Join us as we explore the core concepts of personal and company branding, the guiding principles to elevate your brand, and why authenticity is paramount to success.
More than anything else, branding – whether personal or business related – is a journey. The most successful brands are those who have clarity on who they are and who remain authentic to their principles and values throughout.
It’s that authenticity that enables you to bring your network (or audience) on a journey with you. By enabling them to be a part of your journey, you help them feel emotionally connected to you.
Powerful relationships are based on emotional connections. Get it right and you can accelerate your career or business exponentially.
In this blog, we’ll take a detailed look into the power of a personal brand and share some tips on how you can use it to boost your career. We’ll also shed some light on how this relates to brand building in a business context.
Core Concepts: Personal & Company Branding
When it comes to branding, there are no real fundamental differences between personal branding and company branding – the same core values, principles, and approaches actually apply to both.
A brand is essentially a ‘presence’ representing you or your business, your values, and what makes you different from others.
For any brand to be effective, it all starts with being able to identify your values and knowing what you feel strongly about – after all, these are things that drive your subconscious actions, and how you communicate with your network.
When you think about it, if you don’t know where you want to get to, how can you start to plan the steps to get there?
How important is personal branding?
Whether you’re transitioning into a leadership position, or you’re planning on becoming a thought leader in your particular field or sector, a personal brand can be a “make it or break it” moment in your professional career.
It’s important to remember that it’s all about making yourself relatable, whilst also standing out from the crowd. To some, this can seem like an intimidating task – though, it doesn’t actually need to be.
Giving her professional insight on a more creative view of personal branding, Seeblue Co-Founder, Helen commented;
“The way I see personal branding, is that it’s not flat, it’s not linear … you can change it at any point in time with enough focus, intent, and awareness of what you’re doing.”
Avoiding pre-conceived ideas
Whether it’s in our personal lives, or in business, we often tend to make decisions based on predetermined notions. Either consciously or subconsciously, these decisions can be backed up and reinforced by our own experiences, or by how we think we’re supposed to behave.
To achieve the most from your personal brand journey however, it’s important to first overcome any pre-conceived ideas.
“It’s easy to be influenced by how you think you should act. With a personal brand, it’s best to strive for authenticity and avoid forcing yourself to conform to certain imagined ideals”, maintains Helen.
Drawing on her own personal journey, Helen recalls her first corporate experience and how it helped to shape this view.
“Having just graduated at 21, I had this perception that work was only about being really productive and really efficient.
Every morning, for 6 months, I’d sit at my desk and my team would come by and invite me out for a cup of tea, and I’d say “no thanks, I’ve had my tea at home, I’ll just start working”.
It wasn’t until, a lovely teammate came past my desk one day and whispered “it’s not about the tea, Helen!”. And I just sat there thinking, “oh, I’ve kind of missed the point here, haven’t I?”
While attempting to live up to my impression of work, I sort of left myself and my personality at home – this notion of how I ‘should’ be actually kept me distanced from my whole team.”
Although there’s no ‘secret formula’ when it comes to overcoming these kinds of pre-conceived ideas or notions, it’s important to always ask questions.
By having the confidence to question others, their ideology, and our own thinking, we can become better equipped to create our own ideas — a key first step in developing any personal brand.
Steps to elevate your personal brand
If you’re planning on starting your own personal brand journey from scratch, it helps to first focus on making the biggest impact in the smallest amount of time e.g., value vs. volume.
Choose thoughtful and insightful points to align yourself with, and make sure you’re investing in things that will likely have an exponential impact.
To reach the ‘right frame of mind’ for your own personal branding, Helen recommends two books that were important on her own journey:
- ‘Radical Candor’ by Kim Scott, a useful way to encourage those around you to provide feedback in the best way, that can help you take leaps forward.
- ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ by Tony Robbins, which can really support your personal awareness journey and has lots of neuroscience led insights.
Once you’re ready to begin, LinkedIn is a particularly helpful place to start.
Courtesy of a recent Women in Tech forum webinar on personal branding – also featuring Helen as a panellist – here are 3 top tips on how to get started on LinkedIn:
1. Connect and grow your network – you can send up to 100 connection requests every week!
2. Share content on LinkedIn, most importantly don’t be afraid to share your perspective – people engage with people!
3. Be consistent, persistent, and realistic with your efforts.
What’s different about developing a business brand?
When developing brand and proposition messaging for our own Seeblue clients, we apply exactly the same principles; and focus on connecting with your values, and what makes your business unique.
Whether our clients are creating a sub-brand or new category, or looking to pivot and adapt, we look for the full picture of where they are now, and where they want to get to. We then map out the steps they need to take to get there, so they can communicate their transition in a meaningful and purposeful way.
Just as with a personal brand, it’s about the how as well as the what. So you also need to consider your tone of voice, your visual identity, and which kinds of professional circles can support you in achieving your ambitions.
Some helpful examples of this are thinking through the communities that you want to be present in, and the associations that you can create for your brand such as sponsorships, awards and content syndication.
By using the points we’ve raised above as an initial stepping stone to harnessing your personal brand, you can begin to take control of how you’re perceived by your network.
When it comes to either your own or your company’s brand, it’s important to remember that it’s never ‘static’ – it’s something that develops over time.
Ending with a final tip from Seeblue’s Helen, “Have fun with your personal brand, and use it to showcase your expertise, experience, and authenticity to your network.”
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Seeblue Marketing is a specialist marketing consultancy for tech sector businesses. We are a team of specialists with over 40 years of direct experience driving growth in world-class blue-chip companies. We now apply our knowledge and deep understanding of B2B marketing to working with SME’s and scaling technology businesses.