In a previous post we looked at the importance of developing a platform from which to start amplifying your voice and elevating your positioning in the marketplace.
Having a solid platform is critical as it serves as the launchpad for your personal brand; in other words, it underpins much of what you will be doing from a PR and marketing perspective. As such, it’s important both elements – platform and brand – are looked at in tandem.
RECAPPING: A platform as a person’s combined and integrated presence across the web – their blog (or podcast or online video series) along with their followings on social networks – plus any regular offline exposure i.e. a regular magazine column. The result of this presence is a growing audience. Think of these elements as the ‘planks’ of your platform. The more planks you have, the stronger and more solid your platform.
But let’s focus on brand for the moment.
Building your personal brand – in other words, increasing your reach and influence and the level of connection you have with the marketplace – is a key component to becoming a micro maven and dominating your niche.
But first, what is a brand?
Too many people confuse their logo with their brand. Don’t be one of them – your logo is not your brand. What people think about you – that is your brand; your reputation in the eyes of others? That is your brand! Or as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos from Amazon.com was once quoted as saying – a brand is ‘what people say about you when you’re not in the room’.
There are three ways in which you can go about building your personal brand.
ONE – haphazardly, just doing stuff and hoping like hell something positive will happen as a result (not what I’d recommend, by the way).
TWO – meandering in a purposeful manner; in other words you’ve got a direction in which you need to head but occasionally you might get off the path to explore new territory (this is the way I tend to roll).
THREE – being laser-focused and absolutely resolute in your pursuit of defining and promoting your personal brand. If you’re a hardcore planner and a very detailed person when it comes to execution, this way will suit you best.
By being conscious of how you want others to perceive your brand, you will be in a better position to start taking deliberate steps to ensure that perception is a consistent one across all ‘touchpoints’. By touchpoints I mean anywhere people come into contact with your brand, whether it be in a blog post, a magazine column, a podcast interview, a tweet, a LinkedIn update, an email, a phone conversation, or an in-person chat.
There are several key things to remember here:
- REACH – how far and wide is your message being carried?
- DEPTH – what is the depth of connection you’re making with your audience?
- FREQUENCY – how often are you getting your message out into the marketplace?
- CONSISTENCY – how consistent are you in terms of the substance of your output?
An ongoing program to build your personal brand needs to touch on all of the above. In other words, your goal should be to always be to look at blending high-reach activities (e.g. editorial coverage in traditional media) with more high-touch activities such as public speaking or attending industry networking nights – for example, giving a presentation or hosting a roundtable discussion will carry deeper levels of engagement than, say, an article in a magazine, but the latter will expose your brand to greater numbers of people. BOTH MEDIUMS ARE CRUCIAL IN THE BRAND-BUILDING EQUATION.
Importantly, you need to be undertaking activities such as these on a frequent and proactive basis while at the same time ensuring your story/message (visually, written and verbal) is consistent as it can be.
That is both the challenge and the opportunity!
In subsequent articles we will look at how you can more strategically build your personal brand, starting with defining your brand story (including key messages and evidence-based ‘proof-points’), before moving on to:
- developing your ‘spheres of conversation’ (i.e. what categories do you want to ‘own’, what topics do you want to be known for, what issues to you want to spark debate around); and
- determining your ‘spheres of influence’ (what channels you will use on an ongoing basis to communicate your story and your message/s?).
To become a powerful personal brand with a public image that accurately represents the ‘real’ you requires a few things:
- that you understand what you stand for as a brand and how you would like yourself to be perceived, then …
- taking action to ensure you not only reach and connect with as many people as possible but also…
- that you are in consistent across-the-board in all your communication activities.
This means being fully cognisant of the multiple communication channels at your disposal, ranging from the ‘owned’ (your blog and website, for example) through to external mediums such as traditional media (press and broadcast) and online magazines, plus the raft of social channels that you will never own per se, only ‘rent’.
* * * * * * *TREVOR YOUNG specialises in PR, social media, content marketing and personal branding strategies. He speaks professionally and is the author of the book ‘microDOMINATION: How to Leverage Social Media & Content Marketing to Build a Mini-Business Empire Around Your Personal Brand’.