Companies, products, and services use branding to differentiate themselves from competition. The same holds true with personal branding, the process of building and constantly reinforcing who you are, what you stand for, and what makes you unique.
After spending 10 years working in brand management, marketing everything from trash bags to luxury ice cream, I’m a big believer in the power of strong branding. And during the past few years of running my own business and working with clients and audiences trying to relaunch their careers, I’ve also come to see how much strong personal branding can benefit you in your career.
Here are 4 of the most common benefits I’ve seen emerge from having a solid, clear personal brand.
1: Stand out
Seth Godin once said, “Don’t be different just to be different. Be different to be better.” The strongest brands out there offer specific benefits that matter. For example, Volvo focuses on safety. IKEA on affordable furniture. Starbucks on coffee authenticity. Strong brands stand for something, and by standing for something, they tend to stand out and powerfully resonate with the needs and desires of consumers.
Similarly, having a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in your professional circles, amongst your colleagues, and online. The ability to be noticed by a hiring manager or recruiter is often half the battle toward eventually landing the role of your dreams. Personal branding allows you to differentiate yourself from a sea of other candidates, and drive awareness for the unique professional skills you bring to the table.
Personal branding allows you to differentiate yourself.
2: Open up relevant opportunities
Precise offerings tend to gain traction with relevant consumers. Imagine going to the shoe store and trying to decide which shoe to buy. If you’re a runner, you’ll go to the running section. If you’re a hiker, the hiking boot section. The point is that specialized shoes stand out to certain people. Conversely, the all-in-one cross trainer that doesn’t link directly to a particular occasion or sport sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
Professionals who put a stake in the ground about the specific skills they bring, the specific audiences they serve, or the specific opportunities they’re seeking, tend to be more memorable. Hiring managers and recruiters have an easier time knowing what to do with a very focused candidate with a specific skill-set over someone who’s open to anything and “well-rounded.”
Professionals who put a stake in the ground tend to be more memorable.
3. Clarify career decisions
I recall from my days working in brand management, when push came to shove, business decisions were often driven not only by financials, but also by a brand’s core values. The assumption was that every action you take as a brand owner either reinforces or dilutes your brand. So getting the green light to an idea was much easier when that idea reinforced the brand’s personality, voice, or equity. If an idea conflicted with what the brand stood for, it often got killed.
When it comes to your career, you’re going to be faced with many decisions that can take you down very different professional paths. And everything you do will either strengthen or weaken your desired personal brand. If you’re faced with a difficult career decision, being clear on your personal brand allows you to understand if the opportunity reinforces or dilutes your desired personal brand, which often clarifies the right path forward. For example, whenever I’m faced with a decision about whether to take on a client, speak at an event, or say yes to an opportunity, I find it clarifying to reconnect with the components of my personal brand and the work I want to be known for, then pursue only those opportunities that amplify my desired personal brand.
Understand if the opportunity reinforces or dilutes your personal brand.
4. Create focus and intention
In the world of brand management, resources are always finite, and you’re constantly having to make decisions about where to invest your spending. TV advertising or digital advertising? Social media or events? Launching a new product or investing more heavily into an existing product? Supporting Product A or Product B? Reconnecting with our brand mission often informed business strategies, and allows us to more proactively manage our brand-building activities.
The same holds true with your personal brand. Being clear about the various components of who you are and what you stand for allows you to more clearly define where to invest your own career activities. You invest in education that feeds the specific skills you’re trying to amplify. You pursue roles that directly align with the professional legacy you’re trying to leave. You spend your time creating content that reinforces your desired reputation. Focus allows you to get the best return on your investment of time, ultimately allowing you to take command of your career and professional trajectory.
Focus allows you to get the best return on your investment of time.
Learn how to build a strong personal brand
If you want to learn more about how to build a strong personal brand, join my course on “Building a Strong Personal Brand to Land Your Next Dream Role.” In the course, you’ll learn:
- Powerful principles of branding
- A simple branding framework to build your own unique personal brand
- How to create a focused summary of your professional strengths
- Ways to reinforce your personal brand in your social media profiles and job hunting.
I’m offering a special launch promo that gives lifetime access to the course on Udemy for $39 (80% off regular $200) to my readers who join by July 31, 2017. Preview the course and join today if you want to learn how to enhance your professional reputation and stand out to land your next dream role.