Personal branding can make or unmake you. It is like an elevator, it can take you to the highest heights and bring you to the very musky basements too.
Personal branding has become a hot word in a lot of circles today. Be it in college, the office, among businesses, social media and what have you. The advent of social media has played a huge role in this phenomenon. The playground is now levelled by the internet and technology. Whether new or old, renowned or obscure, young or old, we all have the opportunity to make who we are shine.
The question for most people isn’t necessarily how to use social media or the various opportunities provided by the internet and technology. The challenge has been “how to define personal branding”, “how to build the personal brand after discovery”, “how to position the personal brand to reach more people” and eventually “how to monetize the personal brand”.
Fortunately or unfortunately, most young people including myself are besotted with the last part – ie monetizing the brand. And most times, just when we think we have the skills, have built some networks and are ready to monetize, we realise that we don’t even know the personal brand in the first place.
What is a personal brand?
There are a lot of definitions for a personal brand, however I will quote the one that has made the most sense to me. The one that made it easy on my brain and heart to actually call out and live a personal brand.
Your personal brand is an affirmation of who you are and what you love to do.Emmaline Datey, PHR
In simple terms, until you know who you are, you really can’t sell/monetize your personal brand. Are you “the person that provides massive value” – like Gary Vee, or are you the person that is passionate about Entrepreneurship in Africa – like Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyahia or Vusi Thembekwayo ? Better still are you the one who is creating massive opportunities for young African entrepreneurs – like Strive Masiyiwa and Tony Elumelu. Or you are a young economist with an active knowledge and interest in Geopolitics – like my friend The Street Economist.
For those who know all these names I’ve mentioned, there’s something you feel or a way you think about these people. And that in a large part, is their personal brand. They didn’t have to spell it out to you, but through their actions and decisions they made and are making, you are daily aware of that brand.
Personal branding – the discovery
There are lots of articles on how to discover your personal brand. But the purpose of this article isn’t to add to all the millions of voices out there. The purpose is to provide the beginner or clueless person an idea on how to practically discover your personal brand.
Connect with who you are intrinsically.
Are you a problem solver? Do you love to offer help to people? Does your interest lie in speaking to encourage people into action? Is there a knack for building beautiful images out of chaos? Are you the quiet and observant person who can regurgitate everything you ever hear even years after hearing it? Got an ear for good music and a natural at decoding voice parts in a song? I’m sure you know where I’m going with all these already.
- Who are you?
- What are your abilities – unique or ordinary?
- Which things inspire you into action?
- What things make you lose track of time?
Answering these questions, alongside deep diving into the things you enjoyed as a child can give you a clue of what your purpose is. Where your purpose in this case is the reason for which you were created. God created mankind to extend His heavenly rule on earth – to exercise dominion over the things on earth and be stewards. That’s a good starting point for you. Walk along those lines to discover what gifts you’ve been endowed with and what you are to use them for that will make you a good steward.
When you’ve discovered your purpose, gifts and the demographic or situation you’ve been called to, you’re well on your way to brand yourself for maximum impact. Jesus Christ’s brand was basically preacher, teacher, liberator. And we recognise how that played out in everything He did. To the extent that those who started living like Him after his death were named after Him.
Your personal brand, when discovered and lived can outlive you on earth. To discover your personal brand, find your purpose. Click To Tweet
How to build your brand
Your personal brand is like a farm. It needs attention, information and interaction doled out in useful measure to mature. A mature plant is better able to withstand the cold than a seed.
You have discovered you purpose – that’s the seed. Now how do you build it into the farm that is full of mature crops which bear harvests and produce more fruits after its kind? You need information, attention and interaction.
If your purpose for instance is to liberate people, it’s now time for you to create the vehicles through which you do the liberation. That is when you begin to acquire information about what puts people in bondage, what kind of liberty they need, which people exactly you are out to liberate, etc.
This information then begins to shape your attention, as you begin to pay heed to factors, news, influences, and people who directly relate with your liberation motive.
Eventually, you begin to interact with the people who need your liberation and those that can help you make that liberation happen. Very soon, people begin to see you as the voice for the voiceless, the mother of the motherless, etc.
Your personal brand has begun to now take shape. In your presence or absence, people can describe you as your brand. What then happens afterwards is growth and maturity in that personal brand. You’re now close to where you can monetize that personal brand – for people’s attention, time, support or hard currency.
Personal branding positioning for maximum impact
After discovery and building, you are now ready to position yourself in the minds of your network, family, friends, colleagues, etc as your personal brand. Positioning can come in various forms.
It can include starting projects around your personal brand, like Strive Masiyiwa did with his #GoGettaz entrepreneurship competition for young Africans. For some other person, it could be authoring a book – like Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyahia did with his book – Kuenyahia on Entreprenuership. Additional positioning strategies can be through speaking at events, partnering events, volunteering as resource person for causes about what you want to be known for etc.
I know some of us want to do it through social media, blogs, vlogs, etc. These absolutely work too, you only have to remember that your personal brand is less about what you say you are and more about the perception others have of you. Joseyphina didn’t have to tell me she’s a great storyteller, but just through reading her blog, I got evidence of how great a storyteller she is. Your personal brand is subject to what people think of you, how you make them feel or what they connect you to. So let most of your hard work actually be doing instead of instructing your personal brand.
Your personal brand could go with your personal or pseudo name and it should rank online. Find out how to do that in Mawuli’s article here.
How to monetize your personal brand
Making money from your personal brand is like tending to your farm with care and enjoying the harvest it brings. You put in the work and provide value consistently. People need to know and decide for themselves that you are what you are branding yourself as.
The internet has made it very easy to monetize your personal brand (your purpose, experience, knowledge + exposure). Based on what your brand is, here are just a few options:
- Create a Service/Product eg teaching a masterclass online/offline, authoring books
- Building a business out of your personal brand
- Become a contributor (speaker, mentor, partner) for organisations that relate to your brand
Personal branding is vast and wide and I may not have done a lot of justice to it. So I’m hoping this is a great starting point for you.
On Career Wednesdays, me and Emmaline discussed Personal Branding which you may want to check out in the video.
I am also still learning and growing, and this article by Gary Vee adds up a lot.
Let me know what you think about this post in the comments.
What is your biggest takeaway?
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