In today’s business world, it’s important to see ourselves as our brand. I like the general definition of a brand that I share with the students in my not-for-profit marketing class. To quote Nathalie Kylander and Christopher Stone in their article, “The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector,” “A brand is more than a visual identity: the name, logo, and graphic design used by an organization. A brand is a psychological construct held in the minds of all those aware of the branded product, person, organization, or movement. Brand management is the work of managing these psychological associations.”
Are you managing your brand? Have you even identified your brand? We make huge footprints of our brands on social media. I’ve branded myself on my LinkedIn professional headline as: Marketing/public relations/social mediaexecutive, writer, editor, educator, connection maker, semiotician, do-gooder. This is the psychological construct that I want held in the minds of those who view my profile. Equally important to establishing your personal brand is living it. Would the memorable Coca-Cola logo and the company’s products mean anything without consistency and buy-in from the public? We mortals don’t spend millions (or is it billions?) of dollars on advertising. The way we project our identity is our advertising; it is our brand.
How are you most apt to project your personal brand? In a recent seminar presented by journalist Ramon Ray for the Social Media Association, attendees heard using social media at the top of the list, followed by (in no particular order) video, being “out there” in public, publishing articles, visibility in the press and building a following of your brand. Not everyone has the tools to accomplish all these goals, but what is stopping any of us from “Cultivating a strong personal brand…[it] is just as much about being responsive to what is being said as it is about creating intellectual property,” suggests Shama Hyder, a Forbes contributor.
This New Year is the perfect time to cultivate your personal brand. My five step plan shouldn’t be challenging for anyone who is motivated to increase and improve business opportunities, enhance personal and professional growth, and become a Coca-Cola-type success story.
- Social media. Improve your LinkedIn page with up-to-date, comprehensive information and a professional photograph. Utilize LinkedIn “posts,” “projects” and other features to make your LinkedIn page a living and breathing branding tool.
- Network. Nurture existing relationships, create new ones and make connections for others. Nothing fosters a positive brand like being a resource and trusted referral source among your contacts.
- Blog. You need not be a professional writer to be a convincing blogger. Start with what you know – your line of work, your hobbies, the issues that most concern you – and write about them. You can easily establish a blog on WordPress.com and elsewhere.
- Repurpose. Everything on social media can be repurposed. If it appears on your or your company’s website, it also should be shared on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Blast it on Constant Contact or the other tools created for mass emails.
- Take a good look at yourself as an outsider would. Are you seeing what you want the world to see? Appearance counts and so does sincerity. Be the best brand you can be.