“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. – Aristotle
The concept of branding yourself has to do with first uncovering who you are as a person. Your brand isn’t an ad campaign or a tagline; it’s a combination of your beliefs, interests, talents, ethos, skills and values.
Personal branding is not an act or a display for others.
It’s you being you and nothing more. But sometimes it isn’t immediately easy to know or say what being ‘me’ is. We can look at our friends or colleagues and see their strengths shining through, but often we feel less certain about our own.
So, what are the characteristics and qualities that combine to make you, you? ‘Who am I and what defines me?’
Ask yourself these three questions as they will help uncover these characteristics:
- What are my values?
- What are my strengths?
- What am I passionate about?
Ask your family, friends, relatives or that special someone what words come to mind when they think of you. As scary as this exercise might sound, I’m quite sure everybody will have something to say about you, no matter what it is. Take notes. These will all be helpful insights into how people perceive you.
How about asking them two questions:
- If you could describe me in just three words, what would they be?
- What do you feel are my unique attributes?
Be aware that the answers may or may not match up with how you want to be perceived (or indeed, how you perceive yourself). But if you ask those close to you, or people you know to be perceptive, chances are they will have a good idea of the real you that shines from within.
Values – are they important?
Yes! You must infuse ‘Brand You’ with your values. This is how you get to do the work you love and love the work you do. It’s how you create a business that attracts customers with complementary values. It means you’ll be able to speak to them with your own, authentic voice, which in turn leads to trust and loyalty.
The specific words you use to describe your values won’t be set in stone as life is a journey and how we see ourselves will always be subject to change and growth, but the underlying principles are an intrinsic part of what makes you, you.
Focus on Strengths
It is tempting, especially in business, to want to be all things to all people. But when we think of the best brands, even the biggest brands, they always play to their strengths.
At school, we’re often conditioned to focus on improving our weaknesses rather than building on our strengths. I’m all for receiving a well-rounded education, but when it comes to business it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of spending all our energy on trying to fix what we’re not so good at instead of changing our business model to work with what we’re awesome at!
Which of your strengths do you most value above all others? How are you putting them to use in your life right now, and could you develop more ways to make the most use of them?
When you’re honest with yourself about your strengths then you’ll find your passions may automatically surface at the same time; after all, it makes sense that what we’re good at makes us feel good too!
What is it that really makes you come alive? When have you felt that spark of joy and feeling like you are on the right track?
Look back from your future
You’re looking back on your life and saying to yourself, ‘I did it!’ What does ‘it’ look like for you? What is your potential realised? What is your vision achieved?
Your vision is at the heart of your personal brand. It’s the best version of you and your life that you can think of; it’s you living and working with purpose and realising your potential.
Put it all together, and….
That’s where the magic is. When you combine your values, strengths, passions and vision, you’ve nailed who you are! You’ll know if you’ve got it right because you’ll be energised and excited by what’s come together. You’ll be itching to get out into the world and to spread the messages according to ‘Brand You’.
When you are working authentically within your personal brand, you develop impact and influence. People feel the real you and trust and connect with you.
That’s the power of personal branding.
ACTION: Who do you know who most authentically lives within their personal brand? I’d love to hear your thoughts. How about leaving a comment below?