The Misconception of Personal Branding

Is Your Personal Brand Authentic?
October 17, 2016

In my discussions with friends, colleagues and clients on the concept of personal branding, many of them jump to a common conclusion that personal branding is about your dressing and looks. This is a big misconception. While dressing and looks are a part of it, it is much more intrinsic than the outward appearance.

Don’t misunderstand me.The outward appearance is very important and can be likened to the way organizations have unique identifiers. They define a colour that is easily associated with their product or service, for example, IBM has a solid blue that communicates stability and reliability. GTBank chose orange which appears to communicate warmth in the mind of its customers.

Surveys have confirmed it to be one of the most loved brands. Orange is now synonymous with GTBank. The default is to think it’s a GTBank’s brand extension if used by another organization.

The use of a visual identifier is to command attention, be memorable and convey a message. People who want to portray a strong personal identity, use their dressing and personal appearance to help portray how they want to be perceived. Wole Soyinka, Fela, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, to name a few, were people who used their outward appearance to convey their personal brands.

However, your brand is much deeper than the outward appearance. It is more about your values, principles and character. The personalities listed in the previous paragraph would not have provoked any emotional response, respect, connection, had success or strong personal brands without the knowledge, values, principles and strength of character that they represented.

Jeff Bezos said “who do people say you are when you are not in the room”. That is your brand! What kind of emotional response do you evoke? What have you deposited in yourself that will make people want to listen to you, relate with you and buy from you, because people tend to trust the person first before the organization.

Behind every successful corporate brand is an individual with a strong personal brand, which separates them from everybody else in the world. It begins with your personal brand vision, and determines how you see yourself in the next 10-20-50 years.

Only you can determine this and it begins with AUTHENTICITY, a topic for next time.