By Wisdom Sablah

When branding is mentioned, our minds are often drawn to mega companies and celebrities who rule the media space. However, these celebrities and companies are only the tip of the branding iceberg. Actually, branding is significant much closer to home. Branding begins with you.

As Tom Peters puts it: “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.” Now here’s the bone-jarring truth: you have been cultivating a brand whether you realize it or not and your success in life depends on the brand you create. Here are five necessary actions for building a solid and magnetic personal brand.

1. Develop a Personal Brand Vision

For starters you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my skills and experiences?
  • What are my career goals and aspirations?
  • What do I want to be known for?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What makes me different?

The personal brand you craft is hinged on your answer to those questions. In this digital age, image is everything. You must have a clear picture of what you want people to think of you and the impression you want to leave with others. Define your brand and write it down.

Put your best foot forward. Emphasize your uniqueness and highlight the things that make you stand out. Without doubt, there will be people in your field who are more skilled or have a great following, but consider how you can offer your products and services in a refreshing and creative way. There’s always opportunity if you’re willing to look.

2. Define Your Target Audience

The irony of personal branding is that it’s not really about you; it’s about others. What you can offer to others in a unique way is actually your personal brand.

Without your target audience, you might as well be shooting arrows into space. Know the bull’s eye, the people who you are interested in your services. Segment your audience and narrow it down by age, interests, demographics, etc. Find out where they live and what they love to do. Find out about their frustrations and what they want most. Don’t take for granted the interactions you have on a daily basis with ordinary people; there are often gold nuggets in there.

You can explore options such as surveys and read extensively about your target audience through reviews and forums.

3. Honor Your Values

In a world plagued by scandals and pitfalls, values are currency. Values are magnetic. Don’t pull the wool over other’s eyes; be you, be real and be authentic.

Personal branding is not a license to dish out lies and deceive people about who you truly are, because building on lies is like having your foundation firmly planted mid-air. The greatest error is trying to be an imitation of someone else. Of course, there are people who will mentor you and whose achievements you’ll aspire to; however, you can’t be them, you’ll always be you. As Oscar Wilde says, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Integrity and excellence are only two among several values you can hinged your brand on. These values are immortal.

4. Craft and Fine-Tune Your Profiles

Your personal brand cuts across two spheres: online and in-person. You might be the best at what you do, but if no one knows about it, it’s all waste. Take advantage of social media platforms to build online profiles that cement your reputation. Having a website is a no-brainer.

If you offer a service, make inroads into content marketing. Online, you must intentionally build your online profile through platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Learn how to be social media savvy and while at it, you should also ensure every post is consistent with your brand and values. Engage with people online, be polite and personable and develop great communication skills.

5. Keep Improving and Monitoring Your Brand

Here’s the deal, personal branding is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Until you become a student of a subject, you can never master it. Personal branding is no different. Tips and tricks are great, but if you want to build a sustainable personal brand you must be an avid learner, reader, thinker and researcher. It’s not rocket science; it’s simple science. You need to keep monitoring your brand, learning and evolving with the times. Get resources on personal branding and read to acquaint yourself with best practices.

Additionally, you have to be intentional about monitoring your brand. In the complex world of social media, you have to constantly evaluate what people are saying about you and the services you render. As your brand grows you may have to engage reputation management tools and analytics to help you track every mention, comment and feedback. The more you monitor your brand, the better you get at safeguarding and improving it.