It is not just businesses that need to take branding seriously, individuals do too. In a world where business culture has been dramatically transformed by new technologies (particularly social media), standing out from the competition isn’t simply advantageous, it’s a necessity. Personal branding enables individuals to convey their positive attributes in a way that is congruent with who they are, differentiating themselves in all situations, from pitching for a new contract or funding to winning a much-desired job. Some of the principles of PR can be used to cultivate a personal brand.
Whether you’re branding a large multinational corporation or a small start-up, the main points for consideration are brand identity and visual presentation. When orchestrating a personal brand, the points for consideration are exactly the same – it simply requires a bit of introspective thought on how to convey your personal values as a unique, compelling brand. In order to do this, you need to analyse your passions, strengths, skills, behaviours and attitudes. Once you know yourself fully, it’s then a case of weaving these attributes together into clear authentic messages, which reflect your behaviour and visual appearance. Thus you will showcase your distinctiveness and convey the key skills and attributes you want to get across to clients, customers and colleagues.
Just as a company’s messaging should be reflective of the values of the company, the same principles apply when it comes to personal branding. Remember that your personal and professional brand are now one and the same (if you need proof of this, companies now regularly scan the social media accounts of prospective employees to ensure there is no disparity between what they say about themselves and what they project), so social media should be used with the knowledge that future business associates and potential employers will be scrutinising your personal brand. Your values should be conveyed in what you say and do, so that people get a sense of the kind of person you are.
In PR, choosing the right communication channels is essential if you want your messages to be received by your target audience. In the same vein, congruence across all communication channels is very important when it comes to personal branding. While you are expected to convey your most professional self on LinkedIn or a website, yet you can be more informal on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it should be obvious that you are still the same person with the same set of values. Never be duplicitous – it’s one of the biggest killers of trust in both personal relationships and in the business world. In the digital era when someone can Google your name and find out so much about you, it’s important to project a positive, strong and consistent personal brand across all channels.
Personal branding is not only important to ensure that your expertise and positive traits are conveyed with integrity; it’s also a great way to build working relationships. By owning your image and publishing certain details about yourself, it’s going to make it a whole lot easier for the right business contact to find you. Personal branding is especially important for company spokespeople as they need to build credibility and trust with audiences for themselves and the corporate brand. Any indicator that a person’s own values are in disharmony with the values of their company will diminish their credibility.