Personal Branding 101: What Do You Stand For… and What Do You Want to Stand For?

At the end of the day, personal branding is all about defining yourself to your market. It’s about deciding how you want your audience to perceive you, and then creating that perception. Today, we’re going to go through an exercise which will allow you to determine how you are currently perceived, and then determine what changes you’d like to make, if any.

Right now, take a few moments to prepare a test. Create a short questionnaire and share it with trusted clients, friends, and colleagues. Ask them to answer the following:

• When you hear or see my name, what feeling comes to mind first?
• What are three of my most valuable skills?
• What is one trait that makes me different from everyone else?
• In three words, how would you describe my personality?
• What am I most passionate about?

Once you’ve analyzed the results, you’ll have an accurate picture of how your audience perceives you. Remember, the larger your sample size is, the more accurate of a picture you’ll have.

Are you satisfied with your brand? If so, great! If not, that’s okay too! The great thing about personal branding is that it’s an ongoing process. It’s never too late to change direction or turn over a new leaf.

So what to do if you’re not happy with the state of your brand?

The first question to ask yourself is “what do I want to be known for?” When potential clients are exposed to your brand for the first time, what do you want them to see? Maybe you want to be known as friendly, trustworthy, and dependable. Maybe you want to be known as an elite professional, successful and sophisticated. Maybe you want to be known as no-nonsense, down to earth, and realistic. There’s no right or wrong answer—as long as it’s authentic. Trying to brand yourself as something you’re not just won’t work, so stay true to yourself!

Your personality plays an essential role in defining your brand as well—do you have a great sense of humor? Are you persistent in the face of challenges? Or maybe you’re proud of your laser-like focus. By now you probably see a theme emerging. You should be able to identify the primary attributes that you want to be known for. That’s the core of your brand.

But keep in mind that your brand can encompass much more than just your professional life. Are you a family man? Actively involved in your community? A huge sports fan? These elements of your personal life play an important part in defining your brand and adding a touch of humanity. Often, the traits that stick in the mind of a client or a customer aren’t even work-related—it may be your love of fishing, golf, or the local sports team that they remember first and foremost.

Jot down some of the traits that you most want to be known for—from your personality traits to your professional reputation to your non-work interests. This list represents the core of the personal brand that you can work towards creating. If you’d like some help along the way, please get in touch!