Brands are meant to differentiate. Therefore, personal brands are meant to differentiate people.
You may not know it, but your personal brand is already being built and managed by none other than you, yes you.
Your Name = Your Brand
By now you have many friends in college. I am sure you have many friends at home as well.
- Each of them know you by *insert your name here*.
- Your name also happens to be your brand name.
- Your brand name has different meanings to the various people you know. You typically refer to these meanings as roles.
Now it’s time to consider these roles from another angle…the brand angle. In other words, each role is a different brand of you. Even though your friends and relatives know you by the same name, your brand and, more importantly, the meaning of your brand is different for each. For example, your brand has a different meaning amongst your friends compared with your relatives or your co-workers.
Your Relationships = Your Target Markets
So your brands are different. And you already work on maintaining those brands but you probably didn’t know it. Maybe you are maintaining your respectfulness to your professors for your “student brand”, or you can be reliably counted on to go on a road trip on a moment’s notice for your “friend brand.” But, like I mentioned in my last post, this differentiation is not enough.
Your brand also needs to be relevant to your target market.
- By relevant, I am suggesting your brand should be meaningful in a positive way.
- By target market, I mean the person or persons who are the object of your focus.
So your relevant message(s) need to be directed toward the corresponding target market. For example, while the “road tripping persona” is a good fit and hence more relevant for your friends, it is—most likely—neither for your professors.
Your Career Brand
Now you are ready to develop your personal “career brand.” To do this you need to leverage the core values you identified a week ago. In the process of developing your personal brand, leveraging your core values is tantamount to making them relevant to your target market(s).
How do you make your values relevant to your target market? Well, you already know the answer to that and it is in your own personal toolbox. Maybe you don’t think so, but step back for a minute. Consider how you leverage your “friend” and “student” personal brands. If you take that step back, you will notice you already mastered the skills to make your brands relevant. What are these skills? They encompass your ability to connect with your target markets by showing them the benefits of associated and engaging with you. This means knowing your target market, and understanding how they will realize the benefits of your brand. The road tripping persona may be made relevant by initiating or suggesting the trip. The respectfulness persona may be related to using appropriate manners with your professors.
The take away here is that in order for your personal brand to be positive and relevant, you need to make sure you understand your target markets and what makes them tick. Then you need to take that information and develop a mechanism so your target markets will understand your core values and see the benefits of working with and hiring you for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Take some time to think about today’s post. We have some more work to do before we are ready to roll out your brand. That will be covered in my next post.
Howard, an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at the California State University Fullerton, earned his Ph.D. from Temple University. Prior to joining the faculty at Cal State, Howard was on the faculty at Drexel University and The Pennsylvania State University. A native of Philadelphia, Howard has extensive experience in the public and private sectors working for organizations such as the Department of Defense, Motorola, and the CSX railroad. His research expertise is in branding, sustainability, strategic pricing, and education. In addition to teaching at Cal State, Howard has a consulting business focused on branding. You can follow Howard on Twitter or connect with him at Linkedin.