Personal Branding: Why It’s Important, How to do it Well and What it Can Lead To

Published by Jodi McLean in Marketing on November 21, 2019

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the rise of artificial intelligence and our digital connectedness are making people and personal interaction less relevant. These revolutionary times are only making people more visible and highly searchable. People will always want to do business with people rather than machines. It’s human nature —I can’t stand it when I call for customer service and can’t reach a human. Automation isn’t always efficient or pleasant, right?

The opportunity for high-performing individuals to rise above a sea of professional mediocrity and stand out as thought leaders has never been greater. If you want to be acknowledged as someone who is “known, liked and trusted” you need to understand the importance of personal branding.

Personal branding, just like corporate branding, is both strategic and true. When defining a corporate brand, a list of the company’s ethos or maxims may be developed to help define and guide the corporate culture. When developing a personal brand, a list of personal ethos and guiding principles are laid out and lived out, through day-to-day actions. Decisions are made, thoughtful communications are shared, partnerships are formed and celebrated, and activities are chosen according to these guiding principles.

When building a personal brand, those who “get it” will spend time and effort marketing themselves like they would market their company, product or service. One of my favorite personal maxims is “there is no place for humility in business.” The best personal brands embrace the value that they have built and they celebrate it out loud.

Our Chief Digital Officer, Chris Jenkins once said “If you can’t do an impression of someone, then they haven’t made an impression.” What he means by that, is the people who are winning the personal branding game are well known for what they stand for. Elon Musk is known for innovation without limits. Oprah is known for female empowerment. Gordon Ramsey, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Colin Kaepernick, Serena  Williams. Read these names, and larger than life personalities and strong principles come to mind for each. That’s powerful personal branding.

Personal branding for business leaders and employees has never been more important than in our current collaborative age. Thanks to Google, business owners and employees are constantly visible to the public. Fundamentally, people want to do business with people who share their values.

It happens in politics as well as in business — openly sharing one’s values and guiding principles will often polarize the audience. At least it will if it’s done right. Back to the examples listed, a majority of these highly-successful people are extremely polarizing. Oprah doesn’t likely appeal to alpha males. Gordon Ramsey doesn’t likely appeal to Catholics. But for those who do connect with their ethos, they connect big-time. And it goes to show that one doesn’t have to be “everything to everyone” and liked by all in order to be highly successful. Actually, precisely the opposite is true. The best personal brands are always faithful to who they are, at their core, no matter the opportunity in front of them.

A strong personal brand opens doors. The result is that the right opportunities show up rather than being chased. The right partners want to align with a strong personal brand. The best talent wants to work for a person with a powerful brand — Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson likely have top talent clamoring to work for them. They don’t need to recruit. The right clients don’t mind paying a premium for a stellar product or service that is backed by a person who they align with ethically and intrinsically.

Business leaders and employees should give thought to how they represent as a face of the company. At the end of the day, all we really have to show for ourselves is our words and our actions. To take the first step into building a powerful personal brand, one just needs to ask the internal question “what do you want to be known for?”

Want to know more? Connect with Jodi today for your consultation on Personal Branding and what The Symphony Agency can do for you.

Jodi McLean is a published writer and industry expert. Check out her article Where Is the Value in an Athlete’s Personal Brand? in the 2019 NCAA March Madness Final Four edition of Rebound magazine, and her book, INTRAPRENEUR, written for employees looking to elevate their personal brands and increase their professional value, available on Amazon:

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