Why you need a personal brand


Let me start off with this:

I am no marketing genius.  I believe I took one class in college where I learned the 5 P’s (and then subsequently forgot them), and until starting my blog and subsequently being thrust into the world of social media and web marketing, that’s where my education in that subject ended.

However, one day during my daily brainstorming session (AKA while I was taking a shower), my mind wandered to how more and more focused companies seem to be on maintaining their brand image on a day-to-day basis. I mean, Netflix just fired Kevin Spacey, who played one of their groundbreaking characters, to distance themselves from the negativity surrounding his sexual assault allegations. That kind of focus.

And while I was washing the conditioner out of my hair, I wondered, “Why aren’t we as individuals doing the same? Why aren’t we spending as much time honing our image as companies do for theirs?”

We immediately think of class when we hear “Michael Kors” and cheap when someone throws out the word “Forever 21” (don’t act like you still don’t shop there), but do we ever actually sit down and wonder what terms our name is associated with?  

Unless you’re running your own business, probably not. However, your personal brand – that image you project that tells people who you are and what you want to be known for – may be something you want to prioritize.
And here’s why:

People tend to gravitate towards those who have the same values as they do; thus, if you are putting out there that you are a party queen with little regards for your 5-year plan, you will attract like-minded individuals. Good for you, you wild child – carry on.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you are known as a go-getter who is extremely career-focused, those with similar values will gravitate into your circle… including those who could help skyrocket your career.

By developing a brand, you are stating to yourself (and those around you) what you value most, which thereby also forces you to actually think about what you value most.

Sometimes we get so distracted by the small things pulling at our attention that we forget the big picture, and while we want to come across as a certain way, those tiny pulls on our wallet and our time can start to slowly shift our focus to something else. Oops.

However, building a brand brings those values you want to prioritize back to the forefront, which not only helps project the right image but also refocuses your life on what brings you the most happiness. How’s that for a win-win?

Fake it ‘til you make it, right? By promoting your personal brand, you are constantly being reminded of who you want to be, which works some weird voodoo magic and actually makes you act that way. I know, craziness.

What’s even more magical is when others start believing that image you’re projecting and it makes you believe (and act) it even more.  How killer is that?

Now, the wonderful thing about a personal brand is that you have complete control of it. Yes, ladies, complete control.  You are behind the wheel and there’s no backseat driver telling you which way to turn.

Your own brand takes its cues from the way you dress to the organizations you choose to be a part of to how you project yourself on Instagram. And while molding your life to your brand may seem like quite the project, it really can be easily done, and it all starts with answering these 4 questions:

What do I want to be known for?
This was a little hard for me as I am a born and bred perfectionist (meaning I want to be known as being great at EVERYTHING), but let’s be real, I will never be on Top Chef for my cooking skills.  And to be honest, I don’t want to be.

Don’t answer this question based on what you think you should value but rather on what you love and want to promote about yourself. Choose 3 key qualities – like compassionate, stylish, successful, or healthy – and place your focus on them.

What/who do you feel exemplifies those aspects and why?
Here is where you really think about what those qualities mean to you.

What is your definition of successful or generous or fierce?  And who do you associate with those terms?  
Your definition may be different than that of everyone around you, but you need to be responsible for your vision and how you carry it out.

How would others describe me? And why?
Oh, you think I’m total ladyboss material? Yeah, me too.

Getting feedback from others helps you not only see the image you’re projecting from a different viewpoint but can also help you determine your strategy for making that change. What’s even more beneficial is knowing the why behind their answers. You could be sending out a vibe you had no idea you were giving off, and knowing that information can help you refrain from brand sabotage in the future.

What do you need to do to move towards changing your image to fit your brand?
First and foremost, reflect on your actions (not thoughts, people…those don’t count here) thus far and how you need to alter them to coincide with the direction you want to head.

Do you need to give up those Thirsty Thursday parties so that you’re still able to bring your A-game to work on Friday? Or trade in those clothes that were cheap but don’t really fit that well to come across as the stylish 20-something you wish to be?

Figure out what you need to do to align yourself with your brand and then do it. Then write down that game plan and stick to it.

Secondly, give yourself a reminder.  I’ve written my 3 qualities in a spot where I see them every day so that they are constant reminders of who I want to be.  It helps me to keep my “brand” in mind during those day-to-day moments when I’m tired and don’t want to put in the effort to showcase myself (like when I’ve stayed out WAY too late on a Wednesday night and still need to show up chipper and looking professional at 8am Thursday morning).  

Now, your personal brand shouldn’t be something you have to consciously think about every day; however, you should always keep your top 3 in the back of your mind so that when a tough choice comes along, you can choose the path that leads you towards that image you want to project. 

And remember, you are the decision-maker when it comes to how you want to be perceived by the world (ah, so much power!). Whatever your brand may be, make it your own and ensure you are exemplifying it in your words and your actions…and also maybe your Instagram account.