A stellar personal brand can help your business in its strategy to survive beyond coronavirus’s tremendous socioeconomic impact. With everyone scrambling to guarantee their next pay cheque through the worrisome struggles COVID-19 has brought with it, global brandbuilder Liezel Van Der Westhuizen offers up some vital guidelines on why building up your personal brand should be your highest priority for surviving and thriving beyond this period.
If there was ever a time for executives to focus their teams into substantially building the company’s reputation and digital footprint, it would be now. In an era of unpredictability, when consumers have time to be even more discerning in their choices, and are turning to authentic and inspiring companies they can trust, a strong employee and company brand is crucial.
The most established, memorable, and coveted personal brands of the world, think of their brand as a means of delivering value to someone’s life – to contribute in a unique way. It’s about people, and not product – that’s the first step of your brands mission towards success. If you are still wondering about the wonders of personal branding working for you, here are the answers to all your burning questions:
What is personal branding?
In its truest sense: personal branding is the effort to engage the world while wielding your authenticity, for mutually beneficial results. Your personal brand cannot thrive unless it presents a measure of value to this world. An effective personal brand may help you realise your dreams, but it should also manifest a positive impact on others, as well as driving business results.
Personal branding is not an equation where glossy images on a slick website will automatically equal money. Personal branding is not the superficiality of selling just anything trendy, or influencing consumers without direction. People often develop trust in brands, when they balance a combination of experience, consistency in quality, and unique insights delivered with a sense of authority. Therefore, own your journey, and sell that expertise – that is excellent personal branding.
What are some benefits of building a personal brand?
- You are more visible online.
When you invest time and effort into personal branding, you learn the power of the virtual world. One lesson to learn from Millennials, is banking on online engagement – they have turned engaging online, into an art form for business. Evolving in business means learning from those around you, even if you choose not to enact their exact strategy. Take the best parts of the Millennial community’s brand of business and become more accessible, and more visible, to your online audience. People should be able to find you with a simple Google search, as well as interact with you on your various marketing channels.
- You can transform as you learn, and as the world changes
Becoming more visible with a personal branding strategy can be scary for many. You feel exposed; and worry about making a mistake that could hurt the businesses’ reputation. There is a worry for things you have done in the past, anxiety about the actions of the present, and there is the natural apprehension for the future.
Just take it slow and allow yourself to be hopeful, and secure, in the brand you create in the now. Note what you want to share with your online audience, the different perspectives others might take (as well as anticipating their subsequent questions), and always remember to respect your own boundaries as well as those of your loved ones when sharing.
As language, culture, and traditions change with time, so to will the brains and bodies that make up the consumers of the world. As long as you constantly have an eye on who your target market is, and what they are up to, you can always adapt your personal brand towards lasting success.
- It allows you to stand tall and stand out from the crowd
The Forbes Coaches Council, comprising the finest career coaches and leading business coaches, have several insights they agree make for creative tactics for getting your brand standing out.
One takeaway from their incredibly generous list of strategic branding tactics, is resident coach Rosalee Laws affirming that the DNA of your brand should not be able to be copied providing you hold strong and clear to the personalized story (language, and tone too) that drives your business vision and mission.
Your story (and all your messages across platforms, says fellow council coach Parul Agrawal) should be consistent, so as to captivate people enough to maintain permanent residency in their minds.
One of the most powerful branding tactics I emphasise to my clients at The Giraffe Academy, is developing the human element. Heather Pinay, of this esteemed (fee-based) invitation-only organisation, reminds us that: “Our clients are human and will relate to the humans behind the brand.”
- You have a much higher perceived value
Co-founder and head of product at BrandYourself, Peter Kristler, says this of personal brands: “A highly successful personal brand makes you the best – no, only – solution to a certain group’s problems. Word of mouth will propel your brand forward and create enthusiasm for what you do, bringing in references, referrals, job offers and testimonials.”
Therefore, as your personal brand develops, people will start thinking about you on an emotional level (as a brand), not simply an intellectual level (as a job title).
