Every time my little cousin catches a glimpse of that cute, smiling bee head with white and bright red colors, he’d yell “G-bee! G-bee! G-bee!”. Translation: Jollibee, the famous Filipino fast food chain. (This is not a sponsored post. LOL).
He doesn’t even know how to read yet. But every time he sees that red bee head, “g-bee” comes to his mind. Instantly. He knows what it is.
That is branding.
A brand is anything that separates one thing from another.
It might be a symbol, a name, a design, a product, or a sound among others. In Jollibee’s case, well, it’s the cute, bright red bee head.
When it comes to your personal brand, it basically refers to what you are known for.
What can a good personal brand do for you?
A terrific personal brand will allow you to reap a number of rewards beneficial to your professional or personal life.
According to Neil Patel, a leading personal brand expert and web strategist, a good personal brand may help you:
- Land a better job, a job you love and pays well
- Win more clients, increase sales, and increase your earnings
- Grow your professional network (which means more professional opportunities)
- Build and nurture online communities
- Create a strong foundation for future success (however, you define it)
In essence, your personal brand is what makes you sui generis. It’s what will make you stand out.
Getting started: Your Personal Brand Plan
How do you want yourself to be perceived by others? What do you want to be known for? How do you want to live your professional and personal life?
Think about these questions. Your answers will tell you what your personal brand vision is. And that vision, that’s what we’re going to work on and turn it into reality.
Lida Citroen, an international branding and reputation management expert, said:
“The foundation of personal branding rests on authenticity: The ability to tap into your genuine, humble, and individual human qualities from which your identity, personality, and character stem.
Indeed. What sets you apart from the rest is your identity and your value system – basically, who you are.
In order to plan your personal brand vision, you have to clarify who you are. But, how well do you know yourself? How can you know yourself better?
And then, after clarifying who you are at present, you must discern and look forward – who do I want to be? Where do I want to be?
Let’s talk about what you can do to go over your personal brand vision. Read on!
Note: Remember that the following guide is only a guide. Not everything listed here will apply to you. This guide hopes to serve as your framework only. Discern for yourself what the most appropriate steps to take are.
Who Am I?
Most of the people I’ve talked to tell me that the question “Why don’t you tell me about yourself?” proves to be the most intimidating staple job interview question. It’s a simple question. Yes. But it seems tricky, intimidating, and vague all at the same time.
But why is this so?
Well, that’s because we generally feel uncomfortable towards talking about ourselves (unless you aren’t of course).
Self-awareness, however, is an important step towards self-actualization – the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone – says the famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow.
How do we become more self-aware?
1. Setting Your Values
What are values? Basically, these are the things that wake you up every day. They are the center of your being. They are the compass to your life. Your values system also tells you what’s right and wrong and you refer to them when making decisions.
To give you an example, we all value ambition, family, community, friends, romance, or intelligence. In other words, values are those that matter to you.
It helps to list down these values. List all your values in life – people, feelings, and situations that make you most happy. Just list them all down.
2. Hierarchy of Values
After listing down all the things you value in life. Look at them again and reflect about what you’ve listed for a while.
You will realize that not all of your values are created equal. Some are more important than others. That’s fine. That’s how it is, right?
There are moments in life when these values will be put to test – moments when you have you choose some values over the others.
For example, you might be considering taking a Juris Doctorate, or further studies in the graduate school. This might fit into your ambition and your intelligence values.
But then, in order to pursue this plan, this also means you have to sacrifice a little of your time for your family (sacrificing your family value). Tough one, right?
Well, everything is a trade-off, economists say. After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. To get some, you lose some.
But in the end, you choose what you think will make you happier or more successful. And the goal of developing your personal brand is for you to find happiness in your professional and personal life.
Yes, the better opportunities are part of the reasons why a terrific personal brand is desirable. But beyond that, happiness truly defines success.
It’s not a secret that many professionals who have become successful in their profession, later find out how unhappy they are because they failed to realize how much they value other things other than their ambitions, such as family, relationship, or community values.
This may happen the other around, too. There are some of us who have wonderful families, but they feel unfulfilled because they haven’t lived up to their full potential (because they sacrificed their ambition values).
So, prioritize your values according to how much your regard each. Reflect well on your list, and you’ll know how to approach this.
3. Your Passions
Aren’t your values similar with your passions? Well, they may overlap, but your passions are the things that you like doing with your time.
Your passions are what interests you – things that intrigue you. They may be different with your values, but they may overlap.
Generally, there are two kinds of passion: your professional and personal passions.
In this stage of creating your personal brand vision, it is necessary to identify both professional and personal passions. Why? Knowing both kinds of passion will help you determine what you want to do professionally, and when you are not at work.
For example, a person might have the following professional passions:
- Technology (in general)
The personal passions for this person might be:
A person with these set of passions will most probably enjoy a professional career in designing smartphone technology dedicated for outdoor travels, for example. Or, they might consider travel blogging! A person with this set of passions will also choose a career that will give them enough time to spend with their family.
