Personal branding, now, that was a term that was thrown around almost every marketing agency in the 1990’s through into the 2000’s. Everyone had to have a personal brand, whether they were selling a service, product, a writer or even it seems, just going shopping. Everyone had business cards that they whipped out at every given moment and it was a ‘buzz word’ at most networking events. It was very ‘in’ to have a personal brand in the late 1990’s and it still is, but these days people seem to be very confused as to what it means. So before we carry on, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of what personal branding actually is.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is the art creating yourself as a brand rather than a company or organisation. Where you become the focus and the thing people remember rather than just a company name.
Let’s look at a good and bad example of personal branding…
If I say to you, who founded Virgin? Most of you will say Richard Branson and you would indeed be correct. Sir Richard as he now is, is well known for being a calm, slightly eccentric (I mean that in the best possible way!), fluffy haired, bearded entrepreneur. He has kept the same visual appearance for years, he is relatively softly spoken, his demeanor doesn’t change and although he is in the spotlight a lot, seems to deep down hide away a little. His personal branding is what makes him, him, and why you remember who he is. He makes us feel like we could talk to him, that he is approachable and that’s what you want right? Someone in charge of a massive company that you can approach right? Well done Sir Richard, well done.
But what if I said, who is the CEO of Barclays Bank? Anyone know? I do but only because my husband works for him. But I bet many of you don’t. One of the largest banks in the world and you don’t know who runs it? Isn’t that a little bad? I think so. I think we should know who controls our financial institutions. But most of you won’t have a clue that the CEO is called Jes Staley, let alone feel we could approach him.
You see, the key to personal branding is quite simply, just being yourself. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Read on lovelies…
Why being your authentic self is the key to personal branding
Quite frankly, and I am being brutally honest here, I can’t be arsed to be anyone other than myself. I came to the realisation a few years ago that if people didn’t like me because I am a bit ‘sweary’ or too bubbly, or a bit of a worry wort at times then that is OK. All those things, those personality traits, those flaws make me who I am, they make me my authentic self. I am not everyone’s cup of tea and that is completely fine because I would rather be me with less friends than any other version of me with more. So I am my own personal brand. Bexz Walker (or The Life Mistress if you know me in this context) is indeed rather loud at times, shy at others, food loving, gaming nerd who loves geeky stuff and of course, life coaching. So I did a little experiment on Facebook to see if people really do see me as my authentic self.
The Facebook experiment
I popped onto Facebook this morning, just my personal profile, and asked my friends and family to give me 3 words that describe me. The result is below.
My friends knew this was for a blog post but I didn’t tell them what it was about so these words are their genuine replies (or at least I hope they are!)
As you can see a lot of the words are very similar. Caring, loving, kind, generous etc all come up (Yup OK I guess this is time for a bit of a confession, you made me tear up when I read all these!), honest, loyal, genuine are also themes that a lot of people said. The words are all very similar because I am me. I am just plain old me and being me became my personal brand without me even knowing it had. How awesome is that?!
You see, if you want people to get to know you, or to feel that you are approachable, don’t be what you think they want to see. Be yourself. Be your authentic self and then you know you can do no more.
Being your authentic self really is the key to personal branding because without it, you aren’t personal branding, you are creating a brand to cover what beauty is already there and once you have done that, then you can get the business cards, logos and all the rest of the shizzle you need.
So whether you are classy and sophisticated, quirky and eclectic, quiet and shy or loud and ballsy (yes, thank you Peter, I saw your comment on my post!), shine the light on your beautiful authentic selves and be proud of your own personal brand.