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3 Key Steps to Building a Powerful Personal Brand

Your brand is your identity and reputation. Here is how to make sure you project yourself as interesting and valuable.
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Do you need to have a personal brand? The truth is that you have a brand whether you want one or not. Your personal brand is the impression you make combined with the reputation you create in society. This is simply the way you present yourself to the world and the impact you have after you leave.

Many are unconcerned with their brand. They simply act as themselves, unconcerned as to how they affect the people around them. Sometimes this works out all right, but often these same people wonder why they don't get the respect, accolades, or opportunities they crave.

Those who proactively build and develop their personal brand can attract the right opportunities for the right reasons. They can stop brand deterioration before it gets out of hand. Without awareness and active cultivation, others will build your brand image, whether you agree with it or not.

Don't let the world dictate how you are perceived. Take control of your reputation and your destiny. Here is a quick guide to developing the three pillars of a successful personal brand. Miss one of them, and your brand will topple.

A great personal brand should be:

1. Authentic

No matter how much people try, they can't avoid projecting who they really are. They may fool themselves into thinking people see them differently, but ultimately the truth comes to the surface. The brand you design must be true to who you are. It should be consistent with your core values, your skills, and your history. Being self-aware helps a lot here. If you think you might have blind spots, do this:

  • Write down a list of a list of 10 adjectives that describe you.
  • Now go have lunch with the five people who know you best.
  • Ask them to make the same list about you.
  • Compare the lists and look for common descriptors.

Any variance between your list and that of the others should give you insight as to how differently you perceive yourself compared to the people around you. For further insight, try the same exercise with colleagues and acquaintances that barely know you. Adapt your behavior to achieve parity. Try this exercise periodically until your list matches with others.

2. Consistent

There is no crime in being unpredictable per se, but most people like some level of dependability among friends and colleagues. Your brand will suffer if your actions and words are not consistent. For example, if you rail on about punctuality but are habitually late, people will not only be frustrated by your lateness but they may brand you a hypocrite. Be intentional with your brand. Decide what is truly important to your image and then give concerted effort to practice what you preach. If you can't rise to your own standards, then change your standards and be accommodating and understanding of those with similar attributes.

3. Harmonic

Most likely you have seen people who are in a constant state of dissonance. The people in their life don't fit with their goals. The activities in which they engage are detrimental to their goals. The choices they make about their time and lifestyle disrupt their happiness and path to success. Some thrive in chaos, but that becomes the brand they project as well. People with strong personal brands make deliberate decisions about their time, activities, and the people around them. Choose to surround yourself with people who celebrate and enhance your life. Carefully manage your time and resources to support the reputation and lifestyle that will result in your preferred future.

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IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Feb 21, 2014

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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