If you're sceptical about the power of personal branding, it might be worth taking notes from Richard Branson. The Virgin CEO owes his multimillion-dollar empire to the way he's mastered his own brand, effectively spinning his own values into a narrative customers connect with and understand. It's also no coincidence that Steve Jobs was able to reverse Apple's fortune when he let his own brand story shine through. Presenting himself as a visionary leader allowed Jobs to transform his relationships with stakeholders and investors.
You don't have to send passengers to space or be a tech icon for personal branding to take your business to new heights - the ability to successfully tell your customers who you are can widen your market presence and leave your competitors in the dust. Branding has become as intrinsic to small business success as nailing your inventory or perfecting customer service. Unfortunately, failure to recognise the power of personal branding can see business owners undermine their own best efforts.
Luckily, technology and the social web have made it easier than ever to establish a brand and construct an executive presence. Here is our roadmap to personal branding success.
Get comfortable with your niche
Knowing you're the best in your field is useless if you're unsure how to define and package your own abilities. That's why it pays to understand your niche and take strides to position yourself as an expert. If you're unsure as to how to go about this, try summing up what you want to be known for in a single sentence and use this as the basis for your unique branding campaign. Consistently communicating your strengths and expertise is a wiser move than painting yourself as a jack of all trades.
Understand how others view you
It might seem unlikely, but factors such as your interests, passions and personality can have a radical impact on how people perceive your business and shape the way your personal brand plays out. Don't be afraid to speak with friends, colleagues and clients about the way they view you as well as your strengths and weaknesses - you might be surprised at what you find. Once you've determined the qualities your networks associate with you, it's time to use these to your advantage. Choose the trait or talent you want to be most known for and commit to highlighting this meaningfully to your audience.
Curate your online presence
Whether it's LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, social media has made it easy to develop and curate a compelling brand. Many business owners, however, fail to ensure their social media presence complies with their personal values and their brand equity suffers as a result. Although it's important to aim for consistency, it's more essential to be authentic in all that you do. Sharing links, posts and updates that genuinely resonate with you will do more for your brand than forging a fake persona ever could.
Don't be afraid to share your story
It's no secret that the entrepreneurs that stick in our minds are those that lay claim to the most compelling story. Unfortunately, many business owners refrain from sharing their personal narrative in the fear that it will damage credibility. However, sharing pieces of your life on social media or in your website's "About" section can create customer intimacy and give your business a human face. Just be careful not to overshare - unless you want a virtual record of your professional mistakes.
Once you've successfully built your personal brand, it's important to ensure that it evolves in line with your business. Make sure you monitor and evaluate it on a regular basis to ensure it's working for you - not against you.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Neha Kale is a freelance writer and editor with over six years’ experience in the media and finance industries. She has held senior editorial positions at various business and technology publications and specialises in online strategy, innovation, creativity and management best practices.