“We think branding is what you do when you want likes or fans, or you want to be famous…actually, anyone who interacts with other people needs to think about branding. Your brand is how the world experiences you and what they believe to be true.”
—Personal branding expert Lida Citroën
I recently had the privilege of attending the Texas Women’s Conference, and one of the panels that I found most valuable was called, “Your Brand: How to Define and Market Yourself.” We often think that personal branding is only important for influencers and celebrities, but the truth is that we are expressing our personal brand constantly—from the words that we choose to use to the energy that we bring into a room.
There are many ways to assess and build a personal brand, but I think Simidele Adeagbo explained it in the simplest way. Simidele, who led marketing campaigns at Nike for 15 years while training for the Olympics, described a process that Nike uses called “DIG.”
- Discover: What makes you unique?
- Ideate: How can you establish a position around the things that make you unique?
- Go: Take action to tell your story.
DISCOVER: WHAT DO YOU VALUE?
Personal branding is anchored in what you believe. If someone took these things away, you wouldn’t be you. If you don’t know where to start, seek outside perspectives and feedback, whether it be from friends, peers or coworkers. Spend time examining the things that you’re good at.
Think about four core ideas or topics that are central to your identity and points of activation for your brand (aka brand pillars). Yes you, as a person, will have brand pillars.
IDEATE: WHERE ARE YOU STARTING FROM?
This is where you should begin to focus on the narrative surrounding your brand. The way that your brand shows up is in your reputation. This does not just mean verbal cues, such as the way we speak, but nonverbal cues as well, such as our level of eye contact or our posture.
How do you talk about yourself? That sets the foundation for how others see us. How do you introduce yourself? It’s not just about your title, it’s about why you do what you do. Credential yourself, talk about your “why” and make it personal. That is what makes for an interesting elevator pitch.
You should set the expectation with confidence, clarity and intention. People will believe what you tell them until you prove otherwise.
Think about how you can establish a position around the things that make you unique. What are the ways in which this could manifest itself out in the world? Ideate around that.
GO: HOW DO YOU SHOW UP?
Own it. Step into uncomfortable places and have the courage to take on the tasks that scare you or that others never would. People are drawn to realness, and if you let them come along, they will help you build your brand. Embrace the journey. Authenticity can be difficult, awkward and scary, but it’s about consistency, not perfection.
Be resourceful. Who is in the space that you want to be in? Connect with like-minded people. Surround yourself with people, environments and jobs that allow you to do what you’re good at.
When we think about “showing up,” we often think of social media, but we have the opportunity to show up far beyond that. The clothes that we wear, the products that we choose to buy and our professional network are all ways that we show up. They are all opportunities for us to tell our stories and they are all reflections of our brand.
Think about the ways you can tell your story and take action to show up in those spaces.
When you put all of these things into action, you will shine through in your personal and professional interactions AND your brand will be unstoppable. Keep discovering, ideating and going. Just keep DIGging.