Six Easy Steps to Success with Personal Branding

- | 77 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Work & Career

A sign post with brand and other aspects of personal branding shown as sign boards

This is a guest post from Kathi Miller-Miller, who was one of the winners of the Aha!NOW RaffleCopter guest post giveaway held in August. In this post, Kathi guides you how to develop your personal brand and achieve success.

I’m a fan of continual learning and self-improvement.  In fact, one of my favorite quotes is “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.

Perhaps it’s the farmer in me, but I love the analogy of our personal and professional lives to that of nature.

Think of it like this:  The minute you stop working to improve yourself, your success will start to fade.

And while you may be doing a lot of things right, my guess is that you haven’t paid close enough attention to your personal brand.

Admittedly, there are many different ingredients in the recipe to find success, but giving focus to your personal brand can take your career from “blue plate special” status to culinary masterpiece!

What is a Personal Brand

Much like national companies portray a brand and promise certain benefits, your personal brand carries the same attributes.

It summaries who you are, how you approach your work and the expertise you provide.  In essence, it’s your reputation.

While the concept is presently experiencing resurgence in popularity, the term itself is not new.

In fact, it was first introduced almost 80 years ago by Napoleon Hill in his book, “Think and Grow Rich

Why is it Important

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of personal branding, you may think it’s only important for business owners.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Employees, students, bloggers, volunteers and entrepreneurs all benefit from managing their reputation.

In today’s competitive and global business environment, it’s no longer a question of “if” you have one…but rather if you actively create and execute your brand.

Like it or not, bosses, co-workers, instructors and fellow bloggers already have a perception of you.

And while it would be nice if everyone in your circle of influence was a raving fan of your abilities and shared them freely with others, unfortunately, that just simply isn’t reality.

So you have a choice.  You can either control that perception by developing and executing a strong personal brand or leave others to their own devices.

I don’t know about you, but personally I feel my reputation is far too important to give up that control.

You see, by developing and delivering your brand image, you manage what others perceive as your strengths and abilities.

Regardless of your walk in life, creating and managing your personal brand will improve your success.

And while it can seem squishy and a bit overwhelming to get started, like many complicated recipes, it’s really as simple as following a few steps.  You just need to get started.

Steps to Develop

A lady climbing the stairs

1. Define your Appeal

The goal here is to define what people get from working with you instead of someone else.  And arguably, in the early stages of your brand development, it can be a scary task.

But take a deep breath and stay with me on this.  It’s really as simple as asking a few trusted colleagues, your boss or even clients to share what they value about you.

The examples below can help you develop a framework, but in order to make your appeal unique, it’s important that you craft statements that are appropriate to your efforts.

  • The 3 adjectives that people use to describe me are:____________, _____________ and _________________.
  • People count on me to be ________________ and _________________.
  • I love it when I can__________________________________________.
  • I am happiest when I can help others _______________________.

2. Name your Niche

While the thought of casting a wide net appears initially intriguing, it’s difficult to be a master to everyone.

Instead, your branding efforts will be more enthusiastically embraced by others if you can target an audience or niche where you provide something special…perhaps even unparalleled.

Complete the sentences below to help you with this step:

  • My boss can always count on me to hit a home run when I work on _____________.
  • Everyone comes to me when they look for information on _____________.
  • I do _____________________ better than most people I know.
  • I specialize by helping companies in the ________________ .

3. Create a Compelling Statement

Much like large corporate brands have just a few advertising seconds to “sell,” it’s important you create a concise statement telling people what they can expect when they work with you.

This statement is really a combination of the “Appeal” and “Niche” responses that you defined in the previous steps.

Your compelling statement should become an integral part of your introduction when you meet new folks.  Consequently, this will be the most visible result of your brand.

Below are just a few ideas to help get your creative juices flowing:

  • I combine ______________ and _________________to deliver ________________.
  • I will help you to __________________________________.
  • I have the unique ability to___________________________.
  • I specialize in helping my company_______________________.

4. Develop a Strategy

 

Person playing chess to learn the strategy of success

Once you have crafted your message, it’s time to plan your approach.  It’s important you make an intentional decision on how to spread the message of your brand.

Just a little over a decade ago, your options were likely limited to sharing your abilities with those in physical proximity to you.

However, with 19% of US employees now engaging in work remote activities and the ever increasing global e-commerce platform, there is simply much to consider.

