Personal branding is hardly new. Rulers have controlled narratives surrounding their identities for millennia. After all, they were the ones everyone heard and cared about. But today, branding power has trickled down to “ordinary” people thanks to the Internet. Now, anyone can leverage their individual statement for power, purpose, and profit—if they strategize upfront.
The problem isn’t whether or not you have a personal brand. Suffice it to say that Google has made it inevitable that you do. However, what a Google search reveals about you may be disappointingly unexciting, showing very little of what makes you a one-of-a-kind. That’s where you have to jump in and craft the image you want based on your strengths and experiences.
We’re all unique on certain levels. Yet most of us don’t take the time to consider what makes us stand out. And that makes it tough to build our personal brand, because we’re simply allowing the chaotic, unorganized web to do it for us.
If you want to capitalize on your individuality and make a name for yourself that will appeal to future clients, business partners, fellow entrepreneurs, or investors, get ready for some deep thinking. Below are several ways to identify your “secret sauce” so you can share your brand with the world.
1. Lay out your lesser-considered expertise.
You have a resume. Great—that’s only the tip of the iceberg, though. Chances are it’s pretty linear and illustrates only a portion of your capabilities, interests, and background. Go a step further and brainstorm everything you’ve done in your life that might impress or surprise others.
Maybe you’re a hardcore recreational triathlete, or perhaps you devote hours to rehabilitating injured turtles. Write down all the skills and adventures you’ve had that you take for granted, including those that you once enjoyed but no longer have time to do. Then, construct links between all those skills and experiences. You’ll have a more comprehensive picture of who you are and what makes you tick.
2. Pinpoint and celebrate your superpowers.
What are you really, really good at? In other words, what are you an expert at, just based on the sheer time you’ve devoted to it over your lifetime? Or, ask yourself, what is your “superpower”? If you’re not sure, think about what everyone asks you for help doing. That’s one of your innate gifts and people know it. And you probably have a dozen others that you don’t realize.
Don’t fret if your superpower seems ordinary, because it’s possible to reframe any superpower as extraordinary. Never assume that what seems unremarkable couldn’t be an amazing superpower on which to build your brand. As a special guest mentioned in a July 2020 Brand Builders Group’s podcast, his personal branding path was much easier to map out and follow after he claimed his superpower, vulnerability.
3. Grab hold of your inner storyteller.
Unless you’re actually setting out to write an autobiography, you don’t necessarily have to create a literal book about the differentiators that make you stand out. However, be open to the idea of creating stories about your life.
Allow yourself to spend 15 minutes daily writing or recording interesting, true anecdotes. Not all the anecdotes you remember or write down will have meaning toward your branding, but many will. In fact, you might be surprised at how interesting your life has been, as well as how much a bit of reflection can help you cement why no one could replace or imitate you.
4. Work with a branding specialist to hone the art of the humble brag.
Getting comfortable with the humble brag can be challenging, especially if you were always taught to downplay your achievements. Yet you’ll need to figure out how to sell yourself without overdoing it if you want your personal brand to resonate with audiences.
Developing a personal brand strategy is tough, but coaches like those at Brand Builders Group can assist you in figuring out what to say about yourself, when to say it, and how to say it in a manner that’s never a turnoff or seems arrogant. They can also work with you to generate messaging that impresses your target audiences, rather than makes you sound like you’re trying too hard.
5. Ask people close to you to give you the 360-degree treatment.
Most of us have friends, family members, and colleagues we trust to give honest feedback. Ask a few of the folks in your inner circle to evaluate you from a 360-degree perspective. Their answers should be frank and focused on your special talents. What can they see you doing with your life? How would they describe you to someone who didn’t know you? What do they think you should be doing that you’re not?
Their responses can fill in branding gaps, particularly if you’re having trouble naming the essence of your personal brand. Make sure to listen without judging their interpretations of you. Just because you don’t see yourself in a specific light doesn’t mean others won’t. Consequently, if your best friend since childhood raves about your ability to teach anything, resist the temptation to deny it. Instead, consider if teaching could be an innate proficiency that can add dimension and depth to your unique brand.
After you’ve delved into the aforementioned techniques to better classify what makes you stand out, you can begin narrowing your branding focus. With all the information you’ve amassed, you should easily be able to start the journey of dreaming up your ultimate branding destination, and then creating a road map to get there. Remember: You needn’t be a star today to become a bright spot for others tomorrow.