career development / Job market

How to create your personal brand

What impression do you make on others? How do you know? The way you present yourself to the outside world, what you say and what you do, your attitudes, behaviours and values, all create an impression in others’ minds. People will judge you, fairly or otherwise, on first impressions. Once you become aware of how others perceive you, you will improve your chances of both securing a job and progressing in your career.

‘You are your brand’ (Jeff Bezos)

It’s therefore important that you understand your personal brand, your unique attributes and strengths and moreover recognise that you can intentionally develop your brand

Organisational brands

It’s no accident that well-known company brands are highly memorable. Ask any audience for examples of well-known brands and similar names will come up: Apple, Amazon, Google & John Lewis just popped into my head – which came into yours? Each has invested considerably in developing their organisational values, straplines and language and colour schemes.  Tesco’s ‘every little helps’ conveys the image of a thoughtful, keenly- priced supermarket with the consumer at the heart of its messaging.  You won’t suddenly see Tesco promoting exclusive high-end products; these wouldn’t fit with their ethos. Powerful branding is why these companies make a lasting impression on us.

Your Personal Brand

It’s worth asking yourself the question: ‘How can I make a positive lasting impression at work?’ If you had a motto or strapline, what would it be? What would it say about you? Give your brand some conscious attention – let’s call it a Personal Brand MOT. If you’ve never given it much thought, this can be fun. You will discover you have many more qualities and skills than you’d previously considered.

Ask for feedback from those who know you well. Does the feedback you get match with your version of your brand? This can be valuable – even though it may be uncomfortable. Ask colleagues and your line manager for 4-5 words each that best describe you, with supporting evidence. Are they identifying similar words to the ones you’ve identified? Any suggested areas for development?

We all have our blind spots. We don’t always notice our strengths as they come so naturally to us that we often aren’t aware of them. However, others can often more readily identify them. It’s worth asking yourself ‘what do people come to me for?‘ We all contribute in different ways; perhaps you are the social secretary? The technical problem solver? The mediator?

Having undertaken my own Personal Brand MOT, I’ve found it much easier to complete application forms, answer interview questions and to update my LinkedIn profile.

Developing your Personal Brand

There is real value for you in considering which aspects of your brand are aspirational; things you’d like to develop but which aren’t quite there yet. Do you want to come across as more self-assured? Do you want to improve the way you contribute to seminars? Observe others doing things skilfully and learn from them. Practice channelling some of the approaches and behaviours you see in others. Giving yourself permission to experiment will allow you to improve and polish your brand.

One of the positive things about personal branding is that unlike large organisations, you can evolve and grow your brand over time more easily.  This is particularly helpful when you are considering applying for a promotion. Inevitably you will need to develop and grow the skills and attributes you’ll need in a new role. Taking control of and consciously developing your brand to incorporate these will help you succeed in your new role.

Once you’ve identified your brand, give yourself permission to experiment with the ‘dressing up box of behaviours’ in order to explore and nurture it. Enjoy discovering the many things that make your brand unique. Have fun!

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