I know what you’re thinking,”I don’t need a brand, I’m not selling anything.” It may be true, you may not be selling anything, but a personal brand is so much more than that. Some people use the term personal brand as something professionals need for their online presence. It’s a way of marketing yourself. Some people believe a personal brand is only about your online presence. Some people believe it takes work to hone an image. And they may be right, but only if the personal brand you’re creating isn’t true to who you are as a person.
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is a way of identifying yourself based on your personal values, skills, and personality. Think of it as a guiding principal. A personal brand is partly how you present yourself to others, and also partly how others perceive you.
What! You’re telling me what other people think matters?
Well, kind of. It’s up to you whether or not what someone else thinks matters. Is the person expressing an opinion important to you? No? Then it doesn’t matter. Does the opinion fit within your own personal view of who you are? Yes? Then it doesn’t matter. If the other person is either important to you, or their view of you doesn’t work with who you want to be, then their opinion does matter. To an extent. I’ll get into that more later.
A personal brand helps you make decisions. A personal brand shows you when a decision needs to be made.
Are you the type of person who chooses to be vegan for ethical reasons? But sometimes you choose to eat cheese because it tastes so good? That choice goes against your personal brand – and it decreases the weight your personal brand carries. When others prepare food for you, they may be less likely to honour your choices, because, they think, your personal brand doesn’t always matter to you. But if you’re a vegan for ethical reasons but also kind, attentive to others, want to be accommodating and inclusive then you may choose to eat cheese at another person’s home because the relationship is more important than cheese.
As a new parent we are faced with choices – are we going to wear our baby, use a stroller, use a daycare or stay home? The answer to these questions only matters if you know why you’ve chosen them. Babywearing is great, but it is a tool, not a reason. Why are certain choices important? Your personal brand lets you know and guides you from one life point to the next.
A personal brand encompasses the things you do for yourself and others, how you talk, whether you workout or rock climb, it’s about where you spend your money, or not. A personal brand is about how you treat yourself and others, it’s about how you approach challenges.
Why Do I Need a Personal Brand?
There are many reasons having a personal brand is a good idea. In the business world you’d be told you need one to keep yourself open to opportunities, to help yourself stand out. The reason is very similar in your personal life, having a clear personal brand can open you up to possibilities and help you stand out, but the biggest reason to create a personal brand is to provide a clear path for yourself.
You’ve been dating someone for a few months and you’re wondering whether to take the relationship to the next level. Your personal brand can help guide you to the decision that works best for you.
You’ve just gotten married and you’re trying to decide whether to have a baby or not – or – you have one baby already, and you want to know whether to have a second. The way you define yourself and what’s important to you, your personal brand, can help you with these types of decisions.
Maybe you’re a mama who stays home with three kiddos. Having a personal brand allows you to maintain a sense of direction, peace, and meaning in your life. Because a personal brand is how you define yourself. It’s what’s important to you. That means if creating art is important to you, you’re not going to give up art in order to raise children. Even if children are also important. You’ll find a way for the things that matter to you, and let go of the things that don’t matter.
Okay, I Need a Personal Brand, How do I make one?
The first step to defining your personal brand is very simple. Ask yourself, “What’s important to me?”
Write it down. Be sure to include values and personality traits as well as experiences or relationships that matter to you.
Why are these important to you? Write that down also.
Is being funny important to you? Family?
The next step is to decide whether who you present to the world is the same person you wish to present to the world.
Is kindness important to you, but the comments you leave on Facebook are dripping in shame? Or maybe you value spirituality but don’t make time to pray/meditate.
Define who you want to be. Is it the same person you’ve been? If not, what can you do to shift to who you’d prefer to be?
Once you’ve defined who you want to be, it’s time to live life according to your brand. This means you use these guiding principals when making decisions. A person who values themselves as kind will choose to be kind on all platforms and in person. A person who values integrity will double check the validity of something before posting to Facebook.
Be the person you define yourself as. At all times, and recognize the times you aren’t being true to yourself.
What if I don’t follow my personal brand?
Choosing not to follow your personal brand is a number one cause of those internal voices that lead to guilt and self destructive messages.
When we don’t stay true to ourselves, we beat ourselves up. But if you’ve never even defined who you are, then you don’t know when you’re not being true. It’s an endless cycle of shame and guilt where the negative voices gain a stronger hold over us.
Following your personal brand is also important to how other people view you. For instance, if someone sees and hears you yelling at someone else, they won’t believe you’re kind unless there’s other much stronger evidence to show you are kind.
What they think doesn’t necessarily matter, if what they think is either in line with your personal values, or unrelated. If you value creativity and kindness and someone says you’re weird, then it doesn’t matter. Weird and creative go together. But if you say you’re kind and someone says you’re mean. Then it’s important to know why and to find ways to shift the way you act to better stay in alignment with who you want to be.
The key is you are the one to decide what is important, you use other people’s opinions as a gauge to your level of success being the person you want to be.