Personal Branding For Dummies
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Personal branding is a marketing strategy focused on your most important product: you. Developing a personal brand requires figuring out who you really are (your skills, values, passions, and personality), who you want to serve (your target market or audience), and how you differ from the competition (your unique niche). A successful brand creates a consistent, targeted impression that helps you achieve your personal and professional goals. It also allows you to live authentically because a great brand is always honest; you can’t fake your way into a successful brand.

Building your personal brand

The first step in the personal branding process is to spend time figuring out who you really are and what you want from your life. Often, this self-analysis is the hardest part. Here are the building blocks of your brand that you need to identify:

  • Needs: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a helpful tool that shows layers of needs from the most basic (physiological needs, such as food) all the way up to self-actualization — becoming everything that you are capable of becoming.

  • Values: These are core principles that give meaning to your life — a set of standards that determine your attitudes, choices, and actions.

  • Interests/passions: The things that intrigue and motivate you determine how you want to spend your time.

  • Mission: Everyone should have a mission statement — an expression that clarifies what you are all about and what you want to do in life.

  • Vision: Your ideal version of how you will use your mission is your vision.

  • Strengths: Certain abilities and patterns of interest consistently produce a positive outcome in your life, and these are your strengths.

  • Freak factor: This term refers to a unique quality that makes you different and unusual.

  • Personality attributes: Describing the face that you show to the world helps you define your personality.

  • Education and work experience: These attributes are easy to identify because they’re based on fact.

  • 360º feedback: The people who know you best (such as friends and coworkers) can provide key information about your character.

  • Goals: Getting specific about what you want to achieve greatly increases your chances of success.

  • Target market positioning statement: This tool identifies how your brand will be positioned in your target market. It puts into words what makes your brand important and unique so that the people who need to know about you can clearly understand what you represent.

Your unique promise of value and personal brand statement

Your unique promise of value and your personal brand statement are closely linked; the statement is an expression of the promise. Both of them focus on what your target audience expects from you; they create an expectation of what you can deliver. These are probably the most important pieces of your personal brand profile, so you want to get them right before you start to communicate with your target audience.

  • Your unique promise of value: This is the promise you make to your target market that your brand will fulfill. It clarifies and communicates what makes you special. You must be able to live up to this promise.

  • Your personal brand statement: You use your unique promise of value to write the all-important personal brand statement. When you work on your statement, envision your best self. To begin your thought process on what your brand might include, answer the following questions:

    • What three or four keywords describe your essential qualities quickly and clearly?

    • What is your essence factor, the core of who you are? “I know I am in my element when __________.”

    • What is your authority factor, the knowledge that you hold and the skills that you possess? “People recognize my expertise in _________.”

    • What is your superstar factor, the qualities that set you apart? (This factor is how you get things done or what you’re known for.) “People comment on my ability to ___________.”

To help you get started writing your statement, use this fill-in-the-blanks template. Don’t be constrained by this language; simply use it as a starting point.

I use my ___________ and ___________ for ___________.

Known for ___________, I ___________.

Using ___________ (key trait), I ___________, by providing ___________.

Through my ___________, I ___________, when I serve ___________.

Reaching your target market

To reach the right target market, you need to identify who its members are. Visualize yourself working with your ideal client, company, service, or scenario. For example, here are possible characteristics of an ideal client:

  • Appreciates the work that I do

  • Pays me well and pays in advance

  • Loves the service that I provide

  • Trusts my expertise and lets me serve him or her using my best judgment

  • Refers other dream clients to me

  • Promotes my work to everyone he or she talks to

Dreaming about the perfect situation gets you thinking about who would actually be the right target audience for you to put your time, energy, and effort into pursuing. You then conduct thorough research to locate the people you’ve envisioned.

A positioning statement is a tool used in business to identify how a brand will be positioned in the market. It puts into words what makes a brand important and differentiated so that it is noticed by those who need to know about it.

Here’s how to develop your own statement:

  1. Define your target audience.

    Who do you want to serve?

  2. Figure out your frame of reference.

    What is your point of view? What category do you want to participate in?

  3. Identify points of difference.

    What distinctive benefits do you bring to your target audience? How do you stand out from the competition?

  4. Offer support.

    Support is the evidence that your positioning statement is true. You need credible proof that you are what you say you are.

  5. State your promise or core benefit.

    Here, you pull the four previous pieces together to let your target audience know what the net benefit is to them.

Taking your brand online

You don’t just communicate your personal brand in person; you should communicate your brand online as well. A profile hub can serve as a central point for all your online activity (your blog or website, Twitter account, photo gallery, and so on). Content for your profile may include

  • A brief bio about who you are

  • Links to your social media sites (such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and business fan pages)

  • The name, products, and/or services of your business

  • If appropriate, your key clients

  • Your education

  • Special features that enhance your personal brand, such as a favorite quote or testimonial

  • Videos highlighting who you are and what you do

  • Your photo

  • Links to — or PDF versions of — articles you’ve written, slides, or other visuals you’ve produced

Popular profile hubs include

  • LinkedIn: This site helps you build effective business relationships based on nurturing the “know, like, and trust” factor. If you are just beginning to think about using online tools to showcase your personal brand to your business and social networks, begin with LinkedIn.

  • Facebook: Facebook helps you tell your story in ways that connect, inform, and entertain. This allows you to navigate the gentle balance of being social while also sharing enough of your personal brand to offer a satisfying taste of what others experience when they meet you in person. But, as your mother always told you, be careful who you hang out with! Your community of choice makes an impression.

  • Google+: This social media site integrates several social services such as Google Profiles and Google Buzz, as well as the services Circles, Hangouts, and Sparks.

  • Create a personal home page that’s free and easy to set up. There’s no need to create a website when you can use as your hub. Visitors can view your site without logging on, and you can use it as your central point of contact.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Susan Chritton is a Master Personal Brand Strategist, Executive Career Coach, and Master Career Counselor. She guides professionals looking to engage their authentic self in the world through personal branding. Visit her website at

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