Your personal brand is what connects you to the world. It’s your professional statement about you and what matters to you. And you’re telling it to the world. For some people, it’s just putting up a nice logo and a well-written “about us” page. But, it goes deeper than that. Your personal brand influences what you do, when you do it, and how you do it in the professional world. It can form the foundation of your company’s brand.
For example when Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, came up with the brand tag “Tomorrow’s shoes”, which later became TOMS shoes, what could have been going on in his mind? He had experienced firsthand how children in parts of Argentina grew up without shoes. This was the case in many areas of the world. So, he set out to fulfill this need.
His desire was to see every kid in need of a shoe, from every corner of the world, with shoes. And he expressed this in his brand.
His idea was to match every new shoe purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need. So, a buyer wasn’t just buying a shoe but also meeting a need.
That idea has grown into a powerful company and the TOMS shoes brand now helps sponsor education, health, and economic opportunities for children around the world. Blake Mycoskie’s personal brand birthed the company brand, “One for one” and forms a major part of the company story. TOMS shoes is a powerful personal branding example because it dispenses of the fluff and brings out the important values of the business.
And that is what branding is, really: dispensing of the fluff. It allows a person or a business to get down to the brass tacks of what is really important.
There are many other examples of personal brands which have evolved into businesses, small and large, making considerable market impact. An old one being McDonald’s, which the brothers turned from a barbecue in 1948 to a timeless brand. Then, there is QuickSprout, which evolved from a personal $100,000 experiment to a major online marketing powerhouse.
Consider this: How do you describe yourself and what you do in just 25 words or less? It’s a great personal branding exercise.
You have less than 7 seconds to capture attention. Literally, an attention span that’s much shorter than a goldfish’s. There is more pressure on people’s time than ever before. Many times, they don’t want to know if you drink a coffee latte every morning. Nowadays, short and direct wins.
So, how do you brand yourself in a few words, short story, or a few statements? You don’t want to be voluble. Experience tells us that people who talk too much make less impact and they tend to be phony. So, how do you brand yourself without saying too much?
Bring Out Your Persona
When you look closely, you’ll discover that company brands feature an abstract and a personal element. You’ll find these in most top name brands. For example, Ikea is about cost-consciousness and simplicity.
They also have a personal element which brings family comfort to the forefront. I believe a personal brand should also follow the same blueprint. Your personal brand should feature a ‘how’ element and a ‘why’ element.
The how element talks about you and, most importantly, your persona (in this case, how you do things) e.g simplistic approach, attention to detail, idealistic, flexible, in-depth etc..
So let’s say I want to define my brand. The ‘how’ element should answer the question:
– What words best describe me? (words and phrases)
– What words best describe how I do things? (words and phrases)
Bring Out Your Purpose
Your ‘why’ is what gives you a sense of fulfillment about what you do. It should be important and relatable. Why do you do what you do? Blake Mycoskie’s ‘why’ was to meet the need of kids without shoes. It’s simple, it’s direct, and it’s relatable.
The ‘why’ element should answer the question:
– What’s most important to me about what I do?
Now, you want to define your brand by combining both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ into a short story or a few statements that people can relate with. For example, a hair stylist might define his/her brand in the following ways:
- How: Sensitive, Meticulous, Loves to be thorough, Conversational, Always learning, Playful. (Your logo should reflect this.)
- Why: As an experienced makeup artist and hair stylist, I’ve seen how the right hair and makeup can make women more confident. I want to help as many women attain a high level of self-confidence through beautiful and expressive hairstyles. (A major part of your story)
Combined: Trisha D. is a meticulous hair stylist with a playful heart. Doing hair since 2003, she believes she can help as many women as possible attain a high level of self-confidence through beautiful and expressive hairstyles.
Mission/brand statement: I want to help as many women attain a high level of self-confidence through beautiful and expressive hairstyles.
Powerful name brands are able to combine the abstract and personal aspects of what they do into few words. Likewise, powerful personal brands will combine the ‘how’ and ‘why’ elements in precious little words. The approach outlined above should be able to help you create a powerful personal brand.