In October 2012, I was working for an International Insurance company, every team was asked to brainstorm, write and submit their plans for the coming year. We had series of meetings, analysing and writing forecast for the coming year. I remember getting home after a planning session and I told my wife, “we work for organisations, we brainstorm, we forecast, we plan – why are we not this intentional in our personal lives?”
That year, we sat on our 4-seater dining table and planned for the coming year. Unfortunately, we have not had another thorough round table planning session as a family ever since.
Here is my point, we organise marketing campaigns, we try to build brands, we brainstorm and cause disruptions while positioning brands and products. We should apply the same principles and processes in our personal lives, hence the need for personal branding.
Personal branding is simply marketing yourself as a brand, it is the way you want to be perceived by your stakeholders i.e. Family, Colleagues, Clients, Suppliers, Potential Clients, Potential employers etc. It is a combination of your online (e.g Social media) and offline (Physical appearance) image. Your personal brand makes you stand out and unique, this uniqueness makes you different and it plays a major role in determining your career future.
I will like to tell you that you already have a personal brand – Yes, you already have a position you occupy in the minds of people. Call it reputation, but if you want to be intentional about life and career you should call it Personal Brand. You remember the concept of Brand Identity and Brand Image?
A company’s brand identity is how that business wants to be perceived by consumers. The components of the brand (name, logo, tone, tagline, typeface) are created by the business to reflect the value the company is trying to bring to the market and to appeal to its customers. Brand identity is separate from brand image – the term for how consumers perceive the brand (Investopedia).
Bringing the above definition into personal branding, everyone has a personal brand image – because it is not a matter of choice, people will have an impression of you. But not everyone has got a personal brand identity.
|Brand Identity||Brand Image|
|1||Brand identity develops from the source or the company.||Brand image is perceived by the receiver or the consumer.|
|2||Brand message is tied together in terms of brand identity.||Brand message is untied by the consumer in the form of brand image.|
|3||The general meaning of brand identity is “who you really are?”||The general meaning of brand image is “How market perceives you?”|
|4||Its nature is that it is substance oriented or strategic.||Its nature is that it is appearance oriented or tactical.|
|5||Brand identity symbolizes firms’ reality.||Brand image symbolizes perception of consumers|
|6||Brand identity represents “your desire”.||Brand image represents “others view”|
|7||It is enduring.||It is superficial.|
|8||Identity is looking ahead.||Image is looking back.|
|9||Identity is active.||Image is passive.|
|10||It signifies “where you want to be”.||It signifies “what you have got”.|
|11||It is total promise that a company makes to consumers.||It is total consumers’ perception about the brand.|
|Focus on shaping your brand identity, brand image will follow.
Source – Management Study Guide
Your personal brand identity is strategic, there is need to be intentional about it. It is the very core of who you are and how you want to be perceived by everyone around you.
Please read the illustration below from Deanna deBara:
Let’s say you are a middle school student. As an awkward pre-adolescent, you want to be perceived as cool and get invited to sit at the best table in the cafeteria. But you can’t just force other people to have that image of you. In order to develop this brand, you need to do some work.
So, you make sure you watch the right YouTube channels, so you always know the latest meme. Maybe you start working on your free throw. And cultivating on an impression of Mr. Archibald, your science teacher. These actions are the work you’re putting towards develop your desired image; they’re your branding.
Finally, you need to make sure you look the part. You save up your money to buy the new Adidas shoes everyone covets. You get a new haircut. You try out for (and join) the basketball team.
Those tangible elements—the shoes, the haircut, the team membership—that’s brand identity.
Your brand identity is what makes you instantly recognizable to the world. Your audience will associate your brand identity with your product or service, and that identity is what forges the connection between you and your audience, builds loyalty, and determines how people will perceive you.