A brand is a promise of the value you get from the product—it is an idea people get from the company’s service, culture and product. A brand is so much more than the logo, and it is a crucial part of the customer’s decision to buy or partake of the product. Building a brand of your own is your chance to build a relationship with a total stranger, someone you haven’t even met yet.
Not branding yourself may seem like the right, modest thing to do, but you will be missing a golden opportunity to get your name out into the world. Knowing how to market yourself honorably will help you when you go seeking jobs and promotions later on down the line. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, especially when you have taken the time to craft an honest, polished image of yourself.
Just to be clear, “self-promotion” as a phrase has a slightly pejorative ring to it because a lot of people do it badly. When you promote yourself, you are creating a personal brand for and of yourself. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it:
- Know your purpose: think hard, write a mission and personal branding statement, do your homework.
- Deliver on what you say you will and can do.
- Be honest about who you are to yourself and others.
- Research what others are doing to get a sense of best practices.
- Promote your best ideas and techniques, things that will actually benefit the person you are trying to reach.
- Express yourself honestly and let your style shine through.
- Make your personal brand a whole campaign: create a site, business card, resume and other materials that form a cohesive whole.
- Stand for something and stick to it passionately.
- Seek out ways to be helpful to others and build some good karma.
- Get the focus off yourself and emphasize how you can be useful to others.
- Be transparent and authentic: with all the information available out there, there is no use lying.
- Do not insult the user to make yourself look good.
- Don’t promote yourself at the expense of others.
- Don’t mistake self-adulation for self-promotion.
- Don’t sell who you want to be or who you think others want you to be.
- Don’t crow about your past achievements. Someone else has always done more and better.
- Don’t compromise quality for any reason.
How to develop your brand:
Who are you? What can you do better than those around you? What are the things of which you can be most proud? Where do you come from? What is your history?
Ask for honest feedback from those around you.
Ask several friends and family members to describe you with 3 adjectives each in order to get a general idea as to how you come across. You will have to sift through the feedback in the end to decide what is most valuable to you—don’t be afraid to ignore some of the comments, just be ready to hear all of them.
Be brutally honest with yourself.
Unless you are able to honestly appraise yourself and to hear the remarks of others about you, you are not ready to create a substantial brand for yourself.
Be ready to do the work.
We will go over how to start this process, but you need to be ready to continue periodically updating and polishing your brand. It is a process, not a finite one-time deal. Also, it will take most of your time actually acquiring the skills and experiences you will need to keep your brand up-to-date and relevant.
Put others first.
Be of service to those around you: you will build your reputation and accrue experience that will flesh out your resume. Be sure to do it for the pleasure of doing it, not just as a means to an end.
Be ready to constantly improve your skillset.
It’s not enough to have a snazzy logo. You need to always improve upon your skills.
Apply your brand to everything you put out there, consistently and with care. The better you are about applying your brand across all channels, the more cohesive your brand will be.
Articles used to write this lesson:
Self Promotion – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Versions of Self Presentation | By Jan Verhoeff | 2009
The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion | by Nathan Hangen | February 8, 2010
The Brand Called You | By Tom Peters | December 18, 2007
The Art of Self-Branding: Part One | Lea Alcanta
Self promotion | Seth Godin | December 18, 2007
Personal Branding (In 4 Words or Less) | by Ryan Rancatore | 2010