I talk about branding all the time, and it’s fun for me because it’s a meaty and complex subject. That being said, why on earth does anyone really need to brand themselves?
Are the following statements true of you?
- I want clarity on the types of job, business, projects or companies to have in my life.
- I’m ambitious and can’t settle with work that doesn’t fuel my passion.
- I want multiple streams of income.
- I’m mission-driven and want to make an impact in the world.
- I want to be clear with people I meet about what it is I do and what I’m best at.
- I want people to understand and connect with my mission and work.
If any of the above statements apply to you, then you need a “personal brand.” At its core, your personal brand is an identity and an understanding of who you are. It’s having the language and the clarity to express your essence and how that relates to the work you do. It also can help you determine how to expand your revenue streams or projects, since they all need to be aligned with your brand. This clarity can only supercharge your ability to connect people with what you’re doing and attract the type of clients or resources that you need in order to achieve what you want to pursue.
Still not sold? Let me share some examples of personal branding that I think are brilliant. A recent edition of Fast Company featured the 100 most creative people in business. Among those profiled included Shaquille O’Neal, someone who I think is a perfect example of personal branding. Although he’s now retired from sports, he’s invested in companies ranging from a small mobile video company, to the Five Guys burger chain, to Vitamin Water beverages and a range of other, disparate businesses. In response to the question, “How do you protect your personal brand as you align with others?” he responded, “We always tell the owners of the companies I invest in that we are going to get the awareness out, we are going to help this company grow. Then we control our own marketing. Every commercial you’ve seen me in for the past 20 years has been written by me, except the ones on TNT. The way I write them is, I either want you to be informed or I want to make you laugh.”
This is a brilliant example of personal branding. He knows his essence is informing others or making them laugh. That’s his brand. And as a result, he can invest in any company that he wants as long as the way he markets them (and, by extension, himself) is in line with that brand.
Martha Stewart is another example. Her brand is about detail, obsession with perfection and the homegrown. That means she can sell anything with that approach. It’s how she operates–and, as a result, she’s built a veritable empire, every part of which reflects her personal brand.
It’s the same with Shaq: he informs and entertains. That’s where most of us get hung up on defining our personal brand, identifying what it is about how we operate and how we engage with the world that sets us apart. For example, there are millions of personal trainers but each one has their own way of training people — the trick is in clarifying what that “way” is. And that’s usually a difficult task–after all, we can’t watch or experience ourselves as others can. Sure, Shaq knows he’s educating and entertaining others, a realization that’s built the core of his personal brand. That being said, it’s challenging to recognize those abilities and passions within yourself.
The solution? Give your personal brand some serious thought. What values do you offer that set you apart from others in your industry? How are you different from your peers and colleagues? Why should someone work with you? Once you’ve created a clear vision of your personal brand, you can use that as a framework with which to assess projects, work, or revenue streams and how they fit with your brand. You’ll also have the language needed to help communicate your brand to others, which will help you build a better consumer base, a better business, a better career and, ultimately, a more fulfilling professional life.
After working on a farm, building international start-up joint ventures in the corporate world and serving as a COO to companies purchased by Google, Laura Garnett decided to create her dream job. She’s passionate about helping people and businesses build their brands by connecting them to their Zone of Genius, all inspired by her belief that if everyone leveraged their innate gifts, there would be no work angst. Check out her blog, follow her on Twitter @garnettl and connect with her on LinkedIn.
This post originally appeared on LauraGarnett.com