No, a personal branding strategy has nothing to do with cowboys, cows, iron, and fire. Unless you're a cowboy, then it's all good!
Branding is one of those concepts that can be difficult to pin down, especially when you start talking about a personal branding strategy. Let's start by talking about what branding is, and then we'll move on to how you can make a personal branding strategy work for you.
Branding started as a marketing technique for business. This is what companies use to make themselves and their products more attractive to you on a personal level They use branding strategies to send (hopefully positive) messages to you, to get you to trust their company and their products.
This relationship between consumer and manufacturer is constantly changing and updating as new technologies and new sales techniques become available.
When you see "just do it" you immediately think of Nike and the Nike swoosh. You also think of good, expensive (but worth it) shoes and other sports gear. That is branding at its best, and most basic.
In the good ol' days, branding was done in print or in person. Radio dramatically changed the branding strategy of most companies. A manufacturer could now reach a much larger market, and new branding strategies had to be developed.
Television set the branding strategy concept on its head, and then the internet and social media completely changed the game. Companies now have to be consistent across every platform of their business.
And so do you.
Much like companies build a consistent message around their culture and their products, you can use strategic personal branding is used to build a consistent message about you as a person, your career or your business. Simply put, branding is your reputation, and giving yourself a reputation is part of a personal branding strategy.
Put on your way-back pants and think about high school. No, not modern day high school, but back before there were cell phones in every pocket.
If you don't have that in your memory banks, either because you're too old to remember or too young to have lived it, maybe you should check out Freaks and Geeks, 16 Candles or pretty much any John Hughes movie ever made. Those covers all the basics of teens being traumatized by their branding.
Back in the day, your personal brand was given to you, usually by the popular kids because you did something really stupid, amazing or different. (Yes, that happened to the popular kids too!)
Once you were 'branded' you were generally stuck with that all the way through school. The only way to get out of it was to change schools. Or be in a John Hughes film.
You don't have to be branded a geek, jock, stoner or goon in today's highly connected electronic world. You can decide what you want to be and then become that. That's what strategic personal branding is all about... showing the world who you really are, not what someone thinks you should be.
Using social media and some well thought out personal branding strategies, you can create your own reputation. You can be the person you want to be. The secret is knowing who, or what, you want to be.
Start with something simple: get every social media account you can think of.
This isn't business branding, this isn't trying to come up with clever website names, this is just getting your personal social media accounts locked down. You might have to choose a variation of your name. For example, if your name is John Smith, you're not going to get johnsmith.com (well, not inexpensively anyway).
And that's okay.
Add a middle initial, change your first and middle names to initials, you get the picture. But don't get cute. You're going for a strategic branding strategy here, nothing else.
Here are the areas you should focus on:
First and most importantly... get a domain name. I suggest registering with NameCheap, Bluehost or Hostgator. Don't worry about hosting or setting up a website right now; that'll come later. You will eventually want to establish a web presence and these 3 are the top players today.
Now go sign up for these social media accounts. Get as close to your real name as you can, using the guidelines described above.
Now it's time to start work on what you want your brand to be. I would start with your bio on each of those accounts that you just set up. Here's a little fill-in-the-blank to get you started.
Hi! My name is _____________. (should be easy for you.)
I am a ______________, ______________ and _____________ (what do you want to be? not necessarily what you do right now, but what would you be if you could be anything?)
currently living in the ____________ (general regions or cities, not specifics. should also be easy.)
I enjoy ___________. (what do or would you absolutely love to do? pick more than one. it'll be fun!)
For me, it looks like this.
Hi! My name is Dee Hathaway. I am a writer, blogger, and personal branding consultant currently living in the desert southwest. I enjoy watching TV, writing and helping others reach their full potential.
Remember when you filled in that part about what you want to be?
That's the start of your personal branding strategy.
If you are a help desk coordinator but really want to be a mechanic, it's ok to tell yourself, and everybody else, that you are a mechanic. Even if it's just at heart.
Making dreams come true starts with saying them out loud (or posting them on social media. whatever)