  • Include Social Media. Regardless of your focus or specialty, it’s likely that digital will be one of the foundational blocks of your brand strategy. And in fact, your question of social for your strategy isn’t really one of “if”….but rather one of “where.”

The channels are plentiful and each has unique appeal and following.  As you work to develop a strategy, think about your brand and which channel best fits the persona for your unique abilities.

  • Leverage influencers. Your ability to identify ambassadors for your brand is another critical component of your strategy. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, an influencer is someone who is respected and followed by others.

A good example of this might be Michael Jordan with the Nike brand.  His image (and the respect he commands) has become almost one with the brand.

Now realistically, you may not be able to snag Michael Jordan as your influencer, but you can find those that command the respect and following of those in your industry.

Your strategy should include the names of these folks and specifically how you plan to make them brand ambassadors.

  • Remember your niche. While your brand will undoubtedly grow and morph with time, it’s important that you remain true to the niche you create.

Realistically, you may be able to flex a bit within your target group, but it’s likely you will lose some momentum by trying to serve multiple masters.

So for example, if you specialize in helping small businesses improve their SEO ratings you may partner with everything from plumbers to hair stylists, but you wouldn’t market your brand to large corporations.

  • Stay true to your brand. The opportunities for brand promotion are simply limitless. While you should aggressively promote your persona, it’s vitally important that you remain true to the brand you create.

For example, if your brand promotes “personal interaction,” then employing an email only strategy would be in conflict with your brand.

5. Execute, Execute, Execute!

Many would say the hardest part of your “brand journey” is over; however, I would disagree.  According to Entrepreneur magazine, the average adult attention span is only 8 seconds.

You see, most fail at this step, not because of the difficulty but rather because of the determination required.

The execution step requires tenacity and the results (aka completion of a step) don’t carry the visibility and sense of accomplishment that creating your brand did.

However without putting your plan into action you stand little chance of experiencing success.  So dig deep and make a commitment to actively implement the plan you create.

In order to increase your success with the execution step, you will find it helpful to set some short, mid-point and long-term goals in your strategy.  And then measure your success at each point.

6. Adjust

Nothing in your personal or professional life has a finite point and your Brand Persona is no different.  This is simply not a “once and done” endeavor.

In order to achieve the greatest success, you must continually evaluate and adjust your branding efforts.

Perhaps your industry has changed and you have expertise in a completely new field.  Or maybe you have a new boss at work that is pushing the team in new directions.

Regardless of the specifics, much like a coach may change some plays in the second half, you will likely need to adjust the approach you initially created for your personal brand.

With any recipe, following the steps is only part of creating a culinary masterpiece.  It’s also critical that you have the proper ingredients.  And there are a few key things that must be included to make your brand successful!

So be sure to watch for my post next week on my blog, where I’ll wrap up this topic by discussing the “8 Key Elements in Your Personal Brand.”

Share Your Thoughts:

Have you consciously worked towards creating a personal branding? What branding successes or struggles have you experienced?

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos



Show Comments

77 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Jennifer Kennedy

    November 18, 2014 at 1:56 am

    Hey Harleena!!!

    I know it’s been forever since I’ve been around to your blog. I’ve been super duper busy with work travels. So, I hope you’ve been doing well.

    Kathi, this post is wonderful!!

    I LOVE this post as I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to differentiate my website. I’m thinking of doing a redesign and really getting it to a place that I enjoy and that I can help others.

    So, previously I have not consciously worked through creating a brand although it’s definitely something I’m going to do now — and be more deliberate about. These are super tips.

    • Harleena Singh

      November 18, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Hi Jennifer,

      No worries at all, and I can well understand what you mean, having gone through the same phase lately. I guess that equates the situation for both of us. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by even though you are busy, and glad you liked Kathi’s post. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    • Kathi Miller

      November 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’m sorry to hear your work schedule has been a little crazy but glad you took the time and opportunity to visit Aha!NOW today and check out my post!

      As they say timing is everything and if you are considering a website redesign, the topic of branding will certainly be critical to many of your decisions. I’m intrigued about your desire to help others and will check out your current site to learn what you are up to!

      I hope the tips help you as make a more “deliberate” effort (great choice of words by the way!) to create and maintain your brand.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and engage with me on this topic and good luck with your work schedule!

