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Seven tips for creating your personal brand

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Published: 8 January 2021

University of Sunderland in London students taking photos with a phone by Tower Bridge

In this world of social media influencers and mega-rich celebrities, defining who you are in the job market could be key to meeting your career goals.

A personal brand is made up of the actions we take to create a public ‘persona’ and influence the way people think of us.

That could be in terms of your personality, impact on an industry or credibility – whether someone believes what you’re saying or not.

In short, that means a personal brand is for everyone, not just those of you thinking about launching your own business.

Follow these seven rules for creating and building your personal brand.

1) Keep it simple

A major problem people start out with when thinking about their personal brand is, they try to be everything at once.

You’re not trying to showcase your entire personality, just one aspect of who you are.

Keep your message focused on your target demographic, whether that’s parents looking for day-care or millennials wanting to go backpacking in Europe.

2) Be real

People know when they’re not seeing the genuine thing. The only way to have a well-developed personal brand is to be yourself.

Don’t try and be someone else – you're not going to be next Oprah by copying Oprah!

Instead, try engaging with your audience on a personal level – respond to their tweets and Instagram comments in your voice, not as someone else.

3) Be a storyteller

A true personal brand isn’t just for you to talk about yourself into the void of social media. Instead, create an engaging and interesting narrative that your audience can see themselves in.

In other words, you have to tell a story. Meet your audience, create videos and written content with them.

4) Be consistent

A personal brand cannot keep changing, or it will start to become unrecognisable. If Coca Cola changed their brand colour from the famous red to bright green you might not immediately recognise it as coke. Consistency is key.

5) Expect to fail

Failing isn’t easy to deal with, but it is something that happens to all of us more than once throughout our lives. That’s just as true for your personal brand – it's not realistic to expect perfection every time. Instead, focus on learning from where you fall down and make sure you get back up again.

6) Have a positive impact

Don’t think of your personal brand as in competition with others in your industry. By working with your peers, you’re more likely to grow a positive, long-lasting image that people want to engage with.

A great example of this is Burger King’s recent ‘Order from McDonald’s’ campaign which encouraged their customers to support their competitors during the second UK COVID-19 lockdown.

The public remember things like this far more than you outperforming the competition. A positive image will have a much longer-lasting impact on your personal brand than a negative one.

When you’re building your image, think about things like following the examples of people you admire (remember, be inspired but do not copy!). It’s important to live your brand for your audience to see it as authentic. That’s the way to get your followers to share your stories and leave a digital footprint.