What is your personal brand?

Cindy Sharman
November 29, 2017

Last week, Integrated Resources co-hosted an event on personal branding.

The event speakers included the inimitable Allison Pearson, media medic Dr. Rosemary Leonard, and brand and communications expert, Jenny Burns. During the conversation, we agreed that a few principles are key when it comes to how you define your personal brand:

It must be authentic.

You cannot lie about your personal brand. It must be based on your truth - inauthenticity will be found out, and the repetitional damage could be vast. Similarly, the story needs to be ongoing, and not simply a device used whilst job-hunting or during a period of self-promotion.

Many of us derive our understanding of ourselves from the way influential characters in our lives - parents, teachers, colleagues - have described us. It is important to examine those potentially long-held assumptions, and assess whether they truly reflect who you are today. Are you really highly-strung, as you were told by your parents? Maybe you’re not as competitive as your first boss made you out to be? Our Principal, Claire Vane, was told by her parents that she was shy, retiring and unambitious throughout her childhood. Only in her thirties did she realise that her true personal brand was quite the opposite - and I have seen the psychometric profile to prove it!

It is not something your employer should be scared of.

Interestingly, a survey carried out by Question and Retain, a Pulse Check consultancy that asks the right questions at the right time to provide real time feedback, insight and analysis for their clients, revealed that 42% of respondents felt their employers did not encourage them to have an individual brand. When questioned, many felt that employers worry that staff having a strong Twitter or LinkedIn presence puts them at risk of being poached by competitors. Brand guru Jenny Burns stressed that the opposite is true; if your employees have exciting, active social media pages that convey a vibrant personal brand and engagement with their employer, their followers will have a positive experience of the employer brand too.With these principles in mind, what’s the best way to define your personal brand?

Jenny, who has helped companies and their leaders to define their brands to great effect, emphasises that you must work with what you are. To do this, talk aloud to yourself and establish your truth before you speak to others. 360-degree feedback is important, but you must already have a sense of who you are before seeking it so other opinions don’t distort what you know to be true about yourself.

She went on to give her winning formula for an authentic brand, which can be both professional and personal. You should ask yourself three questions:

Q1. What am I super good at?

Q2. What is my passion? What do I absolutely love?

Q3. What drives me?

The crucial final step is to add a dollop of storytelling - the glue that binds your unique traits, skills and strengths together into a compelling narrative - and voilà, your personal brand is ready for you to reinforce using your voice, behaviours, and online presence.

So how is personal brand different to reputation?

In some ways, it isn’t; if other people’s experiences of you contradict your self-defined personal brand, the brand falls apart. It is important to establish whether this is something you’re vulnerable to. Googling yourself is a good litmus test - if your top search entries are your aggressive customer service rants on Twitter, you may not appear as approachable to new clients as you might wish.

As HR consultants, we might also suggest you use psychometrics to define your personal brand even further, identifying the traits that make you stand out from the crowd. Jung’s Big Five Personality Traits - openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism - are the universal cornerstones of personality analysis and we can all be defined by how much of each trait we possess. By using a tool such as Lumina Spark or Facet 5, you can identify a vast number of (positive) personality traits that you effortlessly embody, just by being you. When authenticity is a deal-breaker, this feels like a great place to start.

We all agreed that the failure to define and signpost your own brand is risky business; if you don’t control your personal brand, someone else might do it for you. Conversely, developing a compelling, authentic personal brand is an excellent way to communicate your unique value to your colleagues, clients, professional contacts and friends. What better reason to have your personal brand shaped-up and ready for 2018?

If you’d like help defining your personal brand, or that of your business, we’d love to help. Get in touch today.

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Cindy Sharman

Cindy is a consultant at Integrated Resources. Outside of the classroom, she is an enthusiastic amateur photographer, voracious reader, and enjoys the never-ending pursuit of the perfect orange lipstick.

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