What’s All the Buzz About Personal Branding?

By Taylor Lord
Ever called a tissue a Kleenex? Or asked a friend to borrow Chap Stick? Brands have infiltrated every aspect of normal life and each one of us is guilty of referring to an object by a trademarked brand name. In a culture that is branded to a T, it’s not surprising that the idea of creating unique and distinctive labels for individuals is a topic that seems to come up constantly.
From seasoned industry professionals to untried college students, people are concerned with their personal brand and how they can stand out from the crowd. Even if you say that you don’t have a personal brand because you don’t post three to five times a day on Twitter, guess what? That reluctance to be active on social media is an integral part of how people perceive you, and thus part of your brand.

Whether you’re searching for a job or simply trying to influence others, personal branding goes a long way in making an impression. Luckily for those of us trained in communications, developing a recognizable persona is just like branding a company—only on a much more personal level.
Think back to the last campaign you created. Most likely, you started by compiling research, organizing a SWOT analysis and creating goals and objectives to stay on track. These same tactics can be applied to establishing a personal brand.
During this process, you need to research. Since you are promoting an image of yourself, take some time to reflect. What sets you apart from others? What are you interested in? By writing down your passions, you begin the process of defining and crafting your own personal mission statement and vision for the future.
Make sure you are knowledgeable about industry trends. With new technology platforms constantly being introduced, it is important to stay aware of how the field is evolving. Keep an eye on interesting ongoing campaigns to understand how different companies are leveraging certain platforms.
Having a presence, both online and offline, is essential to creating a personal brand. Be active on social media to share both your views and your personality. Speak about topics you know well at conferences to improve your network and increase your credibility.
And, just like big-name companies, turn your focus to establishing mutually-beneficial relationships. You need to follow up with contacts and create a two-way dialogue. Remember that good, lasting relationships are never one-sided.
Finally, the most important aspect of personal branding is to simply be yourself. With a little time and effort, your very own brand is within reach.