10 Steps To Grow Your Personal Brand
You can learn a tremendous amount about how to establish yourself as a personal brand by reverse engineering the growth of legacy brands.
BRAND: The start of any great brand normally begins with an idea. A seedling that will require lots of tending to before it will form into anything tangible.
PERSONAL BRAND: The same is true for you. The idea of what you want to become is the first stage of building your personal brand but it will require steady attention and lots of action before it has a chance to manifests itself.
BRAND: The second stage is vision. What do we want the company to become? Brands create a vision because it gives them a reference point to determine if they are moving in the right direction.
PERSONAL BRAND: By establish the vision for your brand, you too create a sounding board for deciding where to focus your attention.
BRAND: The difference between a corporate and personal brand is that most corporate brands are faceless. This is because unlike humans, logo’s, when initially created, don’t have any intrinsic characteristics or values that could feasibly create bias against a product or service and therefore provide a great base in which to establish brand values.
PERSONAL BRAND: The logo of your brand is 'you', but that doesn't mean you can't also create a logo that will act as the symbol to encapsulate your values.
BRAND: The next thing a brand has to do is establish its values. Is the brand efficient, sophisticated, silly or green? Once established, these associations and beliefs are then carefully crafted through years of sustained exposure to advertising messages, products and compelling taglines that align with these values. These values are what I like to call 'believable lies' because they have no intrinsic truth other than the belief people manifest through sustained exposure to the messaging. A Coke doesn't make you happy, a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt doesn't make you rich. Wearing a cravat doesn't make you creative or posh, these are just perceptions created by sustained exposure.
PERSONAL BRAND: Your job is to create a set of values for you as well, with the difference being that you create 'aspirational truths' instead of 'believable lies'. What this means is your brand encapsulates your true values only on a higher level so that you can grow into your grand vision over time as your brand grows.
BRAND: After establishing a logo with a carefully crafted message and vision, It's inevitable that the brand will start to get attention from certain kinds of people who also hold those values in high regard. Brands then spend significant sums of money to learn their audiences behaviours, in order to make sure their marketing efforts are effective in building trust. This connection makes it a lot easier for brands to raise awareness, or directly notify their audience when they have new goods and services to sell.
PERSONAL BRAND: This is exactly why knowing who your message appeals to is one of the most important aspects of establishing a personal brand. Because your audience are the people who are one day going to sustain you in return for the value you provide.
BRAND: Once a brand builds a large and loyal audience it, in effect, becomes a story. How did the brand come to be? What was responsible for its growth? These are the kinds of questions that begin to surface and brands with a compelling story are the ones that see the greatest viral growth because people share how the brand came to be.
PERSONAL BRAND: The same is true for you, you have the power to create your story. The trick is, make it interesting and realise that even though your actions may not take off in the moment but over time, as your brand continues to grow, those out of the ordinary actions become your legend. Create a 'remarkable' factor (i.e. worthy of a remark) that helps your brand to grow rapidly by capturing people's imagination.
BRAND: Once all of these things are in place, all the brand has to do is rinse and repeat it's activities and capitalise on the leverage it's created. This is often the stage when brands become stale as they loose their edge and start to play safe in their communication so not to upset any of their audience. Often failing to realise that it was the exciting and remarkable messaging that helped them to grow in the first place.
PERSONAL BRAND: Again, the same is true for you and your brand. It is possible, once you're at this stage to coast on the success you've created. But if you want to remain relevant and at the cutting edge you'll need to keep challenging yourself to come up with clever and more interning ways to engage your audience.
BRAND: Corporate brands install systems and automation in any key but non client facing parts of the business so that they can streamline their processes and continue to grow over time.
PERSONAL BRAND: This is an essential stage for a personal brand as well, because there will come a time when you are unable to do everything and you'll have to work out the most efficient ways to distribute your time. By implementing automation it allows you to free up more precious time. This is when your focus will need to shift towards the greatest opportunities of scale. You'll likely prioritise activities based on their ability to effect as many people as possible and hence earn you the most money in the process.
9. Critical Mass
BRAND: Once a brand gets big, there are times when it will reach a critical mass. At this point the brand will either be satisfied that they dominate the market or they will look for adjacent markets that provide a logical next step for them to explore for additional customers. This might be establishing the brand in a different country, or it might be opening up another offering that runs parallel to the offering they already provide.
PERSONAL BRAND: For a personal brand it's extremely difficult to reach a critical mass. It's more likely that you may reach a saturation point in a field, area or media distribution channel and you'll therefore have to identify new ways to package your message and cultivate new audiences and customers.
BRAND: Brands that are successful at reaching a global audience have the potential to become legacy brands. A brand legacy considers it's historic message and how it came to create a strong perception to the target audience. The brands legacy is normally summed up in a core idea, word or thought that encompasses all facets of the brand, such as 'Think Different' for Apple.
PERSONAL BRAND: To get to this stage as a personal brand is extremely rare. You see it occasionally if an actor or TV personality has established a really strong brand in their respective country, they may try and break in abroad for example.
Those who are successful in establishing their brand in other countries then become known as a 'international or global star' and this gives the individual the greatest potential for building a lasting legacy.
There are examples of individuals who have left legacies in almost every industry, but arguably the most well known fields are Science, Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Business and most recently, Entrepreneurship. The Legacy of an individual is normally a bi product of how many people they, or their message, were able to effect over the course of their lifetime. This can be negatively, with say Hitler. Or positively, with say, Martin Luther King.
The interesting thing about researching those who have gone on to leave a legacy, is identifying how important values and a simple message are to their success. To stand a chance of making even a fraction of this impact you need to know what you believe in whole heartedly. Not only that, but what is unique enough about you that you'll stand out, inspire and cause others to take action when delivering your message? If you can work that out and you start taking action to make your message spread in the best way possible. Then I believe no one can stop you.