focused brand positioning statement. The idea w a brand positioning statement is that you’re positioning yourself relative to your competition. Identifying what makes the brand stand out. Articulating the unique brand benefit.
Similarly, when you’re thinking about your PERSONAL BRAND, I always recommend that you focus first and foremost on what makes you UNIQUE.
When I do principles of personal branding workshops, I like to share this little saying “Unique is better than better. Think about that. It’s not quite intuitive. “Unique is better than better.”
Can you guess what the most common mistake is that people make with their PERSONAL BRAND? It’s emulating or copying someone else. It’s a common trap, but it’s easy to see why!
Imagine your colleague gets promoted. You look at them and you try to figure out what got them promoted. Was it their work ethic? Their communication skills? Their relationship building? Whatever it is, it’s human nature to emulate.
Instead, I’d suggest that you LEAN IN TO YOUR SUPERPOWER. Ask yourself this simple Q: What makes me UNIQUE ? Then FOCUS on that one thing. Be as specific and focused as possible. The benefit here is that a unique and focused brand is easier to understand and also more memorable.
It might help us here to think about Product Brands that’ve done this well. What brands stand out as unique and focused? in the retail space, I think about Sephora and Trader Joes. Sephora is one of the only cosmetics retail chains. They offer a huge section of higher-end cosmetics, and importantly, they provide well trained experts to help you find exactly what works best for you. The other example is Trader Joes. Anyone who’s been to a Trader Joes grocery store knows it’s a unique brand. Trader Joes is ethical and international., and I’d say it’s also irreverent. Definitely not typical.
When I tried to think of product brands that messed up in terms of not being unique and focused, well, I couldn’t think of any. I could try to give you an example here, but we don’t hear about these brands. That’s kind of the point!
In terms of a personal brand that successfully leveraged this principle of being unique and focused, you could think of just about any media personality. Especially those who have sustained their appeal. Like say Oprah. Or Anderson Cooper. These are unique folks with clearly focused and differentiated brand personalities.
A few months ago, when I was running a principles of PERSONAL BRANDing workshop for global executives, a partner at a professional services firm shared that she has a sense of humour but that she tries to hide it. I asked her if her boss knows she’s funny? She said yes. I asked her if her clients appreciate her sense of humour. Again, she said, probably yes. So, while she clearly needs to be professionally and provide technical expertise to her clients, sometimes a sense of humour is a good thing. And funny people are usually very clever. I encouraged her to lean into her sense of humour. This is what makes her unique. You know what happened? She ended up emailing me and thanking me profusely. She now empowered to leverage her unique personality, instead of hiding it.
Ask yourself: what makes you stand out? Is there a part of your personality that might not conform to the norm? I encourage you to lean into that.
So that’s the 1st principle of PERSONAL BRAND: focus on what makes you unique.
INTEGRATED & CONSISTENT
Product brands that consistently communicate the same message are more successful for a few reasons. First, it takes us all awhile to notice or to learn things. When we see or hear the same message over and over, it starts to sink in. Secondly, when messages are consistent, they are more credible. And if their inconsistent, we might lose trust. Successful brands consistently reinforce their message.
When I worked in brand management, this tenet was something that I focused on intensely. We need to use the same words, but we also need to make sure that the packaging, and the fonts and the colours and the imagery, not to mention that cast for the ads, – everything – is consistent and integrated with the brand’s main message.
Of course, this includes both explicit and implicit communication, so explicit communication is the words. And implicit communication is all of the indirect ways that a brand can communicate.
Brand examples did it well: Coca Cola. Think about the logo, the colours, the bottle, the sound of a bottle being opened, the smiles on the wholesome folks drinking it, Absolutely every element of the Coca-Cola brands communication is consistently. Reinforcing the same message of this refreshing, sincere, and joyful drink.
There are also lots and lots of examples of brands that have messed up in terms of their . Consistency and integration. Take for example in 1996 when. McDonald’s tried to upscale its offering by introducing a grown-up burger – the ”Arch Delux”. It turns out adults who go to McDonalds just want a McDonalds burger. Who knew? Well, actually, we all knew that. A sophisticated adult burger is not consistent with the brand. And it flopped.
