Graphic by Nate Barton
“Personal branding involves managing your reputation, style, look, attitude and skill set the same way that a marketing team would run the brand for a bag of Doritos or bottle of shampoo,” Colin Wright, a successful author, blogger, entrepreneur and full-time world traveler, wrote.
Even though Wright isn’t necessarily a household name, his unconventional writing style is one to which the Millennial generation can easily relate. His works on personal branding, from which the information in this piece was cultivated, include his free ebook called “The Least You Need to Know about Personal Branding” and his memoir/autobiography, called “Exile Lifestyle.”
1. Pick your passion. At this point in your life, your personal brand is probably as developed as it has ever been. You probably have a number of skills, some of which are well-developed, while others are basic. But here’s the thing: Being good at something isn’t the same as being passionate about it.
Those who find the most success in creating a personal brand are oftentimes those pursuing their passions. So when you start a personal brand, make it something you are passionate about. Find the thing you care about most and practice it until you’re great. It really doesn’t matter how you begin, just get going.
2. Act the part. You have to take yourself seriously before you can expect anyone else to take you seriously. Let’s say you want to be a dancer: Start introducing yourself as a dancer. Make sure people know that you think of yourself as a dancer first, and that any other vocation to which you are committed comes second. “Labels are powerful and thusly you should refer to yourself, even if just in your own mind, as the title you wish to achieve,” Wright wrote in his book. Be truthful, but don’t be afraid to acknowledge your skills and interests, and advance them accordingly.
3. Be different. Embrace what makes you an individual, and use that to carve out your niche. When developing and marketing your personal brand, a genuine portrayal of your personality is going to hold people’s attention much more than a well-rehearsed facade. Know yourself and stylize your brand around the core aspects of your personality. If you’re funny, use humor. If you’re artistic, highlight aesthetics.
4. Add layers. Your personal brand should come with a series of simple-yet-revealing layers that can be moved, removed, altered and tweaked. Each layer contains more information than the last about you and your brand. This should draw in the consumer and keep them interested. At first glance, people might see the professional aspect of your brand: what, to whom and why you are marketing yourself. Digging deeper reveals more about you, your beliefs and your interpretation of the world. Finish it off with what makes your brand more unique (and better) than all the others. The only constant among these layers is that they, like you and your brand, must grow and change.
5. Build a reputation. A solid reputation is vital when the product you’re marketing is yourself. This is especially true for your online image, which, given the web’s reach, can often be the most impactful aspect of your brand. However, do not take for granted the relationships and connections you can develop every day by seeking and engaging like-minded people. Being present, personable and genuine can go a long way. Being liked as a person is half of being liked (and hopefully supported) as a brand. This applies tenfold to your online presence. Don’t forget, the Internet is printed in ink — image-ruining, permanent ink. Be aware of what you’re putting on social media and your blog. Gravity does not apply here: Once something goes up, it does not come down. But you can also use this to your advantage. The amount of people you can reach online to share your ideas or creations with is virtually endless.
The last two tips — according to millionaire, entrepreneur, investor, author, public speaker and Internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk — apply to personal branding as much as they do everyday life. They come from a talk he gave at a 2008 Web 2.0 Expo in New York.
6. Care. Care about the present and potential supporters of your brand. People have a way of knowing when someone genuinely appreciates them as a client or customer, because there are a lot of people out there who do not.
“People listen, but they don’t do anything. Doing something, answering those emails, giving a crap, caring about your user base, that’s what you need to do. You need to care about everything, and it starts with yourself.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
7. Stop. Stop doing the things you do not enjoy and are not making you a better, happier person. You can earn and lose money just as easily being happy as you can doing things you hate. You only have one life to accomplish everything that you are going to do, and finding enjoyment in those accomplishments goes far beyond monetary value.
“Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, what do I want to do every day for the rest of my life? Do that, I promise you can monetize that s—.” — Gary Vaynerchuk
Follow Alec McPike on Twitter: @alecmcipke