Branding is often found to be associated with businesses and organizations. And that is for good reason.
Businesses have to constantly turn a profit by making sales. This means they have to employ both short-term marketing strategies such as promotions and long-term strategies such as building a brand. It is for this same reason that individuals need to start building their personal brands.
You may say people don’t need to market themselves. That may be true for your current situation but if you intend on being at the top of your game and industry in the coming years, you would need to buckle up and start building your brand.
Humans have been marketing themselves ever since. Even branding is no new to us. We have simply focused on its business and corporate benefits. To get the “hottest girl” you need to be “Popular” as the movies usually portray. These days, to get the job, you must have more than qualifications.
To get the deal, perhaps as an independent consultant, you need more than just knowledge and expertise. You need to be trustworthy. They need to know your story and to understand what you stand for.
This doesn’t mean qualifications, expertise and knowledge aren’t important. Truth is, we have moved beyond them. This can be attributed to the era we find ourselves in.
We are in the era of the 3 Cs
We are in an era of tremendous complexity, fast change and overwhelming competition. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier or better.
We are advancing at a rate that wasn’t precedented. Who would’ve thought that humans would be able to download entire seasons of shows in minutes or even seconds? Decades ago, in Ghana, one only needed to complete their tertiary education and a job would await them.
Now here’s a true story. Organizations literally had to go to the tertiary institutions to grab the best. As an organisation, you couldn’t risk waiting. There was a mad rush for talent.
A few decades later, more than 60,000 graduates leave our tertiary institutions annually but it is estimated that only 10% of these energetic and brilliant young people get jobs within a year of their graduation. The report by ISSER says that it may take the remaining 90% decade to secure jobs.
This disruption in the Ghanaian job market took only a few decades. Taking an exponential disruption in the coming years would mean even less and less getting jobs.
The essence of this era is that only the best of the best are those who win. Have you ever seen someone who is genuinely good at what they do yet they get little to no attention? Perhaps someone is getting all the attention and business when they aren’t half as good as the other person.
Being able to build a brand that establishes you as an expert, thought leader and knowledgeable will automatically help you get better jobs, business sales and gain recognition for what you do such as awards.
Why Personal Branding is important for everyone.
The facts are that you already have a brand. Whether you are building that brand or not, is a different question. But the question whether you have a brand or not is settled. We are humans. And as humans, we have perceptions of our friends, family, colleagues and other acquaintances.
When your name is mentioned in a room in your absence, what is the general agreement about you? Can it be said that you are excellent? Whatever is said is your brand.
Your brand is simply the perception others carry about you. Therefore, it is a mind thing. It isn’t what they tell you in your face (even though sometimes) but rather what they say when you aren’t around.
This is important because when they are considering your promotion, you wouldn’t be there. But your brand will. But what will your brand say? What will be the consensus about you?
Due to the kind, polite and agreeable nature of most Ghanaians, it would be difficult to get direct feedback about your brand.
As most people won’t tell it to your face. That makes it even more difficult for you. And at the same time easier for you to have a bad reputation because few will be willing to confront you. Hence, rumors could quickly become facts even though they are the wrong portrayal of your personality.
Take Charge of Your Personal Brand: Tell Your Story
Time to take your personal brand into your own hands. That’s the only way to take back your story, change the narrative by revealing the real you. As Chimamanda Ngozi puts it perfectly, “Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author.
Stand Out: From the Noise, Competition and as Authority
The digital and traditional spaces are all full of activity. Advertisements are everywhere. Everyone is trying to get attention for one thing or the other. Job seekers need attention to get jobs. Businesses need to get attention to make sales. All of this activity creates a noisy environment where it is difficult to get heard.
A strong brand gives you that attention on a relatively silver platter. This is because radio stations, TV stations, websites, etc will constantly seek your opinion on topics related to your industry. This will give you a free audience without having to put in a lot of effort.
Standing out means being the preferred choice. When advice is needed, you are sure to be called. This gives you leverage and not the other way round.
Gain More Attention, Visibility, and Audience
To be able to have an impact, you first need an audience. The brand-building process will help you to gain an audience so you can gain the needed visibility and attention.
When people listen to you when you talk, you are considered an influencer. If your opinion matters to a lot of people, you are an influencer. If you actively contribute knowledge in an industry, you are a thought leader.
Aiming for these statuses will automatically gain your attention and visibility as people in need of your expertise will actively pursue you until they find you.
Establish Yourself as an Expert, thought leader and the “Go to Guy” in Your Industry
Even though a strong brand doesn’t always have to be a leader or expert, it sure has its benefits.
Ghana needs experts in a lot of areas if you ask me. The younger generation needs guidance and resourceful knowledge on which to build their lives.
Being an industry leader is when you can deliver value to lots of people through the insights you share.
The benefits of having a strong personal brand are immense that if you are to go greatly well in the coming years, you would have to start building yours now.
Steps to Getting Started with Building Your Personal Brand
Answer the question; Who are you?
Brands alone do not have much power or influence. A logo means less than the story behind the logo. People don’t happy about a certain brand because of its logo but the story and the emotions it invokes in them.
Think about these things when answering the question of your identity- What Do I Know?
- What do I do?
- What Do I want to be known for?
- Who does this matter to?
- How do I help people or provide them with value?
These are a few questions that will help you to come up with a story of who you are.
Why is this important? When you are interviewed, you will need to briefly explain who you are and what you do.
Being able to provide such a precise and powerful story in a few lines will save you time. It will also give you the needed consistent you need. Brands are built over long periods.
Translate that into an identity
It doesn’t end with answering a bunch of questions. You need to create an identity from that story. You may have gone through a life-changing situation, which could be good or bad. But that situation or experience set you on a path to make sure everyone has a better experience.
Translating it to a more practical example would be “I struggled as a child to understand what my teachers taught me. I was dyslexic hence my unique challenges. I created the unique learning system for dyslexic children to learn better in their own way without having to lose their self-esteem that I had”.
Here the identity is an inventor who created a system to help a group of people. For someone else, it could be starting a YouTube channel dedicated to that group of people. For another person, they could become advocates for change in the education system to cater to such children.
Build a PR strategy around that identity
PR will make sure your message is head. With new media, you have free social media. You can build a blog, start a podcast, etc.
You could also rely on traditional radio, newspaper and TV to get your message head. Remember that your story and your identity make a good message.
Building a brand is by no way an easy task. But remember we are preparing for the future. This era is already complicated and competitive enough. You need to stand out and be the preferred brand. To do this, you must be willing to do what others are not willing to do. Patience is a ley virtue in building a strong brand. These are the basics of brand building which have been shared here. I made 2 podcast episodes on the topic of building a powerful personal brand. Feel free to listen at your own time.
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