Do you need a personal brand?Jan 05, 2021
I have a confession to make. I do not believe that everyone needs a personal brand and I do not believe that everyone has got what it takes to build one. We will unpack the cold truth of the second part of this belief in a future post but first things first.
Personal branding is a trendy concept right now, fraught with misconceptions and a lot of buzz around it.
“You’ve got a personal brand, whether you like it or not!”
Have you heard this one? It is simply not true. Everybody has a reputation but not everybody has a brand.
“Start posting on LinkedIn and it will be day 1 of you building a personal brand!”
Have you heard that one? Also not true. You posting on LinkedIn is you building a social media presence but hardly is you building a brand.
Personal branding is a fairly new and understudied concept but to differentiate misconceptions from truths, all you have to do is draw a parallel with corporate branding. Does every business have a brand? Of course not. My favorite convenience store is wonderful, but it certainly doesn’t have a brand. My kid’s karate studio is great but it doesn’t have a brand either. Do they have an excellent reputation? Indeed they do.
The convenience store has no social media presence but the karate studio does and the owner posts fairly frequently. We get schedule updates, pictures of kids’ belt ceremonies and other fun information. Are they brand building vis-à-vis this activity? Of course not. They are building their social media presence.
Now, do the convenience store and the karate studio have what it takes to build an actual brand? To be frank, albeit it is not impossible, it is unlikely. They would need a bigger vision, a larger mission, a stronger point of differentiation, and a compelling brand story. And even if all of that were in place, what would be the goal? If both owners are content with successfully serving their neighborhood, a focus on excellent service, as well as social media presence, seem to suffice.
Same applies to a personal brand. Not everyone has it. Not everyone needs it. Should you be mindful of your reputation? Yes, especially with the digital footprint that seems to remain in perpetuity. Should you be active on social so that you have more visibility? Yes, not definitely but likely. Building a brand, however, is a different beast. Building a personal brand takes introspection and time.
Another thing to consider is that it cannot be fully outsourced. A personal brand is predicated on your thought leadership, your charisma, and your magnetic appeal. You can get a lot of help with execution, but you cannot have someone else own it entirely.
So, do you need a personal brand? It is possible that you do not. It is possible that you can achieve your goals without building a personal brand and without scaling its reach.
Marina Byezhanova is the co-founder of Brand of a Leader. She has given talks across the globe & has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, Inc., Success Magazine, Yahoo!, the Financial Post & more.
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