Everyone must have a personal brand. This is no longer an option, but a necessity. Personal branding is about finding our power and using it. Most people don’t realize that they have an edge―a uniqueness that they bring to the world. Don’t be insecure about your power; know that you have more power than you think you have.
Thinking of yourself as a brand can be very powerful, especially in the workplace or the marketplace. If someone at a company is good at something or known for something, this is their personal identity, or their personal brand. It gives them relevance and visibility within their work world. So what’s your personal brand in your work? If you don’t know, no worries … we’ll discuss how to develop your personal brand later in this blog.
Thinking of myself as a brand has been absolutely key to my success, whether it is “Jennifer Smith, the VP/Corporate Executive” or “J.J. Smith, the Dating Diva.” These are two personal brands that I manage very carefully every day. To give you an idea of other personal brands, these could be a Corporate Executive/Philanthropist or Stockbroker/Financial Expert or Image Consultant/Fashion Diva.
You must have a personal brand no matter what your job, work or career is today or in the future. Branding allows you to think of yourself as a “product” in a competitive marketplace and forces you to think about how to differentiate your product, which is you, from the competition. Your product consists of all the skills, competencies and value you bring to the marketplace. Your brand helps you to think strategically about how to differentiate yourself from others, visually and verbally; this includes the image you project (how you look) and what you say (how you communicate).
You have to develop a distinct personal brand, whether you’re a teacher, corporate professional, dentist, retail manager, artist, basketball coach, consultant, business owner, etc. You should be able to articulate your brand in clear, simple terms and be consistent with it. So when someone thinks of “A,” they think of you. As an example, one of my Facebook friends is a foreclosure expert and this friend constantly provides tips on Facebook about foreclosure sales or the best way to handle your own foreclosure. Now whenever I think of foreclosures, he is the first guy that comes to my mind.
Tips for Developing Your Personal Brand:
• Identify your personal brand name. It begins with a name as this will be the verbal identity for your brand. A great name can really help build your brand. In my corporate job, I have a specialized skill or certification in the IT field, and because of it, I’ve been referred to at work as the “ITIL Master.” Whereas for the “J.J. Smith” brand, I’m known as the “Dating Diva” by the media. In fact, the CW DC50 (the CW network’s TV station in Washington) calls me “DC’s Dating Diva.”
• Develop a statement (one line) expressing your personal brand. Once you identify your personal brand name, this work should then be followed with the writing of a clear statement expressing who you are or what you do better than everyone else at work, in your career, or in your market. It must be authentic, genuninely “you,” and be different from everyone else. What is special about you? I can think of two of my employees with the same skill set, but one has a stronger personal brand because of the effort they spend differentiating their skill set from everyone else’s in the industry. So you can guess which one gets paid more. You may want to take a personality test or assessment as a starting point for identifying your personal strengths. I took the Myers-Briggs personality test when I was in my 20s, and it gave me so much clarity about my personal strengths and weaknesses.
• Package your brand. The next step is packaging for your brand with a strong visual identity. Many large companies spend millions of dollars on the packaging of new products, such as soda or candy bars, so we have to invest time (and money, if necessary) packaging “you.” The one advantage to being a woman is that we have so many tools to enhance our packaging: clothes, hair, makeup, etc. The goal is to have a memorable style that aligns with your personal brand. During the day, I try to be an attractive, feminine corporate executive, and by night, my goal is to be the sexy Dating Diva. Of course, this comes with some effort, because growing up as a tomboy I’d rather be in sweats all day!
• Identify your target audience. Your target audience should clearly know and understand your brand. If you work for a company, your primary target audience should be your immediate supervisors and the senior executives within your firm. Your secondary target audience will include your peers, employees, partners or customers. Once you’ve identified your target audience, make sure they know how you and your brand can solve their problems or bring value to them.
• Identify your competition. Know who is doing what you do and make sure you do it better than they do. Looking at your competition will help you differentiate yourself from them. You will never appeal to everyone, so don’t worry about everyone liking you; just be sure to reflect a personal brand―which is authentic to you―as this helps you get noticed and will be viewed more positively in your career or work environment.
• Create your brand experience every day. Make sure that every interaction people have with you reflects your personal brand. This includes how your office looks, what your voicemail says, how you communicate or lead meetings, and the type of emails you send. Ask yourself, “Am I reflecting my personal brand today?”
Trust me, developing your personal brand is so important. If you don’t brand yourself, someone else will and you can bet that they won’t brand “you” as well as you can. Also, don’t be afraid to rebrand yourself if you’re making a career change. If you want to enter a field in which you have little experience, brand yourself as a “promising radio host,” for instance, and continue to build your skill set in that area.
JJ Smith (www.JJSmithOnline.com) is a nutritionist and certified weight-management specialist who has been featured on The Montel Williams Show, The Jamie Foxx Show and on the NBC, FOX, CBS and CW networks. Her advice has also been featured in the pages of Glamour, Essence, and Ladies Home Journal. Since reclaiming her health, losing weight, and discovering a “second youth” in her forties, bestselling author JJ Smith has become the voice of inspiration to women who want to lose weight, be healthy, and get their sexy back! JJ may be contacted by email at [email protected] and on Twitter: jjsmithonline and Facebook Page: RealTalkJJ