Building Brand YOU - The Product
As with any product on the market, a brand style guide that determines look, feel, behaviour, values, and representation is crucial in identifying the brand and, consistently and effectively communicating the brand. Discover how you can improve your brand identity in this article.
“Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself” - George Bernard Shaw
As with any product on the market, a brand style guide that determines look, feel, behaviour, values, and representation is crucial in identifying the brand and, consistently and effectively communicating the brand. If we could break your personal brand down into the parts of a brand guide, you would get a gestalt view of how the parts equal the unified whole.
A brand guide typically has three main sections: Identity, Personality, and Authenticity. Identity speaks to the physical attributes that mark a product. So things like logos, colours, font etc. The look of the brand. Personality speaks to tone, voice, and emotions. The feel of the brand. Authenticity speaks to the values, differentiating factors, positioning and promise of the brand.
Your Brand Identity - Create your look
As it relates to brand YOU, brand identity refers to your look and what that says about who you are. This is determined by many factors including career industry, upbringing, trends, and culture. So things like how you dress and carry yourself.
My sister-in-law asked me a while ago, “What’s your power colour?”, “What colour makes you feel confident?”. As a firm believer in the psychological power of colour I thought the question interesting and important. My colour is blue. I love blue it makes me feel in charge and compliments my skin tone well I feel. What’s your power colour?
Another aspect of your personal brand identity is finding little things that effortlessly accentuate who you are. It helps you to stand out but in a complementary way. My little accent is my glasses. I am known for having bold and quirky glasses in colours that I love.
My “look” perfectly matches the creative industry and works well with my title of Creative Entrepreneur and Consultant. While I have a creative edge, my work takes me corporate which means I need to balance my “look” for both worlds without compromising “me”.
In some corporate environments, like tech, the dress is much more relaxed and comfortable. Some people dress based on their industry, their brand identity is intrinsically tied to their occupation.
How can you improve your brand identity?
- Find your power colour and rock it when you need a boost.
- To reduce incongruence, it would be ideal that your look reflects your industry. But it’s always fun to be a rebel and shake things up.
- Find a statement piece, it does not need to be expensive, just something you can own that helps you to stand out.
- Social media very much reflects your look, keep it professional, relevant but still fun.
- Never lose yourself, your brand needs to stay true to you if it does not feel like you it won’t look like you
- Improving brand identity is about growth and not change
Your Brand Personality
I like to look at this as the words that come to mind first when someone interacts with you. Approachable, Confident, Knowledgeable, Professional, Warm, Dynamic, Introverted/Extraverted, Futurist, etc. Usually, individuals will sum you up with 3-5 words. This is the “feel” of your brand.
How you communicate with others influences their perception of you. This includes your tone of voice, body language and your command of the spoken/written language. In the professional sphere, you want to be seen as a leader who encompasses most of the characteristics mentioned above and more.
Your ability to regulate and balance your emotions also influences your brand personality. This is known as emotional intelligence. And we would be foolish to exclude emotions from branding & marketing, as this is one of the most important drivers of human decisions. Being conscious and mindful of your emotional state and controlling your behaviour and actions in the moment is at the core of being emotionally intelligent. It does not mean you don’t feel, it means that you manage how you react based on the situation.
How can you improve your brand personality?
- Figure out what are the 5 words you want to be used to describe you.
- Perception is reality. Speak with close friends and family to see if your words match up. If it does your golden, if not, then there are tonnes of resources online to improve your performance on these traits.
- Get a mentor. Someone in your field who has years of experience with hard and soft skills to share.
- Record yourself performing certain tasks and speaking on a variety of topics. Watch yourself and re-record the same task. Try to improve your performance each round through self-constructive criticism. If you want, you can always invite a friend who will give you honest feedback.
Your Brand Authenticity - What Your Brand Stands For
The saying, “Stand for something or you will fall for anything” holds true when building your brand. People need to know what you're about. Businesses are not fully run by bots yet, so it is important that values are known and align with the individuals you plan to work with so that you don’t compromise your brand and possibly your morals.
What are you passionate about? This speaks volumes as passions are usually tied to the values you have, and develop over time. Your passions also allow you to differentiate yourself from the crowd and to establish your USP, unique selling point. USP are those things about you that add value to your personal brand and your brand experience.
Your brand promise aligns your values and USP with quantifiable business and personal goals. It is your promise to deliver a specific service while interjecting your core values, passions and USP’s to attain a personal goal or business goal for a client or the company with which you work. It is a promise to yourself to continue growing and developing as a person and in your professional career.
How can you improve your brand authenticity?
- Know your values and your worth. List your personal values that you hold close.
- Know your business values. Sometimes personal influences business. Knowing both means you won't be easily swayed in conversations and negotiations. Still keep an open and strategic mind though.
- Know your USP. This usually falls in line with interview question, “Why are you the right candidate or company for this job?” Your USP is the answer.
- Create your brand promise statement:
“ I, your name, promise to deliver specific service while upholding my values and always demonstrating my USP to attain personal or business goals for a client or the company with which you work."
This statement will make your work more meaningful and purposeful. It will assist in guiding your behaviour and the perception others will have of your brand.
Building your brand is a process that requires reflection, mindfulness, and work. The steps laid out here should help you to get started on your discovery of brand YOU.