How to define your personal brand

By Samantha Baey
The Hoffman Agency

Walking past McDonald’s every day on my way to work usually does not elicit any response from my placid morning self. But, on one particular morning, with the brightly lit capital M sign reflecting back at me, I couldn’t help but wonder what is it about this fast food chain that keeps its brand going so strong for so long?

Everyone knows what branding is. What compels us to crave for the burgers and fries at McDonald’s? Or in another situation, why do we choose to buy a certain bag over another? Why do we fork out a hundred times more for a Chanel, Gucci or a Louis Vuitton? The root of these questions lies in branding — the perceived worth given to a bag when it carries the logo of one of the above-mentioned brands.

Now, let’s turn the attention to ourselves. Have we ever thought about personal branding? The kind of self that we present to the world out there: how our thoughts, our actions and the way we interact with others becomes a part of who we are.

To brand yourself, you need to identify your strengths and downplay your weaknesses so as to communicate your power of influence and command a certain level of respect. For starters, have you defined your personal brand? If so, are you showcasing it every day?

According to findings from leadership organization Glenn Llopis Group (GLG), a thought leadership, human capital and business strategy consulting firm in America, less than 15 percent of leaders have truly defined their personal brands and less than 5 percent are living them consistently at work on a daily basis.

To help with the personal branding discovery journey, we first need to take a step back and think about these three questions:

  1. What is unique about the way I think?
  2. How do I leverage upon this uniqueness?
  3. How do my unique traits impact the choices I make?

What is unique about the way I think?

Just like there can only be one Tiger Woods, there can also only be one of you. It might be odd to ask yourself such a seemingly narcissistic question, but you need to get this question answered before embarking on your personal branding journey. Just like how Tiger Woods putts and swings his way toward perfection, you may have a hidden talent that you just have not discovered and developed yet.

Think of this question along the lines of the various characteristics that your friends or colleagues have commended you for. This could mean your ability to tell a great story, or your strong work ethic. Basically anything that you perceive to be a unique trait that is not innate in everybody.

How do I leverage upon this uniqueness?

All human beings are different. Their wants, their needs and their pursuits in life.

Some memories may have been painful, while others enjoy countless joyous occasions.

At the end of the day, we are nothing more than an accumulation of the individual experiences that are the bricks that build our lives. And, understanding these experiences can give us a glimpse of our strengths and weaknesses.

It is always in your best interest to leverage your unique experiences or trait/s to create a personal brand, which is actually nothing more than telling your own story. Ask yourself how you can have a platform to showcase that unique storytelling ability you have, and then position yourself such that more people are exposed to this special ability of yours. Everybody has something to offer. Knowing yourself and your experiences will help you figure out just what that thing to offer actually is.

How do my unique traits impact the choices I make?

This is the final question to ask yourself after discovering what traits make you unique and how best to leverage these interesting bits about yourself.

This is probably the hardest question of the lot to ask yourself as many of us either don’t think we are at that level yet, or we do not believe that we have that oomph factor to measure the level of influence we have on others.

Think of what draws us to celebrities and famous personalities.

We are all attracted to different personalities – of various quirks – because of what they stand for. We could admire Oprah for her zero-to-hero story; from a sexually abused child to someone who has inspired women all over the world. Or entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos, the two most successful e-commerce billionaires whose wit and strategic thinking have driven droves of customers to propel the success of Alibaba and Amazon respectively. Or Beyoncé, whom we admire for her independence, leadership, and the electrifying stage presence she carries.

At the end of the day, just what is that X factor? What is that secret ingredient that makes people desire and crave these personalities’ attention?

Do you have something similar? Do you have something that could be of influence to others around you? If not, can you create it? Having asked yourself these three very important questions, you will then be one step closer to discovering your personal brand.

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