Cover Story Part I
Cover Story | “You, My Friend, Are a Brand”

“You, My Friend, Are a Brand.”

- 5 Steps to Building a Strong Personal Brand
“You, My Friend, Are a Brand” - 5 Steps to Building a Strong
Personal Brand

In the words of Barry Feldman, a content marketing expert, you, indeed, are a brand.

What is a brand? It is an image and value statement that is, usually subconsciously, associated with a product or organisation instantaneously. In many aspects of your life, there is a need to ‘pitch’ and ‘position’ yourself as well, be it applying to a top university or vying for a coveted role in an MNC. A personal brand is what you are known for, and what can be expected of and from you.

To build a strong personal brand, it must be firmly constructed on three ‘C’ foundations:
Clarity. Canniness. Consistency.

Clarity is the clear and transparent ‘message’ of your skills, values, and character. There must be no ambiguity or hesitation on the part of your target audience on what your brand stands for.

Canniness is the artful craft and communication of the message. What should your brand be about? What are the methods you are going to capitalise on to publicise it? Lastly, consistency. Brands are built over time. Because reputations take time to form. And a reputation is based on a reliant, persistent image that is fuelled by consistency. Simply put, you cannot change your story flippantly or frequently.

So how do you achieve these three pillars in creating a solid personal brand? These five steps may help you in reaching there.

1. Establish VIPS

Logically, the first step would have to be discovering and determining what you want your brand to be. One method is establishing your VIPS – Values, Interests, Personality, and Skills.

Values are uncompromising motivators which drive your actions and choices that your target audience will attribute to.

Interests are what you choose to spend your time on and activities that you enjoy. It will and can serve as an external reflection of what you are like which in turn will grant an insight into who you are.

The information that are gathered from these two areas will form the impression of your personality – namely what your actions and mindsets are, and how your disposition would be in various settings. Usually, what target audiences are investing in is the person.

Lastly, skills are areas of expertise and value-addedness that you can offer in the transaction. Establish these four aspects firmly and clearly, and you will have yourself a strong starting point.

2. Guarantee Value-addedness

The purpose of building a brand is letting your target audience know exactly what you can offer them. Think of it as the return on investment should they engage or hire you. Create a focused niche that is unique and specialised and devote energy in developing and promoting those areas.

Ensure that your brand’s value-addedness is crystal clear so that target audiences can easily and instantly identify, and be attracted to, its merits and benefits.

3. Create, Create, and Create Some More

After you have worked past the first two steps, it is time to create content to showcase that value-addedness. Depending on what you are offering, the content you create will differ. However, the common idea is to develop a portfolio.

How much content should you produce? As much as possible. This is to increase visibility, emphasis, and relevance of your brand. Be pro-active, be resourceful, and be creative. Start with the end in mind, which in this case would be what your brand is, and work backwards on the kind of content that will best amplify and accentuate that.

4. Source Platforms

The next step would be to brainstorm, identify, and shortlist platforms to post and publicise your content on. Though not necessary, creating a personal web page is an effective way to ‘own’ and centralise your brand. You may choose to purchase a domain name, or host it on one of the free publishing platforms.

You may also want to consider creating a customised e-mail address to accompany your website, akin to transforming your brand into a ‘business’. This step highly connotes a formality and officiality in your brand, which will come across favourable in the eyes of your target audiences.

Next, would be to create a ‘social media web’ around your brand. Set up professional Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, whichever is relevant to your brand, and populate content there. Insert backlinks to your other content that will move and direct your target audiences from one platform to another, but constantly in the web of your brand. That is what you want – to retain reader traffic for as long as possible, and not an ‘enter and exit’ movement and behaviour.

Aim to have stamps of authority on your brand too. Seek out established, well-known, and respected platforms and request to contribute content on their sites or work with them. This will develop visibility and credibility for your brand.

5.Audit Brand

Constantly and conscientiously review your brand’s content. Use feedback to understand what interests your target audiences. Comments, likes, and reposts are useful tools in gaining an insight into the direction you should take with your content and brand, so you may be able to refine it along the way.

For the more tech-savvy, digital marketing tools are helpful in collecting more statistical and technical data that translates into target audiences’ preferences.

Investing time and energy in creating a strong personal brand now will reap benefits in the long run, which will smoothen the road ahead of you when you seek enrollment, employment, or engagements of sorts.

Your work has not ended here after crafting a strong personal brand. In fact, it is only the beginning. You now need to analyse your brand to see how successful it will be. Turn to the next page to learn how to perform a SWOT Analysis on your personal brand.