Lie Down Before You Hurt Yourself – Personal Branding for the Rest of Us

Personal brand/branding is a buzz-phrase you’ll hear everywhere. That’s not just for those of us in the now broad and diverse marketing industry. This revamped concept has indeed been hijacked by marketers and sold in the form of books, courses, consultations…

Fair enough. No matter your actual industry, marketing yourself as a professional is an essential skill to help you land a job.

Personal Brand/ing: The way in which a person presents themselves, what they offer to their target audience and how they manage and grow their reputation.

The earliest mentions of the term (or similar) can be traced back to the early 20th century. However, I am certain you could come up with similar or identical equivalents even earlier than that. If you wanted to.

The above definition is, unfortunately, extremely broad. That’s not very different to the term “content manager” in digital marketing. It can mean anything from an SEO to a social media marketer to someone who just posts things on Facebook.

In a sense, we’re all content managers. The same can be applied to personal brand: we all have one, whether we want to or not.

The truth about personal branding

Create your own logo, your own tone of voice, your own website, manage multiple social media accounts and get your image out there… Blah, blah, blah.

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? I don’t deny that there are many marketers who find it a thrilling and exciting project. Good for them. However, what many staunch and avid proponents of personal branding fail to realize is that…

…the majority of the workforce neither have the time nor the energy to develop a full personal brand.

Quite frankly, most professionals have better things to do. Many are not interested in manning their phones 24/7. Some of us find social media useful but aren’t obsessed.

For the majority of us, a well-developed and expertly-executed personal branding strategy with all the bells and whistles is… Overkill. Especially if we’re not celebrities, artists, thought leaders, influences, etc…

Think about it for a minute. What about secretaries? Plumbers? “Office workers” (for lack of a better term)? Yes, developing your “brand” to a certain extent is a good idea.

Yet here’s the truth: it does not have to and nor should it take up a significant chunk of your time.

The curse of (digital) marketing is being susceptible to one’s own propaganda. For all our testing, analytics tools and information at our fingertips, it can be disturbingly easy to fall prey to inflated or even plainly false metrics.

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Not naming names.

No matter how objective you fancy yourself as a marketer, you can still be swept away by a well-optimized sales funnel or a persuasive piece of advertising copy.

For the rest of us, personal branding doesn’t have to be a complex project. It is as simple as laying the foundations.

Basic Personal Branding – Laying the foundations

For most professionals, laying down the foundations of personal branding is enough. Yes, updating it is necessary – but only once in a while as your skills/experience develop. To do so, ask yourself…

  • Who am I trying to reach? For most professionals, this means employers/companies in certain industries.
  • What do I have to offer? What skills do you have? What experience? How can you help those employers/companies that you’d like to work for?
  • How do I reach them? For many working professionals, this means setting up a LinkedIn page, a simple website (really just an online CV) and doing a bit of networking.

That’s really it. Of course, you can elaborate later if you want. This, however, is your cornerstone.

Your brand is just a label

Having a well-developed personal brand is a good indication of skill for a marketer. For many of us, though, actually doing your job well is the real strength. After all, it is just another word for reputation. That’s really all there is to it. While not quite a “set and forget” system, there are likely more important things that most of us with a personal brand have to worry about.