Be the Coca Cola, the Beyoncé, or even the Mercedes Benz of your industry. See, there may be singers better than you on a technical level, or cars faster, and drinks more decadent than you – but if you endear yourself to someone’s need for comfort and safety, their want for pure entertainment, or peoples yearning for feel-good childhood nostalgia, then you will always be considered the best to those who count towards your bottom line.
Kristler also states that: “Your personal brand is a competitive edge that separates you from your competition in the minds of potential employers and customers. The more you build your brand, the more you elevate yourself above your peers, and the less you have to work to convince people you are the solution to their problems.”
Keep this wisdom close, because using it means people will connect more deeply with your brand, increasing your value to them, and allowing you to charge more for your services. In addition, being actively involved in your niche and creating ‘credibility boosters’ (like original, useful on-brand content) establishes you as an expert, driving demand for you, and allowing you to work less and make more.
- You can leverage your network
Have you ever been asked for someone’s number or email because they would “like to talk to them about something”? Whether you are asked for directions, opinions, or contact details, in that situation you are in possession of something valuable. Should you take the journey towards towering over your competition using the vital business component of personal branding, you will find the network of people you engage with, growing. Your name and what people sum you up as, will be a verbal (or even virtual) business card passed around. This can often raise your prominence, and you will find your name being mentioned as the “go-to” person for that field.
And as you meet more people through your branding journey, you will realise the incredibly vast field of opportunity the online world presents. In his Medium.com article, titled ‘Leveraging Your Personal Brand in the Massive Knowledge Economy’, Yoav Vilner goes straight for the heart of your guide to branding online, saying: “Your brand begins with clarifying what you’re good at, finding the people who need what you have to offer, and connecting with them on the platforms and channels where they are most likely to engage.”
Whether through online conversation or networking events, understand that network expansion is integral for your personal brand, as well as for establishing yourself in business today.
- It makes you and your business more relatable and builds trust
Forbes contributor Goldie Chan (who explores personal branding and storytelling in the digital age) says that people buy brands and invest in people, rather than simply purchasing products; 82 percent of buyers are noted to be more willing to place their trust in a company when the staff and the CEO are active on social media.
- Positions yourself as a thought-leader
A personal brand will always make for a firm foundation on which to guide your business vision and mission. When you have gone through the process of developing your personal brand, then you will come to a realisation that you might be a gatekeeper of some knowledge which others may find value in, as you go about your branded business.
Dillon Kivo, a Public Relations and personal branding expert, editor in chief of Kivo Daily and a contributor to Forbes.com, expands on the unique position and value of the gatekeeper of industry knowledge, emphasising thought-leadership as, “a strategic move aimed at showcasing your expertise in the industry. Your personal brand is what holds your thought leadership in place”.
So, if you choose to position yourself as a thought-leader, understand that you give, in as much as you get returns. Depending on the circumstances and strategy, being a thought-leader can pave your way into the minds of the consumer – as calculable and rewarding as the qualifications you whip out, or the credit card you pay with.
Results take time
Establishing what you want to be known for, is just one insight you can use to power up your personal brand. Another business tip to hold close to during this time, is that: like all good things in life, results take time. The most important thing you can do for successful longevity, is be consistent when you approach your personal brands.
Unlock the next level of your branding journey, with these 5 free insights I’ve recently dished out to great success for my Giraffe Brand Academy clients around the world.
Between the kernels of marketing and branding wisdom I write about regularly on The Giraffe Brand blog, and my midday Marketing Mondays’ sessions on Facebook and Instagram LIVE @LiezelOnline weekly, understand that you are being presented with a singular business opportunity to capitalise on the expertise of a renowned brand builder.
Liezel van der Westhuizen, who has a Masters in Business Communication, owns The Giraffe Brand Academy. Here, her mission as a personal brand builder is to assist clients to stick their necks out and cultivate their power to stand tall and be unique. This, she believes, is the key to marketplace success.
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