Personal branding is a hot topic and yet most people don’t understand what building a “Personal Brand” actually means. Having a "brand" is very different from branding and yet many Entrepreneurs and Business Owners completely avoid building their personal brand in fear of being seen as that shameless self-promoter.
What if we’re missing the point - as well as a massive opportunity? According to Glen Carlson, small business and brand expert, this mentality is keeping founders and their businesses stuck in a “struggle zone”.
Carlson is the co-founder of Key Person of Influence, a company that is rapidly becoming known as one of the top business growth accelerators in the world.
“You can’t avoid having a personal brand,” says Carlson. “Your brand is an expression of who you are and whether you like it or not, you already have one.”
“Simply put," Carlson says, “Your brand is what you’re known for; what you stand for and what you stand against, your products and services, the people you associate with. All of these elements contribute to the way people see you.”
The mistake that most of us make is confusing "brand'' for "branding''. Branding is the creative expression (the look, the feel, your logo and so on), often cooked up by agencies or branding experts, that aims to most accurately represent your brand.
Too many people make the mistake of focusing on branding before understanding what their brand is in the first place. This is like trying to perfume a pig.
"It shows up as a veneer. Transparent. Hollow. Vapid!” Carlson exclaimed.
When I look at the most influential people in any industry, most have paid little attention to developing they’re branding. Instead, they have placed intense focus on developing their brand. Their reputation.
“Your personal brand shouldn’t be about you,” says Carlson, “It should be about the ideas and ideologies that you represent.”
Richard Branson is known for shaking up old industries, Warren Buffet is associated with value-based investing for the long term and Elon Musk has transformed how we think about transportation and harnessing energy.
So how do you avoid the Dan Bilzerian style showing off and get straight to developing a highly influential brand? According to Carlson, there are five immutable principles that define your brand.
1. Your pitch.
Take time to craft a quick pitch that effectively communicates what you want to be known for in a way that makes it easy for other people to talk about it. Let's call it your social pitch. It’s how you might introduce yourself to someone you just met at a bar to get their attention.
2. Publishing your ideas.
Be prolific with publishing your ideas, beliefs, philosophy, ideology and message. The more you publish your best thinking, the more you’ll become known for your ideas.
3. Align with valuable products.
You need to align yourself with the right mix of products and services. Great entrepreneurs and leaders are able to make excellent choices when it comes to what they sell. Make, source, innovate, reinvent and find unique and valuable ways to deliver your value.
4. Raising your profile.
You need to raise your profile both online and in traditional media. It isn’t about feeding your ego, it’s about sharing your ideas with more people. The more seen, known and recognized you are, the more opportunity will flow your way.
5. Connected partnerships.
Actively pursue partnerships with other influential brands and people that have the respect and trust of your target market. By association, their brand rubs off on your brand. You get to rapidly accelerate how you build reach and trust with the people who matter in your industry.
Armed with these key principles you will be able to avoid the mistake of prioritizing branding over brand, focusing instead on building a personal brand that yields true influence in your industry.
Related: 11 Ways to Earn Respect at Work