The Era of “Personal Branding” – Are You Ready for it?
“Look at all those YouTubers, Kritesh. I’m really jealous of them when I watch their luxurious lifestyle. All they do is to drive their fancy cars, make a fancy video and put it on their fancy youtube channel. And they are getting millions of views for that fancy crap and earn thousands of fancy dollars daily.”, Vaibhav said to me annoyingly.
“Yeah, I’m also a little jealous of their lifestyle. BUT THEY HAVE EARNED IT. Unlike us, they’ve followed their dream and I’m sure that they definitely had sacrificed a lot of things to reach the point where they are now.”, I replied to Vaibhav.
“What do you mean by THEY HAVE EARNED IT? I can make even better videos and put them on Youtube…”, Vaibhav answered swiftly.
“Then why don’t you, Vaibhav?”, I asked smoothly.
“You know why I can’t” he replied with little distress.
Vaibhav has been working at an IT company for the last two years. He generally enjoys his work. However, for the last three months — things have changed a little for him. He is working with a new US- based client. Because of the time difference, he has to work in the night shift. He goes to work at around 11 AM and never returns home before 2 AM. And this change in office timings has added a lot of complications in Vaibhav’s life.
“That’s not what I meant to say. It’s not that you or I can’t do it. I was saying that they have earned it because they have built a very powerful personal brand. The channel which you are watching has over 560k subscribers. It takes a lot of time and efforts to build such a huge brand. And no matter what he does now, his loyal subscribers will be always there for him.”, I tried to chill Vaibhav.
“You’re right. He has earned it. Building a youtube channel with over 560k subscribers is not a joke. I don’t have even 500 friends on my facebook profile.”, Vaibhav said with a little smile.
“Yeah, that’s right. And this is because you are a d**k who doesn’t even accepts the friend request of his parents.”, I replied with a big laughter.
Personal branding is not a new thing. This is how actors, celebrities or sportsperson are able to make a huge fortune even when after they get retired or when they are not working in their same profession.
Moreover, branding no longer just related to the companies. Due to the boom of social media and the internet, anyone can build a huge personal branding these days. Look at your facebook, twitter or Instagram profile. Those can also be considered as a small personal branding.
“We are all brands!!”
However, a few people have built a powerful personal branding around them which helped them to reap a lot of perks. Now, before we dive into the personal brand, let’s first understand what actually is a “BRAND”.
“A Brand is not a LOGO. It is a PROMISE!”
In simple words, when you have a brand, it is a promise that you make and are known for keeping it to the person who you are asking or trying to influence. This promise can be anything like your amazing products, services, values, quality, excellence, innovation etc.
When this promise revolves around an individual, then it is called personal branding. Few well-known examples of personal brands in the world are Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Tracy, Michelle Obama, Robert Branson, Tim Ferris etc. Further, few examples of personal branding in India are Bhuvan Bam from BB ki vines, Shirley Setia, Sandeep Maheshwari, Dr. Vivek Bindra etc.
“Personal brands allow individuals to differentiate themselves by consistently articulating and leveraging their unique value proposition.”
In the recent times, a lot more people have started exploring this option as a career choice. You might already have heard about the famous YouTubers or Instagram celebrities with millions of subscribers/followers. Even people who do not have such a huge following in millions, still are able to build a big enough personal branding to live a chilled life.
Besides, having a good personal branding is really important these days. There are many people who have a very high potential but are unsuccessful because of the way they are perceived by other people. When personal branding done wrong, it can severely affect the career or livelihood of the person. On the other hand, if you have a powerful personal brand, people will pay more for your services and argue less.
6 Steps to build a powerful brand:
“ Your job is to do your job really well. Continually think every day how you can be better than you were yesterday.” -Brin Tracy
Building a powerful personal brand is not an easy task. It requires a lot of efforts for long consistent years. However, when done right, personal branding can exponentially grow your career. Here are six actionable things that you can do to build a powerful personal brand:
1. Specialize in a niche
If you want to stand out, the first thing that you need is a specialization. This specialization can be in any field of your interest like cooking, swimming, entertaining, martial arts, blogging, photography etc. But you have to choose at least one area where you can become better than 90% of the rest of the world. You cannot do all things for everyone.
And for this specialization, you might need to invest in yourself first. Maybe you can do some courses, read books, attend seminars, conferences etc. Nonetheless, you need to specialize in a niche of your interest around which you want to build your personal brand.
2. Start Thinking Yourself As A Brand
“A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of a consumer.”
If you want to build a powerful personal brand, you need to start thinking of yourself as a brand. You are not an average individual anymore, which no notices or cares. You need to think from the prospects of your followers or the audience whom you are trying to influence.
A brand is a promise. And you need to define this promise to your followers. You need to focus on how you wish your brand to be perceived by people or what pops-up in the people’s head when they think of you. And when you are a clear vision of the perceived brand image that you want to reflect, start working on it daily.
3. Build a Followership
A good point regarding building a followership is that it is not very difficult these days. If you were born 25 years ago, maybe the only way to build a followership among a huge audience was by getting interviewed in a newspaper or appearing on the television.
However, these days it’s really simple. For example, by just setting a simple blog, you can reach out to a huge worldwide audience without any restriction of location, age or culture. Moreover, blogs/websites are not the only options available these days. Many people don’t even have a blog, but their entire personal branding is based on the free social media platforms like Youtube channel or Facebook page. Instagram is also a very alternative these days to get followers and build a personal brand.
My advice, find a social media on which you are comfortable and start working on your personal brand today. For example, if you good in writing, start a blog; If you like making videos, start a youtube channel; good in audio/music, start a podcast; like taking photographs, join Instagram etc.
Quick Note: When you are building your personal brand, it’s really important to audit your online presence first. A simple google search for yourself by a potential follower may build or destroy your brand. And that why you need to customize your online presence. Run a simple google audit regarding your name and find out what it displays. If it doesn’t display anything, then it means that you are yet to build a brand. On the other hand, if there are already few powerful existing brands or personalities on your name, then you might need to think of an alternative to differentiate your self.
4. Add value to your followers
A brand always begins with your values. What do you stand for?
“I help small business to improve their online presence…”
“I help people by helping them to boost their confidence to reach their true potential…”
You need to add value to people’s lives in order to build your brand. The people will remember you and look up to you if you are solving any of their problems or adding value to their life.
Else, an alternative is to entertain them. Either add value or entertain. There are only two methods to engage with your audience. The best scenario is when you are adding value and also entertaining your audience at the same time.
5. Network with other brands
“Your network is your net worth.” ~ @portergale
While building a personal brand, networking is the key. Until and unless you network with other brands, it’s really difficult to grow faster and reach a bigger audience.
When you are just starting your personal branding, always start networking with the 3C’s -College, Colleague, and Company. These people are easy to reach out and connect. Further, leverage your existing networks and participate in conferences, meetups etc to build new networks.
6. Be consistent
The seventh and final point to build your personal branding is by being consistent.People care more about how consistent you are rather than how good you are. Consistency builds a trust among the people. If you show up at their door every day, they will remember you.
Therefore, be consistent and work every day.
Having a big brand helps people to get paid more for their product and services with fewer arguments or justifications. However, it will take time and efforts to build your personal brand, but it is totally worth it. After all, personal branding may be the only thing that no one else can take away from you.
Finally, here are the five simple rules of building a personal brand- “Be Diligent, be consistent, be relevant, be interesting and be yourself’.