  2. Amiti

    November 17, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Kathi,

    Thanks for sharing your insights in personal branding – a topic that I personally can never get enough of. My biggest takeaway from what you have shared has to be in regards to adjusting – most of us tend to plan things out, but when it comes to making adjustments sometimes they don’t happen or they do, just too late.

    • Kathi Miller

      November 18, 2014 at 5:00 am

      HI Amiti,

      It’s always good to meet another fan on the topic of branding! And I love your observation that branding requires continual maintenance. While it might be nice if we could create it and then check it off the list, it’s simply not that easy. Changes in the market place, technology and shifts in our brands all require that we keep a constant eye on the ball!

      Thanks for the engagement and keep your passion for the topic of branding burning brightly!

  3. dawatech

    November 17, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    creating your own personal brand! hmmmm, i love this, i think i have gained a little more about personal brand. thks.

    • Kathi Miller

      November 18, 2014 at 4:55 am

      Dawatech,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and even more pleased that it made your world a little bigger!

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post and engage with me here on Aha!NOW 🙂

  4. usama hassan

    November 15, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    wow cool tips for all bloggers even for pro bloggers too. finding your niche is not very easy but once you find it then every thing is yours. just implement right techniques and you are successful.

    regards

    Usama

    • Kathi Miller

      November 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Usama,

      Thanks for the read and engagement on this post! And you are so right above the topic of branding being relevant for both newbies and those with great experience. As with any thing in life, it’s easy to lose focus and stray. We all (myself included) can benefit from a routine brand check up.

      Thanks so much for sharing and make it a great day!

  5. Carol Amato

    November 15, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Hello, Kathi and Harleena,

    It’s very nice to see you on Harleena’s blog, Kathi, and wonderful to meet you and congrats on winning the guest post giveaway. I really like the topic you chose for your guest article. 🙂

    Your reference to Think and Grow Rich is commendable because personal branding is not new, as you so well state.

    I really appreciate the examples you give under each main point, and the blanks for filling and are very helpful and a good visual way for folks to get more value from your content. So thanks for structuring and formatting your information this way. It helps a lot.

    Your point about leveraging influencers is something that folks are not utilizing nearly enough, in my opinion, so well done for including this.

    Your point about executing and adjusting is well taken, as I am constantly adjusting my brand to tweak it and perfect it even more.

    My goal is to get really good at finishing things, as that is a true indication of whether I am a good executor or not.

    Thank you so much for this thought-provoking article, I will be sharing with friends.

    Have a blessed weekend.
    – Carol

    • Kathi Miller

      November 15, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Carol,

      Thanks so much for taking the time from your busy schedule to give this article a read. Harleena and I both value your input and engagement!

      As for the reference to “Think and Grow Rich,” it was important to me for 2 reasons. First, as you indicate I think it’s important to credit the pioneers in the field but I also wanted to let readers know that it isn’t the “flavor of the month.”

      And I’m pleased that you liked the organizational approach I tried. Initially I worried that it may be an over simplification and perhaps an insult to readers; however, feedback has shown quite the opposite. Branding can be such a squishy topic that I thought it may be helpful.

      Regarding your comment on influencers I completely agree and must admit that it’s an area where I’m working to improve myself!

      Best of luck on your goal to get really good at finishing things, that’s an admirable one for sure! And yes ultimately it doesn’t matter how good our ideas are if we can’t execute! 🙂

      Thanks for the read and engagement and have a wonderful weekend as well!

      Kathi

  6. Kerry

    November 14, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    I had a little trouble, but I found the second part to this post and read it. I enjoyed and really wanted to add my comment, but not sure it worked. I apologize if it did not. I use a MacBook and VoiceOver and some blogs work better with that than others. I just didn’t want you to think I did not read it so I m mentioning it on here instead. I really do appreciate your expertise. I am still able to read your blog, but commenting just gave me a little trouble.

    • Kathi Miller

      November 15, 2014 at 5:53 am

      Kerry,

      Thanks so much for letting me know of your issue! Your comments came through just fine on the blog, but I’m sorry it was frustrating for you! So that I can try to trouble shoot, can you share with me what you were experiencing? Did you receive an error?

      I replied to your comment on the website so please check it out and let me know if you have any other issues. And I’m glad that you enjoyed the article!

  7. Jyoti Chauhan

    November 14, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Kathi,

    First I would like to say “congrats” on your winning and welcome on aha-now. It’s my pleasure to read awesome post on personal branding. Personal branding is very important for everybody in online world as well as offline world.

