For almost 10 years I’ve been researching, consulting on, building for myself, employees and clients, and even published a book on personal branding. In my last post for Chelsea I touched on what a brand is and how to take control of it before everyone else does. As I began writing this post, I thought about the opportunistic landscape and platforms we have at our disposal today. The evolution of web, social media, multimedia, apps, etc. have made it infinitely easier to build a persona online – both authentic and utterly false. Do you see the distinction there? An authentic brand is something magnetic and remarkable that becomes a true asset for you. An online persona with no backing or truth is a dangerous game to attempt.
No matter your stage in life, no matter what your short & long-term goals are, no matter the reason for your desire to build a powerful personal brand – there are 4 core elements which, when managed, produce a powerful and authentic brand.
4 ESSENTIAL BRANDING ELEMENTS
Just like the classic game Connect Four, your ‘pieces’ need to be aligned in order to ‘win’. If you have only identified or managed a portion of these, your brand may not be aligned. So what are your four essential branding elements?
It’s often hard as a Millennial to resist the urge to…embellish slightly. As mentioned above, it is very easy to list your relatable experience in a way that sounds slightly more impressive than it actually is. In order to build a truthful and authentic brand, you need to be honest about your experience no matter how deep it is, or not.
Most employers are very realistic about the prerequisites they are looking for especially in entry or mid-level positions. It’s better to round out your four essential branding elements to set yourself apart, than fudge your resume in order to gain an advantage.
What value or potential value can you bring to your desired position? Think about different levels of the organization, the different relationships both internally and externally you could have; and determine what value you bring in all areas.
Perhaps this should have been listed first. If you have a strong handle on your beliefs, then you can let them guide your decision-making both on and offline.
For years I had debates with experienced professionals regarding their work persona and home persona. Many of them insisted having two profiles (mainly on Facebook and Twitter) made sense. They didn’t want colleagues seeing pictures of them on the weekend or on vacation, and didn’t think their college friends cared about what they did at work. I argued strongly against this, and luckily got many to come around to the realization that the line between home-life and work-life are blurred, if not completely gone, now.
My family and I relocated to Virginia from Florida two years ago. Once we made the decision, I began the search for a realtor; and I did what most of the population does – I started with Google. I performed a variety of searches, and visited a large number of websites. If I landed on an outdated or unresponsive site, I would immediately leave. After hours of research, I stumbled upon a very nice site. On the homepage they had a section highlighting their agents. I clicked.
I began to read about Dawn. She is about my age. She was a collegiate athlete (my wife and I were collegiate athletes). She has two kids (we have two kids). Her father was in the Navy (my Father-in-law is retired Navy). See what was happening here? We found similarities and connected with her before ever meeting her. I ended up contacting her, found her knowledgable, and eventually hired her. We hired her because her online and offline brand were consistent.
We hired HER – not her company.
Once you’ve identified and connected your four essential branding elements, the next step is to determine how your online & offline assets are either enhancing or damaging your desired brand.
Below is a quick assessment you can go through to see how your assets currently align with your desired brand. Answer yes if the item enhances or aligns with your desired brand.
- Profile Image
- What you say
- What you share, comment on and interact with
- Your pictures
- Your peer group
- Your community/campus involvement
- Your dress
- Your actions
- Your words
Should you be cautious? Heck yes. There are plenty of recent examples like Trevor Noah, Andrew Harrison, etc. that show your online activity can resurface at any time, and the mic is never off. To make it even harder for you, the better you do, the higher you climb, the larger the microscope becomes. HOWEVER, you should not be terrified and stick your head in the sand. Going back to the four essential branding elements, be true to those, and you can’t go wrong.