Personal brand power

It's the concept of building presence and you have to be deliberate about it to communicate the story you want to tell

It's a new year. Maybe you've started or are about to start a new job, an interesting course of study or just take your life in a new direction.

It's a time when people think about making that fresh start and, in some cases, changing themselves. Or at least, changing how they're viewed by the world. If this is you, then, whether you know it or not, you're concerned with your personal brand.

It's a buzz word - or buzz term more accurately - but your personal brand is how you're perceived by those around you. Your family, your friends, your colleagues, your potential employer.

Put simply, your personal brand is what people make assumptions about.

So how can you use your personal brand to stand out from the crowd? It's all about building presence.

Authentic self

Brand consultant Emily Kucukalic, Director of Brand New You, says the concept of personal brand starts with the "theory of self" and should be a deliberate, planned extension of "the authentic self".

"Brand has to be based on authenticity. On solid, core elements," says Emily.

[quote]"Branding is about perception, and the principles of branding are clarity, consistency and constancy." -Emily Kucukalic[/quote]

She says the concept of ‘ideal self' is built upon a firm understanding of the authentic self – or "who you actually are".

"It's the concept of building presence and you have to be deliberate about it to communicate the story you want to tell," she says. "What you do and say impacts upon people, so if you don't own the story – others will write it for you."

Tips for telling your story

1. Don't forget the physical – and that includes what you wear

Acting techniques can be useful if they align with your authentic self and the ideal representation of who you want to be. Perhaps it's learning to pause first, before responding. Maybe it's being physically grounded and using your feet to firmly anchor yourself and achieve a sense of balance before speaking. It could be learning to control your hand gestures or maintain eye contact when talking to people.

Physical presentation is also about costume. Be deliberate about what you wear, "it projects an image", Emily says, adding women generally have a wider arsenal of props to call upon, such as accessories and jewellery.

The point, Emily says, is to: "be present, make sure you appeal, use expression and adapt. Be responsive to how other people are looking at you or perceiving you".

2. Remember old school charm

While modern technology can make communication effortless, there is still a place for thoughtful, hand-written correspondence.

"Don't forget about charm," Emily says. "A hand-written card, following up on a meeting, can be very powerful.

"It shows you have taken some time, and thought, to communicate and connect. Done well it can be a seductive tool".

3. Be on your digital guard

What does your digital footprint say about you? Employers, colleagues or peers can build a picture of you based on what they come across through social media and online searching. Every post, photo or comment, can collectively add together to create a representation of you in the minds of others.

Emily says young people and students in particular need to be mindful of what information they are sharing as it can come back to haunt them when they're looking at advancing their professional and working lives. Remember, what you post – even if it's deleted – can live on forever.

"It's really important in this cyber-age to actively position yourself, or others will position you," she says.

For more helpful information on how you can safeguard your digital reputation, check out some of our other posts:

  • Facebook: protecting your privacy
  • Getting linked