Personal branding begins with AUTHENTICITY and is core to what makes you stand out and chosen above all others because it is unique to you alone. Authenticity is not perfect or safe, but real! Who you really are, not who you want to be, or wish to be. The real you is where the passion, progress, compassion, truth, creation of value and accomplishment happens.
Many people present a persona or professional image that they believe will be more acceptable. I have heard of CEOs and top Executives taking classes to assume personalities they believe will make them more marketable and end up looking and acting false and wooden because it is not natural to them.
They ultimately failed, because they assumed personalities that were not theirs and took actions detrimental to their beliefs and style. Authenticity is what you are innately, it is ‘what you see is what you get’. Many great leaders who have been successful, with strong personal brands used their authenticity to impact their followers.
Nelson Mandela had a strong brand that could not have been forced or contrived, which stemmed from his beliefs, principles and values. These drove his actions – suffered hardship, fought for his people, imprisoned for 27 years, we all know his travails. These formed his character and personal brand and gave him a very high brand equity. Mandela was able to bring the world’s most influential to his door steps to pay homage. Nobody has been able to replicate this feat.
Authenticity cannot be copied. When you are authentic you are an original. The idea is not that we should not borrow attributes we admire in people with strong brands, but we MUST ensure that we convert these ideas and use them in a way that is more fitting to our personalities and style.
This also brings us to another great leader, Mahatma Gandhi who also had a strong personal brand and fought for his people similar to the way Mandela did. While, Mandela used force he used peace, non-violent civil disobedience and hunger strikes to pave the way for Indian independence. They both achieved the same thing - independence for their countries.
In essence, your authentic brand is made up of your:
It is about differentiating and communicating the special value you offer your target audience, colleagues, employees and competitors.
Your authenticity is to create value - for yourself and others. In today’s world and the future, your perceived value is based on your unique known expertise and contributions.
This is your DIFFERENTIATING FACTOR that people will be willing to pay a huge premium for. You are an original – reflect that in your brand.