The 10 Point Guide To Building A Powerful Personal Brand
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You already have a personal brand whether you realize it or not. Here’s how to make sure it serves you rather than hurts you.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “brand”?
Maybe it’s a logo, or a color scheme, or your favorite clothing designer or automobile manufacturer.
A logo, while representative of a brand, is not the brand itself. The brand itself is rooted in how that product or service makes you feel. What you can expect from them. The consistency of the delivery.
Strong brands are built from consistency and trust.
This is why you can walk into a McDonald’s in Toyko, or Boise, Idaho, and know immediately you are in a McDonald’s.
This is why you can buy the same size Adidas sneakers every time without trying them on.
This is why a brand marketer can get canned for using an ever so slightly different shade of blue than the brand kit calls for.
But, here’s a brand you may not have considered falling into the same category:
You’ve likely heard a lot about personal branding over the past few years as it’s become a more prevalent topic of discussion, and maybe you thought it only applied to social media influencers, or marketers, or celebrities.
But the truth is that YOU have a personal brand in the marketplace of life, whether you like it or not.
In this guide, we’ll discuss 10 steps to optimizing your brand so it works for you, not against you.
1: Define your “why.”
What is it that you stand for and believe in?
The strongest brands in the world don’t win because of what they do, they win because of why they do it.
There is always competition in the marketplace whether we’re talking about a product, service, or talent. The differentiation lies in why (and how) the brand does what it does.
Imagine that you hold value system A, and you’re comparing two products to buy. One brand supports value system A, and the other supports value system B.
All things equal, it’s obvious you will choose the brand who holds the same value system as you do.
The same happens in your life, whether it’s dating, or applying for a job, or finding the next big client – there is A LOT of competition out there.
People resonate with a story, a mission, a why. When they feel that you are aligned with them, they will choose you over all others.
This is why clarity around these values are so important. If someone doesn’t know what you stand for, how can they ever relate to you or your mission?
They can’t, and they’ll go somewhere else because of it.
2: Get SUPER clear on who your tribe is.
The starting price of a new Rolls Royce is around $300,000 USD. The investment can nearly double depending on the options you choose.
If that sounds insane to you, then you’re not Rolls Royce’s target client.
When you ride in a Rolls Royce, it feels like you’re sitting in a living room. The seats are plush and hand-stitched. The wood is real, and solid. The piano black accents are as deep as the midnight sky, and the ride quality makes you feel like you’re floating above the road.
Rolls Royce has a extra-clear vision of the person who would invest in that driving (or riding) experience.
And, they simply do not serve people who fall outside of that profile.
The challenge we face with this on a personal level is that we want to please everyone. We want to be liked by everyone. We want to feel accepted by everyone.
And, in doing so, we never really find out who OUR tribe is.
You may notice that Rolls Royce isn’t running commercials on daytime TV. Why?
For the same reason as above – their target client isn’t sitting around watching daytime TV, and there’s no point in spending time or money advertising to people who will never buy their cars.
So, why then, are you trying to get the approval of people who aren’t really in your tribe?
A brand is designed to serve a certain type of customer. Your personal brand is designed to attract specific people and opportunities into your life depending on the life you’re looking to create for yourself.
If you don’t define this, you’ll never know who is (or isn’t) really a fit for YOU personally and professionally.
Be a Rolls Royce.
3: Build trust through consistency.
Your friend is visiting your city for the first time.
They’re staying in a busy downtown location that you are very familiar with.
They ask you what restaurant you would recommend they check out.
Without hesitation, you answer confidently.
Why did you choose this restaurant over all of the other choices?
Because every time you’ve ever gone, the food and service have been superb. And if it’s not been, they’ve made it right for you.
You trust them, because they are consistent in their quality.
And because of that, you know that your friend will have the same top notch experience when they visit as well.
This is the mark of a strong brand – trust through consistency.
When someone hires you, or works with you, or goes to an event with you; they know what they’re getting. They know because you’ve shown up with the same confidence and results time, and time, and time, and time again.
“Call Steve, he always gets it done.”
“Hire Susie, she never lets you down.”
This is how we build a reputation and a brand that serves us: By serving others with integrity.
4: Develop your own style.
Not (necessarily) clothing style, but we’ll get to that later.
This is about style of conduct. Delivery. Work. Communication. Interaction.
Strong brands are not created by copying someone else, they’re created through innovation and originality, which take courage to express fully.
Developing your own style is about figuring out what works for YOU through trial and error. It poses its own challenges through being willing to show up in full alignment with your identity regardless of what anyone else thinks of it. (See point #2).
