Personal Branding 101

By Lampe Omoyele

Long before Kotler, Ries and other marketing and branding apostles came on the scene, King Solomon the Wise recognising the power of personal branding wrote in Proverbs 22: 1 that a good name is better than riches. The phrase a ‘good name’ has a double connotation of character and reputation, and as we shall see later, personal branding is built on these 2 planks.

But first, a crash course in brands and branding.

Branding is the deliberate or inadvertent creation of a positioning or perception in someone’s mind through experiences and associations. It entails storytelling, verbal and non-verbal.

Branding creates brands. A brand is an entity with a distinct identity.

There are various definitions of personal branding but simply, personal branding is the art of articulating and expressing your skills, attributes, personality, values and vision such that your sphere of influence and leadership increases.

Brand or Be Bland!

Branding helps to differentiate, and impacts on influence and leadership. Products that are positively branded are often chosen over similar products because they have a perceived value of being ‘better’.

Global brands such as Coca Cola, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Samsung and Toyota are the world’s most branded. In Nigeria, leading brands such as MTN, GTBank, Indomie noodles, Chivita, and Peak milk are also the most branded within their respective categories.

What does this mean for us as individuals?

We live in a world with over 7 billion people competing within the food chain. Businesses and professionals are operating in an increasingly intense competitive environment. Unemployment rates are soaring. Getting a job is rough. Keeping a job is tough. To survive and thrive, a person or organisation needs to differentiate from the crowd.

Personal branding helps to define who you are. It provides a basis for why an employer or client should hire you. Branding yourself is a way of associating great value with a product, the product being you.

Everything we do—from the way we walk to the way we talk; the way we dress to the company we keep and the places we go—everything we do, either build or diminish a person as a brand.

Why? Because your personal brand is people’s expectation of their future interaction with you based on perceptions of past interactions.

Building Your Personal Brand: The 2(ABC) Model of Personal Branding

I would like to share what I have developed and call the 2(ABC) model of Personal branding.

Personal branding is an art that goes beyond what you know (skills) to who you really are (values) and how you relate with people (personality). A sound personal branding strategy enhances reputation.

So, how can a person build or rebuild a personal brand?

1. Assessment and Authenticity: Know and Be Who You Are

Do a self-assessment – Who are you? As Polonius said in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, to thine own self be true. Identify your purpose and build your unique brand proposition. What are your strengths? What makes you different from other people? Your personal brand is a reflection of your greatest strengths and weaknesses. Build on your strengths; deal with your weaknesses.

Guard against the ‘Tiger Woods Character-Reputation conundrum’ – Personal branding goes beyond spin or whitewashing. Reputation must be built on a strong foundation of character for it to endure. Reputation is what people perceive you to be. Character is your reality, who you really are. Someone has said that reputation is precious but character is priceless. We must be careful not to over-index on reputation to the neglect of character, otherwise we risk entering what I call the ‘Tiger Woods character-reputation conundrum’. If your reputation is more negative than reality, understanding why and correcting erroneous impressions would be necessary. However, it is potentially more dangerous if there is a character deficit where perception is more positive than reality; if the negative reality or character flaws are not quickly addressed, it can destroy reputation as seen in the Tiger Woods experience.

2. Beliefs and Boldness: Courage to Stick With Your core Values and Principles

Identify and focus on Your Core Values and Principles – What do you stand for? Take a hint from your personality traits to find out what values are important to you. Values act as compass that helps you stay the course of your true North.  Mine include Respect, Integrity, Simplicity and Excellence. What are yours?

3. Consistency and Credibility: Keep Your Word and Be Ethical

Live With Integrity; Keep Your Word – Harry S. Truman said ‘integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word’. Be ethical. As I read somewhere, leadership is not about position and power, but character and influence. Consistent acts of integrity increase influence. Every day, we write our biography and legacy.

Network With Purpose and Etiquette – It’s not just about who you know, but who knows you. Personal branding is about recognition and relevance. Develop a web presence but manage it well.

Execute a Personal Social Responsibility (PSR!) Agenda – Contribute to worthy causes. Use your time, talent and treasure for the good of others. Go beyond yourself. Do good to do well.

Be the Best You Can Be – As an SMS I once got says: when others are sleeping, sit up; when others sit up, stand up; when others stand up, stand out; when they stand out, be outstanding.

Refresh and Stay Relevant – Be a learning person; learn from your mistakes. Personal brand equity is built overtime.

Recapping: The 2(ABC) model of Personal Branding:

  • Assessment and Authenticity.
  • Beliefs and Boldness.
  • Consistency and Credibility.

This article first appeared on www.lampeomoyele.com

Lampe Omoyele is a widely respected leader and mentor in the marketing and advertising industry of sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently Managing Director at Nitro 121, one of West Africa’s leading marketing communication and brand management companies, and Partner, Lucent Consulting Company.

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