Business tycoons have their own brand value and they guard it judiciously. They ensure consistency in their vocal, visual, and verbal presence, helping their followers connect with their style. We can easily connect with a leader like Anand Mahindra, an art-lover like Harsh Goenka, innovation supporter Harsh Mariwala and corporate governance guru, Deepak Parekh. Rashesh Shah, founder chairman of Edelweiss, is a spokesman for the financial services industry, but he has always projected himself to be a well-rounded person who runs marathons and support athletes. Hari Menon, the founder CEO of BigBasket, also does not hide that he is a musician too.
A frequently asked question is, ‘‘In today’s world of social media, how important is personal branding?’’ My answer is always ‘More than ever as the importance of a distinctive personal brand has increased to cut through the clutter of social media’.
At work, you are constantly creating our personal brand. Are you the ‘go-to’ colleague for technology problems, the ‘go-to’ colleague for personal advice, or the ‘fun guy’ everyone wants to chill with? If you frequently reach the office ten minutes before the official start time, you have a certain branding and if you reach the office ten minutes after the day begins, you have the opposite branding.
Richard Branson famously remarked ‘‘Embracing social media isn't just a bit of fun, it's a vital way to communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business.’’
A personal brand or perception cannot be created, it needs to be built over time and nurtured with consistency. Personal branding on social media does not mean putting ten posts daily and commenting on every other article. Sometimes people try to show much more than they are. This is over-projecting or over-doing yourself that at times has an opposite impact and leads to negative branding. Here, quality is more important over quantity.
Let’s compare ourselves with a product. People lose confidence in the product and the same goes for a person if it claims more than they are. Personal branding cannot happen in a vacuum. Intelligent and sensible people can easily look through your pretences however hard you try to portray otherwise. And once your image is impacted, it is very difficult to gain back the respect and trust. An authentic leader, who showcases himself as he is, puts forth his ideologies in a simple but effective manner, gives his honest opinions and never fails to recognize and appreciate others, succeeds in creating a perfect personal brand.
Tip: Ask your friends at work and outside to describe you in three words (both positive and negative traits) and put all these words on a whiteboard. Interestingly, you will notice that there is a trend emerging – this is the foundation of your personal brand. When I did the same exercise, synonyms for helpful, committed, passionate about work, professionally dressed, and approachable kept popping up, helping me define my brand.
Your personal brand can be marketed using the same principles used to market products and services. Assess your physical, emotional, and mental characteristics. Notice which are contributing productively to your life and which are keeping you from developing in the way you would like. Decide which aspects of your current persona you would like to change and which you would like to keep such as:
a) Be yourself: Authenticity shows! Personal branding is a long-term activity, possibly for the next five to ten years, and is a way for you to improve your earnings. If you are lying or being fake, it will show through at some point. So, be authentic and present the best version of yourself.
b) Find a common thread: What do you stand for? Brands have teams that craft their theme but you may not have the resources to hire the best brand consultant. So how do you get started? Take a pen and paper and start answering the questions given below:
· Do you want to be the best in your field or do you want to lead the best team? Are you a loner or do you like working in teams?
· What are your strengths? What are you good at?
· Do you like travelling all over the world selling products/services or staying back at your desk to implement or fine-tune systems?
· What are the most frequent compliments you have received at work?
· What is your most comfortable attire at work?
· What is your conversation-style? Formal or informal?
· Are you the person with the highest energy in the room or are you the person with slower but more deliberate moves?
c) Be consistent: Besides being visible, you have to be consistent in the message you are planning to convey. Bill Gates has always allowed Microsoft to speak for the software industry but has positioned himself as a philanthropist. On the other hand, Steve Jobs saw himself as an innovator and ensured that his product launches reflected this trait. Ask yourself – how do you want the world to see you?