A New Year often brings the promise of change, perhaps even one of a “new, improved you”. When it comes to growing your personal brand, however, building this improved version of you is an ongoing process that lasts throughout the year…and well beyond! So I’ve broken down key branding concepts into a month-by-month guide to help you with each step of growing (and implementing) your personal brand.
I invite you to use these monthly Year of Personal Branding posts as a map that will allow you to navigate the whole arena of Personal Branding, guiding you gently throughout the year. Some of the monthly strategies have been chosen in accordance with a particular theme or natural points in the calendar; others were chosen to follow concepts from the previous month. The result is a curated and guided overview of personal branding: how it can help you and how to implement it in 2018.
January – “working your core”
Let’s start off with a reminder of what all this personal branding business is about! Essentially, your personal brand is a combination of your personality, reputation, presence, credibility, values and personal style. A strong personal brand communicates what makes you unique, genuine and compelling. It can further enhance your recognition, establish reputation and credibility, advance your career, achieve your personal goals and build self-confidence.
The personal branding process, first and foremost, helps you to develop an enhanced self-awareness. This includes a better understanding of your vision, purpose, passions, strengths and values in life. During January, we start to explore some of these attributes so your personal brand reflects a true representation of who you are, a “core identity” which serves as the foundation upon which your personal brand is built.
So we begin the year with a Personal Brand Audit, which takes you through the process of looking at your own brand attributes, including some of the ways you differentiate yourself from everyone else. It also includes some initial work around identifying your personal values, core branding work relevant to both your professional and personal life. Finally, we take a look not only at 2018 but the years beyond, and uncover what implications the results of this branding audit have for the future.
This can be thought-provoking and powerful stuff so my recommendation is to either carve out half a day that you commit to the process, or break it down and work on each stage for a few days. Do allocate a new notebook or document for this process and keep this handy as we will be looking back through the year to tweak and assess how we are doing.
As your personal brand is best seen through eyes of others, assessing how others perceive you is incredibly valuable for building a healthy brand.
- Think about how others may have perceived you last year and come up with three words they might use to describe you. You can concentrate on work colleagues or expand this to include friends and family as well.
- Next, what three words (these should be positive or neutral) would you yourself use to describe yourself last year? Do you believe they are similar or consistent with the words the others might have used? If not, how can you make the perceptions of others more consistent with the perceptions you hold of yourself?
- Now, what three words would you use to describe your ideal self (how you would like to be seen)? What are some (realistic) goals or intentions that can help you achieve your ideal attributes and make them known to others?
If you can muster up the courage (it’s well worth it!), you can also conduct your own informal mini audit by directly asking others! One idea is to do it over email, which can be as simple as:
“I’m going through a personal (or professional) development exercise, which requires me to analyse how I am perceived by others. I would be grateful if I could send me three words which you feel best describe me personally (or professionally). It will only take a few moments of your time, but would be greatly appreciated.”
Your unique combination is what differentiates your personal brand from that of others. Think about the accomplishments that set you apart from others over the past year.
- What personal traits helped you to achieve these accomplishments?
- Which of your unique qualities or strengths did others rely on the most?
- What did you do better than others (or what were you asked to do more often than others)?
- If you are thinking of a working context, what did you bring to your position that differentiates you from your colleagues and competitors?
Your personal values are at the very core of your personal brand. Think of them as your personal operating system.
- Take a look at the personal values that were the strongest last year. Are these the values that you want to stand for this coming year?
- Do a “fresh” values assessment for the New Year – you might be surprised!
- Assess whether you are living congruently with your values. If there are discrepancies between your behaviours and your values, what changes need to be made?
Personal goals can give our brands a clearly identified direction.
- What destination would you like your personal brand to head towards this year? In two to three years? In five to seven years?
- Do you have a “road map” of short, medium and long-term goals to get you there, even if just over the next year?
- What would you like more of in your life this year? What would you like less of?
Be sure to check back in early February for next month’s guide, when we look at building on passion and purpose!