    I loved you way as you present.

    Regards,
    Jyoti Chauhan

    • Kathi Miller

      November 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Jyoti,

      Thanks so much for the warm welcome and congrats! It has been a wonderful opportunity to work with Harleena and it’s been great to engage with all of the other community members as well.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and you are right…the topic is critically important in our online and offline persona’s!

      Thanks again for giving it a read and for the engagement. Enjoy the weekend!

  8. Kerry

    November 14, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Have you posted that second part yet? I was looking forward to reading more. Thanks.

    • Kathi Miller

      November 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      Kerry,

      Greetings and glad you were looking forward to Part 2! Yes it is up on my website and you can find it by visiting my blog (kathimiller.com). While you might enjoy some other content on the site as well, the second part of the Personal Branding article will be the first post on my blog page.

      Thanks again for the follow up and be sure to let me know what you think!

  9. Neamat Tawadrous

    November 13, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Hi Kathi,

    It’s a pleasure meeting you here in this amazing community that Harleena created for all of us and congratulations on winning the contest for a guest post in AhaNow!!

    You brought up a very important topic “Personal Branding” and as you said, we all should pay close attention to our brand, because like it or not it is the world’s perception of us.

    Personal Branding creates a Positive and Lasting Image in the minds of the people,it Defines the purpose of our business, outlines what is our focus on and also shows the world that we are real people communicating our message through our brand.

    Thanks a lot Kathi for sharing such a great and important topic. Enjoy the rest of your week.

    Be Blessed,

    Neamat

    • Kathi Miller

      November 13, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Neamet,

      First thanks so much for the warm welcome to Aha!NOW and the congrats on winning the guest post! As you might expect, it has been a wonderful experience. The opportunity to work with Harleena has been fantastic however, I must admit that engaging with the community has been equally rewarding.

      I’m glad you also see the significance of personal branding. It is a topic that so many pay little attention to as they work to develop their expertise and resumes. While certainly branding at the corporate level is important, our personal brand is the one we carry with us wherever we go. So to me, it is of the highest importance!

      Thanks for taking time to read the post and engage and hope you enjoy the rest of your week as well!

  10. Victor Ome Umukoro

    November 13, 2014 at 4:29 am

    Hi,

    Goodday, I don’t really have much to say because you have just nailed it all.

    thank you very much

    • Kathi Miller

      November 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      Victor,

      Good Day to you as well! Thanks for the positive feedback and hope the article can benefit yourself or someone you know.
      Thanks for stopping by for the read and engagement!

  11. Sherman Smith

    November 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Hey Kathi,

    Nice to meet you Kathi! I’m glad that Harleena had you as this week’s guest blogger. Many people talk about personal branding, me included, but you really went well into detail on how to go about doing it. What’s even better is that you made it very simple to do. Just from the first two points you made and the sentences you have everyone to finish, most people would never even think about themselves and incorporating this into developing their personal brand!

    But in all, it’s really important to develop your personal brand. I use to see many people on social media branding the company they represent, but little do they know they’re losing out on a lot whenever they do this. When you brand yourself well enough, it can get to the point of no matter what company you’re with or products/services you promote, you will have followers that will invest in those things. That’s how powerful personal branding is!

    Thanks for sharing Kathi! I hope you’re having a great week!

    • Kathi Miller

      November 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Sherman,

      Thanks for the warm welcome to Aha!NOW! And it’s especially nice to meet a fellow branding advocate! I’m glad you enjoyed the approach the I took to personal branding. I’ve found over my career that the topic of branding can be a challenging one for both the owner and coach. Consequently, some time back I sstarted working from this model and it has worked quite well.

      And I love your acknowledgement that a personal brand has a longer shelf live that a corporate identify. Your observation is dead on and one that I probably should have included in the article. I find this especially important in our current business environment. Just this morning, a colleague from a different industry reached out to let me know that he had lost his job after 20 years. Unfortunately the majority of his branding has been at the company level and now he is in the precarious position of working to get his brand built and executed immediately. But as you indicate, if he had been diligent to his personal brand throughout he would be in a MUCH better position today.

      Again Sherman, I’m pleased to meet you and appreciate the effort you took to engage with me on Aha!HOW






Six Easy Steps to Success with Personal Branding

by Kathi Miller time to read: 6 min