In last week’s blog post, Find it: How to Kick Off Your Personal Branding Journey, we shared insights from a survey of millennial women. This week, we are moving on to the next important step of the branding journey: how to make your brand work for you. You’ve got your brand statement or motto. Now what? If you’re like the millennials responding to our survey, you are experiencing ambivalence -- hope and excitement about the possibilities ahead:
“I think that personal branding will help me connect with my blog readers and help people get to know me better!”
“It makes me feel more free to express myself in unique ways”
“It gives a sense of direction and driving force for a better future”
And apprehension from not yet knowing where your brand will take you:
“Its a cool concept but super ethereal and hard to grasp what practical things I can do to make it happen”
“Personal branding is an inner experience that only the individual can hold herself back with.”
Take a deep breath and “pull yourself together.” I mean this literally and figuratively. As we've explored in "Finding Your Brand," all parts of you need to be pulled together into one clear identity. You can’t limit your brand to only certain parts of your existence. You need to integrate across your public and private lives – your family, your career, your interests. But once you've defined your own integrated brand message, what next? How do you put your motto out in the world to work for you? Here are two simple rules to follow to truly "Own Your Brand."
Believe in your brand
To "Own It” means to “acknowledge that something is the case or that one feels a certain way.” Your brand is more than a few words on a page. It encompasses the whole you and is about how it feels to your body and how it appears in your face, your body language, your tone of voice. Like many things you do, owning your brand will take practice. Here is a way to practice feeling your brand: stand in front of a mirror and say your brand statement aloud. The first time you do this, it may feel awkward, but with practice, it becomes natural and you are ready to put your brand out there.
Put your brand out there
Once you’ve accepted your brand as true, you are ready to share it. Before you start, take a look at your current public footprint by Googling yourself. What pops up will probably be a mixed bag…some things will nail your brand while others will have you scratching your head. Put together a list of all the public places that you show up:
Websites – whether your own site or that of an organization you are a part of
Social Media – FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter
Networks/Groups – alumni organizations, professional associations, volunteer groups
Systematically dissect your presence on each of these channels and identify places where you can integrate your brand. For example, does your profile in LinkedIn align with your brand? Do the things you share on social media reflect the intent of your brand?
Putting your brand out there extends beyond the digital channels. Consider your resume or your business cards. Do they capture your brand? If not, you will want to refresh them to ensure you are projecting a consistent brand throughout your life.
Once you've gone through this review of you brand presence, you will be well on your way to owning your brand.