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Personal Branding 101: “But I Don’t Need a Personal Brand”

I once had a business owner tell me, “Nick, I don’t need a personal brand. My business isn’t flashy and neither am I. My customers know me as trustworthy, honest, and reliable—what more do I need than that?”

What he didn’t realize is that, in stating that he didn’t need a personal brand, he had just identified his personal brand! Namely, this business owner is known to be “trustworthy, honest, and reliable.”

I share this story to correct the misconception that a personal brand is something only for Hollywood celebrities and public figures. The reality is this: everyone has a personal brand. Your personal brand is simply the collection of thoughts and emotions that your friends, family members, customers, clients, prospects, and competitors have whenever you cross their mind.

Everyone has a personal brand—but that doesn’t mean that it’s a positive image. For instance, some business owners may be considered arrogant or unconcerned with customer service. In some cases, this negative brand conception may be accurate—but in others, it can result simply through miscommunication.

As a business owner, you cannot afford to have a miscommunication when it comes to creating your personal brand—which is why it is critical that every business owner deliberately define and communicate his or her personal brand.

That doesn’t mean you have to appear on TV or plaster your smiling face on billboards throughout the city—that’s a strategy that is appropriate for some businesses, but not every business. You don’t have to become somebody that you aren’t. Your personal brand should reflect and enhance your personality, not distort it. If loyalty, honesty, and a focus on relationships are important components to your personality, those are the attributes that your personal brand should be built around.

Personal branding is not about becoming someone you’re not—it’s not about changing who you are. Personal branding is about enhancing your personality and your unique points of differentiation… and it’s about making sure that you are properly understood by your market.

Whether you recognize it or not, you already have a personal brand. The real question is this… do you have control of your personal brand—and are you happy with it? If you don’t define your personal brand, you are leaving it up to others to do so for you. If you’d like to learn more about defining a personal brand that appeals to your market and your customers, contact me today!