The relevance of personal branding & marketing
We are all branded whether we like it or not, and if you don’t take responsibility for branding and marketing yourself, others will do it for you.
Personal branding focuses on your uniqueness or your USP (unique selling proposition), how you position yourself relative to colleagues and competitors and how you are able to ‘package’ yourself in an authentic and noticeable way that makes you stand out.
There is a strong case for personal branding whether you are an entrepreneur or work in a corporate environment. When one thinks of one’s personal banking service or accounting firm, one generally thinks of one’s personal banker or accountant rather than the institution he or she represents.
Many people haven’t thought through what makes them unique and distinctive. What differentiates you from all the millions of other financial advisors, accountants or bankers out there? What makes you stand out from the clutter? If I own a corner café and you own a corner café, what’s going to make someone go to your corner café as opposed to mine?
Once you have identified your USP and established the type of personal brand you want to create, it’s important to ensure that you demonstrate the characteristics of your brand (your brand promise, as such) in everything you do.
The concept of positioning your brand is an important one. Personal branding can be likened to mental real estate (a concept that was first proposed by Peter Montoya), which seeks to find out which area in other peoples’ head you occupy.
People are always interested in the stories we tell about ourselves. When you talk about yourself, do you reflect your brand in the best possible light? How do you effectively demonstrate that your business experience positions you in the best possible way?
If you’ve given thought to your unique characteristics, the values that form the foundation of your brand, as well as ways in which you add measurable value, you are in a far better position to make yourself stand out. This is, however, only the first part of the process. Once you’ve defined and positioned your personal brand, you need to consider how to go out and market the brand in a way that is authentic and builds credibility.
Authenticity is so vital. Everything you do needs to tie up in terms of the message you’re giving about your brand. You can’t spend so much time on branding yourself and developing a fabulous positioning that you forget to deliver. Awesome brands always deliver.
Once you’ve created a personal brand, you need to focus on the five pillars of personal marketing: Learn how to create an awesome impression; build and protect your reputation; nurture and build relationships; embark on a personal visibility campaign and use others to promote word of mouth advertising about yourself.
Here are five top tips to build your brand:
Get feedback from others about how they perceive your brand.
Really understand your uniqueness and what makes you an asset to your business or organisation – play on this; build on it and communicate it consistently.
Determine whether you are memorable and what you can do to become more memorable. Make sure everything you do has a ‘unique’ touch. Take it a step further: understand what the unique aspects are of what you do that people will talk about.
Develop a story about yourself and how you got to where you are today. Ensure it is compelling and evokes an emotional reaction from others. This doesn’t mean being untruthful, it simply means learning which information to highlight and which unnecessary details to cut out.
Assess and develop your ‘online’ branding. Start off by Googling yourself and assessing the results. If you’re on facebook, ‘clean’ up – take off any unflattering or compromising pictures. Get active on LinkedIn, especially as it’s the largest professional social network available. Use the digital space to increase your visibility.
Donna Rachelson BA (Soc Work), Hons (Indus), MBA (Wits) is a business and marketing innovator with a passion for building people and businesses brands.
She has over 20 years of diverse experience in the fields of strategy, marketing and change management. Key positions held in her career include: Marketing Director for Nando’s; Marketing Director for the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants; Marketing Director for DNA Supply Chains; Project Manager Priority Banking at Standard Bank of South Africa and various management positions at African Explosives and Chemical Industries (AECI).
Donna obtained her BA (Social Work) degree and BA Honours in Industrial Social Work through the University of the Witwatersrand. She completed her MBA through Wits Business School (WBS). She has 10 years of lecturing experience and has lectured marketing on the MAP programme at WBS. She also offers keynote speeches on various topics and is an accomplished professional speaker.
Donna is founder of Donna Rachelson Branding & Marketing, a consultancy focused on offering holistic marketing solutions to entrepreneurial businesses; creator of Branding & Marketing YOU and a founding Director of the PQ Institute that offers the Leadership Stamina Programme. She is also author of the best selling book Branding & Marketing YOU, the first South African based personal branding and marketing book.
Donna is married and has a son and a daughter. She is passionate about assisting entrepreneurs to market their businesses and often performs this work as a community service. She is an avid snow skiier, has a keen interest in the bush and is trying her hand at photography and golf.