This is dangerous territory because talking about your "Personal Brand" has become so popular that by putting my two cents into the mix, I risk... I'm not sure what exactly, but something. So instead of filling out the typical formula for this sort of thing (outline the problem, propose a solution, say how amazingly it works, and sell you into my online course). I thought I'd start by being very transparent.
Tomorrow at 1130AM, I'm collaborating with Jordan Louise Knight from Spicy Pineapple Marketing, and we'll be talking about how personal brands and posting on LinkedIn can impact your career.
Now that my motivation for writing this is clear, we can get on with my attempt at explaining personal branding without putting you to sleep or sounding like every other "internet guru" on the topic.
My simple - maybe oversimplified - definition of a personal brand is what people remember you for. Why does someone come and talk to you? What do they Know they will get when they do?
Are there fancier explanations? Yes. Does it make a difference? Not really. What does make a difference is less the statement and more the proof.
What I mean is I could start a business this afternoon with fantastic branding and claim to have the world's leading formula for curing baldness. With enough money, I could even build some hype around the idea and make bigger claims until, eventually, someone sends me a message asking to order my miracle cure.
This has several issues; first and foremost, I know absolutely nothing about chemistry or science; my only insight on the topic comes from my daily checks in the mirror as I see my hairline receding. Secondly, I've spent a lot of time and effort writing posts, making videos and working on content centred around Branding, Marketing, Formula One, Strategy, and Supply Chain. I have rarely, if ever, claimed to be a hair specialist for reasons that aren't an attempt at comedy.
The point is that making a claim is like making a promise; the actions afterwards make the real difference. In the business world, this works by Marketing and Branding making a claim and promise, which then takes a team of logisticians, salespeople, and customer service reps to deliver on.
Your personal brand is no different. If your profile claims you are a green energy leader passionate about transitioning people to an eco-friendly way of life. But all you seem to post about and talk about online and at parties is how much you love collecting seashells. People will see your claim, but remember the shells.
An even more straightforward way to grasp the concept of a personal brand is to think about your circle of mates. You've got the cool, successful, and quiet ones. Then you have the health nut who only talks about being vegan, the gym nut who only talks about "the endorphin rush", and, of course, in 2023, who could forget about the Tesla nut who will look for every opportunity to tell you about his "amazing range" and how Elon is a "genius" and that his Tesla shares are going "to the moon".
In any of these cases, the healthy, gym or Tesla nut - as annoying as they are for their own reasons - have distinction. They have a brand. Because before they've even walked into the room, you know that at some point, your gym junkie mate will ask you, "How's your program going?!". At this point, you must convincingly pretend you have been to the gym within the last two months as your brain tries remembering gym-related words like rep and bench press.
Having a distinction, brand, and reputation means you know what to expect and what you'll likely get when you talk to someone. It's the fulfilment of a promise. The great thing is that you don't need to sign up for a cult to participate or start drinking weird smoothies to have a brand; you can choose your narrative and what your brand represents - just look at all of Instagram.
I should say, importantly for my survival, there's nothing wrong with branding yourself. It's great. I thoroughly believe that when the time is right, we love knowing someone with a distinct topic and area of expertise.
When I need help figuring out a new gym routine - I call my mate. When I need help being less fat, I talk to my fiance about veganism. And if I ever fall out of love with the sound of a combustion engine and how it feels to have fun in a car. I know who to call. And suppose any of my mates need help with marketing, branding, or writing self-aggrandising and sartorial posts for the internet that a few people read. In that case, they know where to find me (alone in the corner because I talk about myself too much, and they're sick of hearing about 'reheatchef').
That's personal branding. Have fun with it.