Personal brands are so much more than LinkedIn quips and witty Instagram posts
Call it your life’s work, your purpose, your presence, thought leadership or je ne sais quoi, we don’t have to make it harder than it is: Your personal brand is your energy moved out into the world.
Imagine knowing your purpose, feeling it with powerful certainty and blazing energy, and taking action from that place. You are tuned in to what matters most and the impact you want to have. That type of energy is palpable and contagious, and it’s your personal brand.
If you’re still not on board with the personal branding craze, let’s check in to see if you already have a brand:
● Are you selling creative services such as consulting, advising or coaching?
● Are you the creative voice of your company?
● Do you share stories or lessons learned in your career?
● Do people choose to work with you because of your leadership and idea-generation?
● Do you speak at events or share your expertise on panels?
● Are you passionate about a social cause and want to recruit others in supporting and growing the cause?
● Are you on LinkedIn?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you have a personal brand.
Now you get to choose: Do you want to grow your personal brand in an intentional and thoughtful way to reflect your values and the future trajectory of your career? Or do you want people to just assume they know who you are? I’m going to assume you’d prefer to be known in a deep way that’s connected to and led by your values—and a personal brand can help get you there.
Three Steps to Intentionally Designing Your Personal Brand
1. Define what branding and personal branding is
First, let’s lay the groundwork for what we are creating. According to Seth Godin, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a customer or client’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
What I love about this definition is that it’s absent of the word “design.” If you’ve taken a branding course, you’ve probably developed a brand mood board. People often like to focus on the visuals of a brand—which is fine—but it’s not the first step for personal branding.
Starting to build a personal brand from visuals and graphic design elements is like saying a marriage is just the ring and the wedding. But personal branding is a full experience. It’s not just a beautiful grid on Instagram or witty posts on LinkedIn; it’s the declaration you make every day that’s in alignment with who you are and the impact you want to make in the world.
2. Brainstorm your purpose
Ever notice how certain things come easy to you that may be hard for someone else? As you begin to look for what your purpose is, look for things that seem simple or obvious to you but that others praise you for. Make a list of 10 such traits—big or small, silly or trite.
What are you good at and, more importantly, what do you love doing? Imagine you are writing a 10-chapter book; what would the title of each chapter be? Next, write an intro paragraph for each chapter, explaining why the topic lights you up and why it would make a difference in the world.
I find the formula for both your personal brand and your leadership style is to add up the vivid clarity of your purpose, your laser focus and your intentional action. This formula is key to not only your personal brand, but to your personal leadership.
Energy is a renewable resource. As Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr explain in “The Power of Full Engagement,” “Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy. The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not.”
Here’s the catch: Most people live their lives by default. But you can choose to be in alignment with your personal brand commitment, your life purpose, who you are and how you show up in the world each day.
Here are three quick ways to align your energy with your personal brand:
- Vivid clarity: We have 63,000 thoughts a day, 70% of which are repeat offenders. Use clear language that is aligned with your purpose.
- Laser focus: Notice what drains you of energy and what generates energy.
- Intentional action: Find a role model, mentor, consultant or coach to help you create an intentional action plan to build your personal brand and career path.
3. Get over yourself and just do it already
Highly ambitious, creative people often dim their light to make sure they aren’t shining “too bright.” After recently having brunch with a friend, she posted a message to Facebook about our conversation:
“[W]e talked about the feeling you get after you’ve shared your gift with people. The elation you feel when you realize you are doing something you can no longer live without. And the absolute positivity pumping in your veins when the recipients of your gift tell you the same thing.
We talked about how often we dim our light to make sure we aren’t shining ‘too bright.’ You know, that moment when you make less of a huge thing you accomplished because you worry you will come across as full of yourself or boasting on social media. You get self-conscious of how much you enjoy the attention you are getting for the thing you do well, so you try to stop it from happening.
Well, I’m going to stop doing that. Because screw that noise.
There may be someone waiting to criticize us for one thing or another, and starting today I’ve decided that I’d rather they criticize me for what I’m doing than for what I’m not doing. My shine will no longer be in anyone else’s hands.”
My friend goes on to share that she recently developed a series of leadership presentations in her spare time. Funny thing, she doesn’t have spare time, this is the power of vivid clarity and laser focus generating more personal energy inside of her that she shines out.
We have a choice each day to turn our energy toward or away from what we most value. Do the work to find what you are committed to and choose that path. Be you, be personable, relatable, authentic and share with genuine honesty. Without that personal touch, people who want to know more aren’t truly getting a brand experience. They want to know you, like you and trust you.
Plus, it’s so much easier to be yourself than not.
Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash.