“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s…
3. Building Your Brand: Personal Branding (Part Three)
“A great brand is a story that’s never completely told. A brand is a metaphorical story that connects with something very deep – a fundamental appreciation of mythology. Stories create the emotional context people need to locate themselves in a larger experience.”
In this post, we’ll get into the active part of personal branding—building your brand through clear, consistent, and constant communication across a variety of channels. If you haven’t had a chance to read parts one and two—introduction to personal branding, and designing your personal brand—I recommend taking a few minutes to skim them before diving into part three.
In part two, we talked about designing your “brand house” around your core values, promise, and personality. Once you have a solid design, you’re ready to start building a structure that others can see and appreciate.
There are actions you can take to build your personal brand. Some of these are highly visible, such as contributing to internal publications, leading employee resource groups, speaking at conferences, or publishing articles and op-eds. However, you don’t need to be constantly in the spotlight to establish a strong brand; small actions and gestures can also make a big difference.
For example, I once had a colleague, Tom, who had been told that he needed to demonstrate more risk-taking and creativity to rise to the next level in his career. Tom took two actions to build his brand: he stepped up to lead riskier, more ambiguous projects (a big, concrete action), and he consciously used phrases like “take a risk” and “stretch our creativity” to describe his work (a small, symbolic action). Soon, Tom’s colleagues and manager were echoing his language, and his reputation as a creative risk-taker began to spread.
Whatever tactics you choose to build your brand, make sure you follow your design. Every appearance and publication should link back to your values and promise, and reflect your personality. Be clear, consistent, and constant to establish a strong brand from the start:
- Clear: Be clear about your values and promise. Don’t over-complicate or qualify your message; if you can’t summarize your core values and your promise in one sentence each, go back and iterate on your design.
- Consistent: Your brand story should be the same whether you’re communicating it on your Facebook page, in a face-to-face conversation, or via a keynote speech. Make conscious decisions about the language and tone you’ll use, and the visual image you’ll present, and stick to them across all communication channels.
- Constant: To build a recognizable brand, you need to have a constant presence. Post updates on your blog and social media on a regular cadence, and continually seek out opportunities to speak and publish so your brand remains visible and relevant.
Clear, consistent, and constant might sound easy, but executing a brand-building strategy takes effort! To be sure you’re making steady progress, create a written action plan and hold yourself to concrete targets—updating your blog on certain dates, applying for a speaking opportunity before the deadline, etc. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your approach to feedback—how you request it, respond to it, and extend it to others—is an important part of your brand, too.