Personal brand. Like it or not, we all have one. But what exactly what is it?
Personal brand vs. personal branding
Our personal brand is the perception others have of us based on their direct and indirect experiences with us to date. These impressions are built based on our expertise, our communication, our actions and behaviours, and our past and present contributions to a team, organisation or community.
Personal branding on the other hand is when we start to take control of our personal brand. It’s the effort you make to influence the perception other people have of you, to ensure it’s as accurate as possible.
Now you might be asking why do I need to take control of my brand? Isn’t that just for Kim Kardashian’s and celebrity wannabes of the world?
As a leader, your employees, colleagues, clients, suppliers, investors…each of your stakeholders have already formed an impression of you.
The question is: how accurate is that perception? How closely aligned is it with who you truly are?
As Richard Branson explained during an event last year:
“Your brand is all you truly have – it’s your reputation”
It’s what you are known for. It’s what people understand to be true of you. It determines whether or not they believe you to be trustworthy, reliable and capable. It determines your credibility in the eyes of your stakeholders and ultimately whether or not they want to work for you or with you.
Care and protect
So if you want your stakeholders to recognise, support and connect with you as a leader, you need to start taking control of your personal brand.
Remember, their perception of you as a leader is the reality with which you are faced. So you want their perception to be as closely aligned as possible to the real, authentic you.
Your personal brand is your reputation and you need to zealously protect it.