Getting personal about branding

So, it’s January, often thought to be named after the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions, Janus; depicted as having one face that looks to the future and one face that looks to the past.

And in this month of new beginnings, many of you will have been cultivating the new face you want to show to the world in 2017 A.K.A. ‘brand you’.

Brand who?

Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that the concept of a ‘brand’ belongs solely to big names in business and retail. Pepsi is youthful, Wrangler is rugged, Prada is sophisticated. Whilst it’s probably always been human nature to be been concerned with how one is perceived and to try and establish a certain identity among our colleagues and peers, the ubiquitous presence of social media in the lives of almost all of us now means we hold a powerful tool with which to communicate who we are; what our personal brand is.

More and more of us are doing just that; curating our own personal brand online, just as big corporates have been doing for years. We’re using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and others to differentiate ourselves in our social and professional worlds.

Every move you make

To quote Jeff Bezos of Amazon, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. We might expand on that to say your brand is what people say about you on social media, which is often led by what you say about yourself.

Think about an average week of social media posts in the lives of some people you know. Maybe one ‘checks in’ on Facebook at The Hand & Flowers in Buckinghamshire, another shares a book review of the new Zadie Smith novel from The Guardian, two more ‘like’ a post about Veganuary, another endlessly uploads cat videos. Every action we make on social media, everything we like, share and post about the things we eat, drink, watch, listen to and wear are all tiny bricks in the tower of ‘brand me’.

Celebrity brands are personal brands

‘Brand me’ is nothing new for celebrities, of course. And there is no finer example of this than Kim Kardashian West. With 90.4 million followers on Instagram, Kardashian West has built arguably her entire career through the personal brand she has cultivated on social media.

Let’s not forget soon-to-be President Donald Trump…

Trump already had an established, world-famous brand long before he was picking out new curtains for The White House. He used that branding – successful, powerful, wealthy – to attract attention and amplify his campaign message over his rival. Most importantly, through his social media platform he was able to speak more directly to those who aspire to his lifestyle and ideas. He capitalised on the power of the Trump brand by making it personal.

Creating ‘brand you’

The main pillars of branding are identity, image, positioning, relationships, personality, behaviour and equity. Some might say that if you don’t define that personal brand for yourself, someone will define it for you. So how do you manage “what people say about you when you’re not in the room”?

  • Be strategic – take a birds-eye-view of the general qualities that you want to be linked to ‘brand you’, then always keep that ‘strategy’ in mind with everything you say and do online
  • Be authentic – it’s just going to be exhausting being anything other than who you really are so think about how your online persona reflects your true beliefs and values
  • Be mindful – have you googled yourself lately? What’s your digital footprint and does it reflect you in a positive light?
  • Be purposeful – just as you will unfollow companies that flood your newsfeed with boring, silly or offensive material, people will unfollow you. Each tweet you send, each status update you make, each picture you share, contributes to your personal brand
  • Be sociable – it’s social media, after all! Which school did you attend? Are there groups you can join? What companies have you worked for. Association is another effective way to build your personal brand
  • Be original – life online moves fast and there are imitators aplenty, so keep that old Roman god Janus in mind and always keep looking forward and using the lessons you’ve learned in the past to evolve your brand with the times.

Talk to us on 01256 536 000 if you need some help building your brand. We’re a marketing agency in Basingstoke, Hampshire boasting a specialist team to help you define and develop your brand identity through effective marketing in 2017 and beyond.