Two Dimensions of Personal Branding
Brands have become an integral part of our life…. we are associated with brands for everything, right from the toothpaste, toothbrush, the soaps, shampoos, deodorants, shoes, pens, cars, laptops, and your organization. Traditionally, we all have been thinking that branding is for products only. No sir, branding is for people as well. In the modern era, everything is a brand. Our film stars, cricketers, businessmen, politicians…yes you are right they all are brands.
Personal branding, just like the product branding, is a sort of process that intends to make you distinct and give you a different identification mark. Throughout this article we will be studying how Personal Branding is essential and how it can add value to our personal as well professional life. There are two dimensions to personal branding - First is for the outer world and the second is for us.
A product might be outstanding, cost effective etc; however, it will sell only if it is known to people, at the same time it is available at the right time and place. This refers to the brand visibility. When you go to shop to buy something, what catches your attention first may not necessarily be the best product (quality or cost wise), but it is the product that is well presented. Even in your college days, you must have experienced that you are attracted prima facie to the person's looks, dress and the way he/she carries it and not the real nature or other characteristics of that person.
Therefore, advertising and the nature of advertisements or other activities of publicity closely serve the purpose. If you observe the advertisements, slogans and other medium of advertising, you will notice that most of these traits don’t focus on the characteristics of the product. In fact, a whole lot of advertisements are not relevant to the product characteristics at all. Ever wondered why is that the case? I believe that the aim is to create a hype of the product and get it associated with something that people will remember easily like the film stars, small babies, pets, jokes or humor. Finally, you will accept that when it comes to buying a product, consciously or unconsciously, what drives the decision-making at the first place is the way that product is presented. The quality, costs etc take the second place.
Well, this was for products, but I assure you that the same applies for us. We all have been talking of CAs v/s MBAs since long. We need to realize, that our knowledge and technical skill sets maybe far better than many others, but the deciding factor to hire us or to give more premium to us will be driven primarily by the way we present ourselves. And I strongly believe that we lack on it. So, the first dimension of personal branding is to present yourself in such a way that one should be left with no doubts to hire you for a job or to choose you as their preferred service provider and give you a higher premium over others. Here you have to position yourself in a particular way in order to sell. Just like certain products are positioned, for e.g. CCD positions itself as a youth hangout whereas barista positions itself as a symbol of excellent coffee. You have to use your unique selling point and act accordingly.
The second dimension of personal branding is for your own self. I think we should ask ourselves, who I am without this educational qualifications/company’s brand/ father’s position etc. Do I have my own identity in the society/industry which is independent of my educational qualifications, which is independent of the brand name for whom I am working for, or my father/relatives identity? Am I
getting respect just because of having certain educational qualifications / knowledge / father’s designation / legal provisions… etc or am I getting respect for what I am in reality?
Whatever a person achieves, he achieves it because of his attitude.
In one of the case studies of Harvard, they had mentioned that normally, when it comes to choose work partners we choose those whom we are comfortable with or whom we like and not the real talented ones. Imagine, you have taken education from the best schools in this world and you go to work. If you are not good in speech, if you don’t respect others, if you treat them as servants, if you won’t follow certain ethics…will you achieve anything? Will people ever choose to work with you? That makes me conclude that it is not the aptitude but it is the attitude that determines the altitude.
The most successful people in the industry are not the most intelligent people, nor are they most knowledgeable people. So, you will agree that people get certain work/post not primarily because of knowledge/educational qualifications, but because they are liked by the people around, because they have a charismatic personality, good communication skills, workplace ethics and other qualities of that type.
If you have certain resources, and you desire that those resources should give you a sustained competitive and comparative advantage in the long run, then you should make sure that the resources which you have are Valuable, Rare, not imitable and not so easily Substitutable. Educational qualifications are valuable in the short run to get a job, but in the long run many people can have the educational qualifications you have. These educational qualifications will no longer remain relatively valuable, nor will they remain rare in the long run. The same is the case for knowledge, which can be availed by many people in long run. Possessing 5-10 educational qualifications or some knowledge cannot make you the market leader, this is because thousands of people have multiple qualifications and loads of knowledge, and in future thousands could easily have all this. Therefore, knowledge and educational qualifications do not possess those necessary qualities of valuable, rare, non imitable and substitutable. Although they help us in learning various things, make our living, but surely they are not the primary reasons for any real achievements.
When the foundations of success are based on something that comes from within us there is no threat.
You can be a good brand by constantly focusing on having your own identity in the society/industry which is made up of your own emotional and rational attributes, strengths, weaknesses, your way of dealing with people, situations AND which is independent of your educational qualifications/knowledge and other outer factors.
Our own brand name can be valuable, rare, not imitable and not substitutable so easily. Therefore, one must try to have the foundations of his success laid down on his own brand name and not the brand name of the institutes he is associated with.
When your brand becomes heavier than the brands of all educational institutes you have attended, organizations you have worked for and all other things which are outside your control, you will get a real sense of achievement. And remember your own brand is made up of your own qualities, your nature, attitude, emotions etc. It shows how much you respect yourself, how you see yourself and how much you know and love yourself. When you will emerge as a brand name, you will be known and respected for what you really are and not for your materialistic achievements like educational qualifications / knowledge / dad’s designation etc.
If your are proud of being associated with an educational body / institute, the organization you work for or the family you belong to, you should also make sure that they should be equally proud to be associated with you. This will be possible only when you will emerge as a brand and be known and respected for what you are as a person. Therefore, personal branding is essential for professional success.
Here are a few important points to keep in mind while branding you –
You should know who you are. The more you know yourself, the more you will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses and be able to focus on strengths and overcoming weaknesses.
By doing the above, you will be able to learn how to use your assets to build your brand. Most of the times, the things that make you unique, distinct from all others are hidden somewhere, this is because of lack of self-knowledge and attempts to focus only on outer world.
Try to find yourself a place in the industry, seek an identity for yourself in this world which is purely yours, which is independent of all other things outside you. Visualize this identity i.e. this shows how you see yourself today, and in next few years. Once you are clear about this, you may write it down and then try to find a suitable way of achieving it. Keep appraising yourself for the same regularly. This visual image of yours is important for you in order to communicate with yourself and the world about who you are, who you want to be and what you expect from others. Identify how you will be able to bring in line or in balance your personal, professional and career goals and life.
Finally, combine both the dimensions of your brand –
Present yourself in such a way that you looked polished and professional; you will boost your confidence and belief in yourself.
Highlight your identity. Your identity as discussed above is the one which is made up of your own emotional and rational attributes, strengths, weaknesses, your way of dealing with people, situations AND which is independent of your educational qualifications/knowledge and other outer factors.
You should make sure that by combining both the dimensions, you are sending the same message consistently.
It is very important for organizations to promote and develop personal brands. This will add to the overall brand value of the organization.
As individuals, you as a brand add to the overall brand value of your organization at the same time get a higher premium for your brand value.