Featured image by Roman Samborskyi
Is your personal brand strong enough to stand out from the crowd?
Or, if you’re really being honest with yourself, is it a carbon copy of your peers’ and rivals’?
The difference matters. In a winner-take-all economy, a strong personal brand could make the difference between a thriving professional practice (or rocket-ship career track) and a lifetime of more or less anonymous toil.
The choice is yours.
Assuming you’d prefer the former, here’s what you should do to distinguish your personal brand from those of your professional doppelgangers.
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1. Design a Personal Logo (Or Hire a Pro to Do It for You)
Don’t have the time or talent to design a professional-grade personal logo yourself? Hop on 99Designs or similar and purchase one worthy of your potential. It’ll cost less than you think and will instantly improve your marketplace visibility when used consistently across your digital properties. To achieve best results for your personal brand, don’t forget to place your logo in oft-overlooked spots like your email signature line.
2. Play the Name Recognition Card, Especially If Yours Is Common
If you share a name with a famous person, as this Kris Duggan article covers, you probably have a favorite strategy for dealing with the tiresome jokes that inevitably follow. For the sake of your personal brand, though, perhaps you should lean in. For instance, title your blog or Medium page “Not That [insert famous name here]” or “The Other [so-and-so]”. If the alternative is yet another corny reference, what do you have to lose?
3. Put Together a Professionally Designed, Topic-Specific Blog
About that blog. It’s vital that it’s professionally designed and focused narrowly on topics to which you can speak as a legitimate expert. “Professional design” doesn’t mean you have to hire a full-service web design firm, but you should at the very least invest in a customized template. Such a move is bound to give your personal brand a boost.
4. Launch a Podcast, But Don’t Stake Your Livelihood on It
Sad to say, your pet podcast will not make you rich. But it may deliver a dose of professional credibility that’s difficult to find elsewhere. Like your blog, your podcast should focus narrowly on topics that you know well, and that you know will interest your audience (however narrow).
5. Create a Distinctive Voice for Your Personal Brand
The best personal brands are renowned for distinctive voices: styles of writing and speaking that are difficult or impossible to imitate. Only you can say for sure which voice most closely approximates your true self.
6. Stand for a Cause, Asking Nothing in Return
Lastly, devote a portion of your brand platform to a cause close to your heart. Ask your followers and colleagues to contribute to it or promote it without asking for anything in return. In other words, keep your philanthropy and livelihood siloed from one another, even as they’re clearly part of the same brand.
Your Personal Brand Is Your Bread and Butter
If your profession has any sort of public-facing component—and most do, these days—it’s no exaggeration to say that your livelihood depends on the strength of your personal brand. This is even more so, of course, for freelancers, small business owners, and independent professionals without a corporate hierarchy or marketing team to support them.
So, what are you prepared to do to ensure that your personal brand is stronger than those of your rivals? The days of sitting back and trading on the strength of your handshake are gone. If you don’t step up and take control of your own professional destiny, you can’t expect anyone else to do it for you.