Again, this all works for personal brands too.
It’s much easier to get recognized for a skill or expertise if you consistently create content and evidence – across media
decide what your unique and focused story is, your superpower, state it explicitly (with words) and then reinforce it implicitly (with your body language, through the way you dress, through the associations you establish with people and institutions, with the media through which you communicate.
Ensure that your personal brand promise stays consistent, both online and offline,”
As you consistently reinforce your personal narrative or your personal brand. By integrating it into everything you do. You’ll also come across as being genuine and authentic.
That’s the 2nd principle of personal branding. Consistency and integration. So now we’ve covered 2 of the 3 principles. The first is being focused on what makes you unique and the second in consistency and integration.
EVOLVE OVER TIME
Ironically, the one thing we can be certain of is change. It’s as true with the evolution of species as it is in business.
As humans we mature, we evolve. Similarly, the world changes, the marketplace evolves, our competitors change, our clients and customers change.
By definition, if we don’t also evolve, we become irrelevant. That goes for both humans and for brands.
I have a great example of what happens when you refuse to evolve. (TOYS R US).Did you know that I used to be a Toys R Us store manager? That was actually my first job out of undergrad. It was a fantastic experience….. I remember…. I also vividly recall the tech and gaming aisle, and wondering why they TRU extend it. They were stuck selling cribs and diapers and licensed merchandise. They also had a huge aisle of old school board games that spanned from the front to the back of the store. But the tech aisle? Gaming and kids’ computers? One side of one small aisle. They didn’t evolve as the toy industry evolved. Such a shame.
On the other hand, an example of a brand that was successful in part due to its evolution? Netflix – in the 1990s Netflix was a rent-by-mail DVD platform, then a subscription service and now a leader in entertainment production and distribution. Wow wow wow.
That reminds me though – Did you catch that the second and third principles I shared with you might be at odds? Principle two is integration and consistency. Principle 3 is evolution. So, you might be asking – you want me to be CONSISTENT, but you also want me to EVOVE? Isn’t that a contradiction? Well, here’s the thing. Successful brands stay true to their core values and benefits. But they also stay current and relevant. Just like we all should with our personal brands!
Let me share an example of an executive I coached: Over her 20 yr career, her personal brand has evolved from being a “really hard worker” and productive to being a “global leader.” As the world changed and as she matured, the personal branding narrative also appropriately evolved. Of course, her focus on hard work and productivity remains core to her value, but now it’s the impact and specifically her global impact that is even more relevant to her personal brand.
So, in terms of this third principle, ask yourself what has changed in terms of your maturity, your roles, your skills, your environment, and what’s evolved. I encourage you to make this part of your personal narrative.
That’s the 3rd and last principle. Brands evolve over time.
So now the brief summary. DO you remember what the 3 branding principles are that we can apply to our personal brands?
The first is to focus on what makes you unique. As I said, if you take one thing away from this episode, it’s thins. Unique is better than better. Git it?
The second principle is integration and consistency. Seek to consistently communicate the same brand through every touch point you have with others. There’s explicit communication, like the words you use, how you introduce yourself, your bio, your LinkedIn page and so on, b u there’s also implicit communication opportunities that can reinforce this message. If your personal brand is that of an inclusive global leader, make sure that everything you say and write and do communicates that. Including with whom you associate, what you do on vacations, all of these things can implicitly reinforce your personal brand. You want to be consistent.
The third and last principle is the successful brands evolve. They need to stay current to stay relevant. Your Personal Brand should never be set in stone. Certainly, your core values will remain, but just like the product brands we buy are updated and refreshed, so too should our personal brands.
I hope that all makes sense and I hope you learned something that helps you develop your personal brand. Again, what differentiates my process for personal branding is that we focus a lot more time and effort on developing or articulating our brand before we start communicating it. Taking the time upfront to articulate what makes you unique makes it so much easier to share your superpowers.
Suddenly, a light goes off and you’re communicating with true confidence.
OK that’s it. Again, you can find a printable version of this episode including a summary and transcript in the shownotes on the talkabouttalk.com website. Just click on PODCAST and then SHOWNOTES.
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