If I learned anything during the last few years, I learned this: people like to put labels on people. We can’t help it. And for me, an unrecovered renaissance multipotentialite, wearing a label was never cozy nor a personal preference. So, how did I end up building a brand out of myself, you wonder? Well, by accident. In the following few paragraphs, I’ll do my best to give you an answer to the – How to build a personal brand – question.
More importantly, I will explain why it is of utmost importance to do the same yourself.
What is (not) a personal brand, after all?
Like a true academician, I will start this essay by defining the basics, i.e. the terminology, and do my layman’s best to explain how I understand the – personal brand – term. First of all, we should make a distinction between three quite similar but nuanced things: person, persona and personal brand. And as a side note, one of the most important things an entrepreneur needs to learn is – how to build a personal brand online.
A personal brand is not a person
There is a person behind a personal brand, but who you are as a person can be quite different than what your personal brand represents. For example, you can be pretty shy as a person and have an exceptionally loud personal brand. That’s quite common.
Or you can be a grumpy nagger personally, but build the most successful comedian career and become an epitome, i.e. have a personal brand, of what people identify as funny.
A person is who you are by nature, who you are when no one is watching, when lights and cameras go off.
A personal brand is not a persona
Persona is who you became after having some life experience, it is your second nature. It is who we are when people are watching. Not to overstep into the zone of psychoanalysis, I will add just one more thing. Persona is not necessarily who you want to be in this world – it is who you learned to be in this world. And it is not that easy to unlearn this, even after we realize that perhaps our persona is not our best friend.
So what the fuzz is a personal brand?
It is a canvas. And you are at the same time the art and the artist. We cannot choose our personality, and rarely can adjust our persona, but we can do what the fuzz we want with our personal brand. It is a piece of clay, and you can free-form it into whatever you decide.
It is a visual, verbal, tactile, olfactive re-presentation of who you are, what you do, and how you see the world. It should be the first pillar of all your undertakings. In the following paragraphs, we will dive deeper and learn how to build a personal brand.
How to build a personal brand?
Like with all complex things in life, you need to do one thing – you need to start. And as once wise Japanese author in his Little book of ikigai stated – you should always start small. If you are still reading this article, that means that you have already started, so pat yourself on the back, and start creating a personal brand identity:
- Choose your word and build a narrative around it
- Choose your color and build a palette around it
- Choose your niche and build a tribe around it
- Choose your life and live it
Like with all complex things in life, starting is the easiest part, and continuing is the hardest. Building a personal brand is a life-long quest. It’s one of those things that we are never indeed done with. As we heal and grow, our brand evolves, and if we are deeply dedicated, our personal brand aligns with our most authentic self, in the end. That should be our goal.
You see, although I boldly claimed that we could do what the fuzz we want we our personal brand, and we really can, it is in our highest interest to make sure that our personal brand is fully aligned with our deepest values. A success that is in complete collision with our values is not a success, but our deepest regret. And if you properly build your personal brand, success is granted.
Do you need a personal brand?
Yes! In today’s world of social media, we are all celebrities. We all need a publicist, and until you can afford one, you need to be one. In both, private and business settings, most of us are surrounded (read: judged) by people.
People need to put us in certain categories, now more than ever before, due to informational overload. If someone meets you on your bad hair day, they might assume that that is how your hair looks on most days. A trivial, simplified example, but it is true. We jump to conclusions these days and suffer from a severe lack of critical thinking.
To give you a less trivial example, imagine being interviewed right after you had a long drunken party night. Your future boss doesn’t care if it was your best friend’s farewell party, you look like feces, feel worse and know that there is zero to none chance that they will choose you.
Do you need a personal brand strategist?
As I said, you do and you can do it yourself. You can always find valuable information on websites like this one and learn how to build a personal brand on your own. If you ever feel like you are ready to hire a pro, you’ll know where to find me. Good luck! You can totally do it!