Knowing your values and also your passions will give you a clearer view of what you want today and what you want to do professionally in the future.
So, reflect well on your values and your passions.
4. Your Ideal Personality Traits
After identifying your values and passion, it’s time to reflect on your ideal personality traits – these are unique aspects of your being or your personality. Your ideal personality traits dominantly shape the person that you are now.
One theory on personality traits can help you navigate this stage and help you identify a unique set of traits that define you. This theory is known as the Big Five Personality Traits.
The Big Five include the following traits:
- Openness to experience
Identifying your weak and strong personality traits will give you valuable insights (e.g. what to improve and what to maintain).
5. Asking for Feedback
Now that you have your values, passions, and personality traits listed and sorted out, discuss your findings with those that are closest to you.
Talk to people who know you well. These are your family, friends, and peers. Ask for their assessment of who you are to them. Ask for their perceptions of you. Ask them what they think your values, passions, and ideal traits are.
Remember that their assessment of you might differ with your own assessment of yourself. Or, they might align closely. Remember that your goal here is to solicit outside feedback, you don’t have to refute their assessment of your personality traits and most-likely values and passion.
The importance of asking for outside feedback is for you to better understand how you project yourself, and how to project yourself in the future. This is all about how others see you; how you want them to see is immaterial at this point.
Remember that when we are talking about branding (in your case, personal brand) we are more interested in how others are going to view you and what you stand for. Your view of yourself is important, remember that. But the image you project, your brand, is what matters most at the end of the day.
So, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from those closest to you. And, take notes.
Where Do I Want To Be?
Congratulations, you are done with the first stage of creating your personal brand vision. Now, we’re off to stage two!
So, what’s stage two? Well, it’s about knowing where you want to be.
You probably have an idea of what you want to be in the future. But is that really what you want? Is that something you’ll be good at and, at the same time, happy about?
If you already have a clear goal, well, that’s good for you. But if you don’t, let’s figure it out together.
There are a few steps that may help you figure out where you really want to be. For those who already have clear goals, it won’t hurt if you also look into this guide, and re-evaluate your goals.
You may feel bored with your work today (or the jobs you’ve had in the past). But surely, there are moments in your life that made you happy. Recollect those moments you find rewarding and assess those.
For example, you may ask yourself various questions related to your professional experience. Does dealing with people something you find riveting? Do you like it when your ideas sell? Or do you enjoy finding solutions to problems? Do you find it extremely fulfilling to impart knowledge to other people?
Asking the same kind of questions about your personal life will also help you find out what you really enjoy doing when you are not working.
Reevaluate the rewarding moments in your life – professionally and personally – and see how you can make the two sides of your life work together. Make a list of all these rewarding aspects of your life. Don’t limit the list.
2. Narrowing Down the List; Formulating a Potential Vision
Get your lengthy these-make-me-happy list. If you can simplify the lengthy list into categories, do so. For example, if you answered “yes” to the questions above (e.g. loves dealing with people, loves solving other people’s problems), you may label that as “customer service”. Something like that.
Just narrow them down to see a potential profession that would make you satisfied with both your professional and personal life.
3. Visualizing An Ideal Career Ending
Got a shorter list? Are you seeing the type of professional that will make you happy? By this time, you should have narrowed down a vague collection of the things that make you happy into something a more specific.
Maybe before chancing upon this guide, you wanted to be a sales or marketing executive. But you don’t exactly know in which industry. Now that you have a deeper understanding of yourself, perhaps you’d want to be a sales or marketing executive for a tech company, and more specifically, a tech company focused on mobile technology (we’re following the example we’ve set in the earlier part of this guide).
What’s next? Write a description of your career ending – what you’ll be doing on the day you retire. Be specific if you can. Of course, reality won’t go exactly the way you write them but the point of this exercise is for you to have a clear vision of what will make you happy.
4. Different Paths Towards A Single Goal
Now that you have your career ending. Let’s take a few steps back and look at where you are right now. The more important question now becomes: How do you get there?
If you want to become a marketing executive in a tech company focusing on mobile technology, there are various career paths you may take to get there. Just like any other career, you’ll have to assume various positions first before getting the dream position. You may work in various places, or a manifold of tech companies. Many roads, single dream.
Lay out your different paths, and then rank them in priority. For each track, lay down possible outcomes. For sure, a path will emerge, a path that you find more exciting and has the most appeal to you.
5. Revisit Your Values
Now that you have your career vision, and a clearer career plan, compare this with your values. Does your career plan reflect your values in life? Does it incorporate well your passions?
I hope it does.
Next time, we’ll talk about targeting your audience.
But why? Well, because a personal brand without an audience is useless; just like how useless your amazing vocal power is when only the bathroom walls hear it.
So, see you next time? Ciao!