At our recent MEG meetup, we talked about having a personal brand, what this means exactly, and whether we’re making the most of it.
The whole concept of the personal brand has become much more prominent in the digital age, with the widespread use of social media platforms for business, such as LinkedIn.
However, depending on how you develop and use it, a personal brand can work against you as well as for you.
Like branding in general, you’ve got to understand what your personal brand represents, and how best to use it.
Personal Brand and Reputation
Is your personal brand really just your reputation? The answer is no. While personal brand and reputation are closely linked, they are different to each other.
To truly have a personal brand, you must first define it, whereas your reputation is how others see you, whether you have worked on your personal brand or not.
However, there are the raw elements of a personal brand are already there, because when people communicate face to face or even online, how they view another business very much depends on the person representing it.
In the services sector especially, a brand can be almost entirely person-based. In many businesses, a client comes on board because they like and grow to trust an individual point of contact.
This is also why big service brands such as utilities providers persistently attempt to personalise how they interact with customers, even if it’s restricted to live online chat.
But really, your personal brand should be expressing your uniqueness.
Raising Brand Awareness
This is where building a personal brand differs from your reputation. To make your personal brand work you are looking for others to instantly recognise who you are and what you stand for.
Imagine a well-known film with familiar, quotable lines. That’s the kind of recognition a personal brand should aim for.
What it requires is persistence and, importantly, consistency.
And reputation comes into it, because when you build a personal brand, there can be reputational risks attached.
Pride and Pitfalls
A personal brand should help you stand out from the surrounding noise, but to do this you must display integrity and an interest in other people.
Too much ego and too much pride on display are likely to repel rather than attract.
Another potential pitfall is how you wield your personal brand. It’s fine to offer opinions, so long as they are in keeping with your brand values and they don’t either needlessly upset others or represent something that is objectively inaccurate.
Just as social media can boost your personal brand, so it can also help magnify and spread reputational damage.
To make your personal brand effective it must align with your business objectives, and with your business brand.
Any misalignment may impact negatively on you and your business.
For example, you cannot present a very human, approachable side to your business if, when it comes to the crunch, how your processes then deal with clients are distant and administrative.
Ultimately, developing a personal brand is about more than just being nice to people (though obviously there’s nothing wrong in doing this).
It’s about how the essence of who you are can positively influence how you do business with others.
What is MEG?
MEG is Manchester Enterprise Group, providing mutually supportive networking in a pressure-free, friendly environment.