Personal branding: a deep dive

3 steps to build your most powerful personal brand 

As was published in an entrepreneurship series for Future Females in 2018.

Let me start by saying I’m not writing as expert in this post. Future Females announced this theme and I thought: … [nothing]. Don’t get me wrong, I do think personal branding is very important. When I look at myself I’m right in the middle, still figuring it out. So for this blog post I’m taking a deep breath – diving into the subject with an open mind – sharing my findings here with you. Ultimately leaving you with a 3-steps guideline. Hoping it will help you and me both to build our most powerful personal brand. 

Some first thoughts that come to mind: who do I know that embodies personal branding? How does this theme relate to last month’s theme of self-love? And oh yes, confidence. You’d definitely need to bring that when working on personal branding. Okay let’s go!

Personal branding heroes

A great way to get your personal branding right is to look for heroes. Real life examples, or even fictive ones if you like. Last year Forbes featured an article calling superheroes “the ultimate brands”. Superheroes teach us the importance of having a purpose and finding your superpower. Also you need to consider aspects like consistency, continuous improvement of your skills and networking. Read this great piece at Forbes.com

Jeff Bezos, founder & ceo of Amazon.com says: “branding is what people say about you when you are not in the room”. So how do you know…? Kidding. You can actually know. And you control this more than you might think. Ask yourself what did you leave them with? How did you look? How did you speak? How did you make people feel? All these things you control. Sure there are always people who like you and people who don’t. Not everyone is going to be your customer, your fan or your friend. That’s (hopefully) not the goal here. The goal is to bring across you. Your personal brand. 

We should pay close attention to the way we engage with people in all facets (our words, energy, appearance) and make sure it is always true to you. This brings me to the next buzzword you find when reading up on personal branding: authenticity. I believe authenticity is key in every part of your life. If something or someone is not authentic, then what do you have? Be real, it definitely lasts longer. Or in the words of one of one of my personal branding heroes Chris Haroun: “be long term focussed” And he likes to quote Warren Buffet: “the longer the view, the wiser the intention”. This applies very much to building your brand I believe. Because you need authenticity and a long term focus to build trusting relationship with your customers, followers, community, etc. 

Joel Peterson, chairman at Jet Blue Airlines wrote a very personal and helpful article about personal branding and how to become aware of how others perceive you. He did a great experiment where he would see himself through the eyes of his kids and this in turn opened up his eyes and eventually changed him (and with it his personal brand). “He drives a grey car, has grey suits and his hair is getting grey, he must see the world as grey. My brand – at least for my kids – was boring, conservative, predictable, and all business.” He had no idea this was part of his personal brand, and he realized it did not at all reflect his personality.

Peterson agrees, if you want to make it in business, you have got to be authentic. Your personal brand has to really reflect who you are in order to be successful. “A great, caring and competent brand requires you to become a great, caring and competent human being”. 

My personal absolute favorite branding hero is a woman who embodies all the above. She comes across as totally real and completely herself on camera. I’m talking about Adriene Mishler of the youtube channel Yoga With Adriene. Big big Youtube hit, with currently 3.2 million subscribers (that was 2018, in 2021 counting 9.79 million). Already in 2015 “Yoga with Adriene” was most googled in the category workout. She is one of the best in what she does, by being who she is. What she adds with her personality to her work is what makes her so great. She is her greatest USP (Unique Selling Point). That must be the ultimate personal branding result. Read the latest interview with Adriene on Mashable

Personal branding & self-love

I promised a deep dive, so brace yourself. It seems personal branding is all about going inward before presenting yourself to the world. To define your personal brand you first have to define yourself. What makes you you? What is your superpower? And what is your purpose? What do you add to the table that is completely and uniquely you that adds to your personal USP? 

And here I thought I was going to write about marketing, social media, appearance. Sure that is part of the outings of personal branding, but at a much later stage. I don’t think the word count of this blog is going to allow me to get there. If you are building a strong personal brand, before you can start communicating, you first need to start a real conversation with yourself. Go inward.

Last month’s theme was on self-love. In order to be successful, to be happy, to be unique, to be balanced, you first start with a lavish dose of self-love. It will allow you to trust who you are, and what you’ve got. And from this trust comes the much desired confidence you need to go outward. To present yourself in a consistent way. To take on any competition. And to deal with the critique and setbacks you will face. You got this now. Because you have your own back. You love yourself, not matter what.  

3-step guide

This quick deep dive has turned out to be a real treasure dive! We’ve already discovered so many gems (12) that can help us build our personal brand:

PURPOSE · SUPERPOWER · CONSISTENCY · CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT · NETWORKING · TRUE SELF · AUTHENTICITY · LONG TERM FOCUS · BE YOUR OWN USP · GO INWARD · SELF LOVE · CONFIDENCE

The quotes and articles I shared and the 12 buzzwords can guide you towards your personal brand. To help you do this I’ve put the 12 gems into a beautiful 3-piece gemstone jewelry set for you to wear at any occasion =) It sums up the article nicely and it can help you define your truest most powerful personal brand.

3 steps to build your most powerful personal brand: 

1. Love yourself to bits: get to know yourself, trust your inner-self and be confident

2. Follow your nature: be authentic and be your true self when you engage with others

3. Be your own greatest USP: whatever your trade is, your skill or service you provide, make sure the YOU shines through in everything you do

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