Think about how you want to speak, walk, dress, treat others…think about those you’ve seen in the past who inspired you or left an impression based on their own personal “brand.”
These are the ingredients to beginning the recipe of YOUR own personal style that people will remember YOU for.
5: Value purpose over profit.
If you’re building a brand because you want to make money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
Money is your reward for the positive impact you make in the world.
With that money, you can make even more of a positive impact.
If, however, you lead with the desire to make money, a few things will happen:
- People will see through you immediately.
- Challenges will throw you off course because you don’t have a strong enough internal REASON for the work.
- Even if you do make money, you’ll lack fulfillment due to absence of purpose in your mission.
Strong brands don’t succeed by chasing or measuring their worth monetarily.
Notice I said strong BRANDS, not strong COMPANIES.
Your brand is your reputation, and all of the money in the world won’t save you from all ofthe bridges you’ve burned.
6: Craft your story.
You already have a story. We all do.
How did you get here? What struggles did you overcome? What challenges have you faced? What awards have you won? How many times has your heart been broken?
Stories are compelling, and they help us tell people who we are.
Great brands have great stories. Stories of triumph over adversity. Stories of broke founders being evicted 100 times before making a billion dollars. Stories of fairytale romances sparked from the ashes of broken hearts.
To put it bluntly: Stories sell.
Crafting the most compelling and emotionally relatable way to tell YOUR story is what will draw people to your brand, your service, your product, or YOU.
Whether it’s in your dating life or in your career, you are selling yourself as the best option for the “buyer.”
You don’t do that just by listing the best things about you. You do it by telling a story that illustrates them.
7: Showcase your greatness.
You’re the best? Prove it.
No matter how much someone likes you, how well you tell your story, how fancy your new logo is…people will only hire you if you’ve proven that you can actually do the job.
This is why creative professionals have portfolios. It’s why salespeople tout their closing rates. It’s why race teams display their trophies.
To show they can do the work.
It’s NOT about bragging or telling people how great you are, nobody likes a showboat.
It’s about delivering results for THEM. The customer. The love interest. The client.
People want to know what they are going to get out of this, and great brands know how to communicate that from a customer-centric perspective.
The same goes for your personal brand. A track record of success in doing XYZ is how people will know you’ve got your act together.
If Rolls Royce’s cars fell apart after 10,000 miles, they wouldn’t be Rolls Royce.
8: Get media coverage.
Let’s face it, credibility and authority are built by showing your expertise to as many people as possible, and one of the best ways to do that is through media appearances.
Every single logo I’ve added to my repertoire has reinforced my positioning in my industry.
Reach out to publications and editors. Make friends with publicists. Find your way into high profile events. Get onto Clubhouse and network with others in your industry.
As you begin getting invited for interviews and quotes you’ll gain more public attention on your work and your brand. You can become a household name overnight with the right media placement(s), but you’ll only get the national or international exposure if everything else about your brand and experience is in alignment.
You may finesse your way through the door, but only real substance will keep you in the room.
9: IMAGE MATTERS.
I said earlier that eventually I’d get to the way you dress, and here we are.
This is about your general overall appearance in the marketplace, through.
NOT whether or not you’re good looking.
NOT whether or not you’re in shape.
NOT what race or gender you are.
I’m talking about QUALITY, and quality is a choice.
Quality in the imagery you post, quality in the vocabulary you use, quality in the services you provide.
It doesn’t matter what style you dress in, but it DOES matter if the clothes are dirty or torn.
It DOES matter if the photos on your website or social media look professional, or like a 5 year old took them.
It DOES matter if your logo looks professionally designed, or if it was done in MS Paint.
The REALITY of life is that people judge things visually, and a strong brand requires a strong image that accurately represents it.
There is a reason why Rolls Royce doesn’t use Comic Sans font.
10: Have fun.
The world is stuffy enough as it is. The last thing it needs is another person who’s trying to fit into the mold because they think that’s what a client or partner wants.
Building YOUR brand is your chance to step out into the spotlight and make some waves. It’s about being bold, and bright, and unique. It’s about creating something that would never exist if you weren’t here.
BEING a brand (like Tom Ford or Coco Chanel) doesn’t happen by being boring, or uninspired, or stale.
It happens because you had the courage to stand up and show the world who you are, what you stand for, and how you can make it a better place for everyone who is around you.
That’s how a brand lasts longer than the person who created it.
Building a personal brand is not for those who need external validation or who want to stay in the shadows.
It’s for the people who KNOW they are meant for more than being stuck into the box society built for them.
It’s for those who know that no stories were written in history about people who followed the crowd.
It’s for those who’ve lived their own story, and are ready to use it to make the world a better place.
James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
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