Most professionals today understand that they have a personal brand and that they are in charge of understanding, managing and adapting their brand. But this can be a somewhat daunting process if you don’t know how to evaluate the effectiveness of your brand. Here are three factors that an effective personal brand must be:
1) Authentic: You have to be you. While you should always look for strategic ways to adapt and elevate your personal brand, it is critical to remember that you must be yourself or people will see through it and know something is “off.” We all know people who we think are “trying too hard” or simply don’t seem sincere – they might be trying to project a personal brand that is not authentic. This definitely affects their credibility even if we can’t identify exactly what’s wrong.
So be sure that the personal brand you are putting out there is true to who you are, but be prepared to make small, subtle changes. If you are a naturally quiet, reserved and introspective person, for example, you can’t become an outgoing, outspoken and lively person. But, you may need to speak up a bit more, truly engage with colleagues and take a few more risks in order to elevate your personal brand and achieve your career goals.
2) Distinct: Creating a brand that distinguishes you from others is probably the most challenging aspect of this process. Many of us simply blend in with all the other smart, talented and hard-working professionals. Identifying and communicating what makes you different is difficult, but it is also critical. You can’t simply rely on being good at your job and a nice person, because that won’t set you apart.
You have to find out what does distinguish you – is it your ability to solve problems with creative solutions? Is it your outstanding experience in leading teams through challenges? Is it your skill at making everyone feel valued and motivated to do their best? As you can see, none of these characteristics focuses on technical skills or job title. Instead, they focus on how you work with others, and the experience others have interacting you.
3) Consistent: In order to have a strong, believable personal brand it must be consistent. For example, you cannot present yourself one way with your peers and the people that work for you, but present a different brand to your superiors and customers. Likewise, you cannot separate personal and professional brands. Certainly we all are more casual and relaxed with family and friends then we are in the workplace. But the essence of your brand must be the same, or it will cause confusion and limit your credibility.