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Personal Branding 101 – For Media Students

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Garima Chak

It was 10 o’clock in the morning and I was sitting in a very ‘office-looking’ office for the first time in my life, for the first interview of my life. I’m pretty sure you can imagine the desperateness of my situation when under such circumstances the first question the interviewer asked me was ‘Who are you?’. What is that supposed to mean? – I thought. The remainder of that interview is of no consequence to our present discourse so I shall conveniently skip it, even though I did get that job!

The question, however, stayed with me. I thought of why I was asked that question, and the only conclusion I could reach was that perhaps they wanted to know ‘What’ I can be, or ‘Who’ I can be to them! These questions are of great significance to all of us. For, even though we do not realise it, we are all brands in ourselves, and our main quest in our life is to build the brand value, build the band perception for those around us, and earn credibility and loyalty for the brand and the profits that come with it. We all need people to know who we are. And with proper self-branding, not only will we realise who we are, but we’ll also make the right people care, and open up path options that will take us where we want to be.

The idea is not to lie or cheat, but simply to let the light shine! If you have it, flaunt it, and flaunt it strategically at that. Self branding is all about brand building ‘you’, and for that you need to maximize your marketing potential. Celebrity marketing does just that! They make strategic moves with a certain agenda in their mind. That is why celebrity marketing is such a booming business these days. For that matter even artists, musicians, CEOs, physicians, high profile lawyers, politicos, financiers and other professionals get help from celebrity marketers these days.

Some people who have done a masterful job of marketing themselves have become established brand names, even attained iconic statures! Think of David Beckham for instance. His smooth moves on the field followed by carefully chosen endorsements and appearances built his name into an intangible brand, elusive, untouchable even. Closer to home we have Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Shar Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Saurav Ganguly who have all been extremely successful at branding themselves. Tom Peters, a management consultant is himself a master of self-branding advises each person to become a “brand”.

Although self-branding can be self-taught, here’s a little push for you all. I am sharing these few pointers with you so that you are never tongue-tied when asked to market yourself!

1. Ultimate Selling Point.
Identify that one point about yourself that makes you different from the rest. Do you do things differently? What is the one thing that identifies you in the eyes of those around you? It could be anything from your speed to your accuracy to your quality of work. All of us have a certain something that makes us special. And when you want to brand yourself you want to work on that speciality of yours, perfect it and showcase it for the right people to see and notice.

2. Competitive Analysis.
Just as a company must position itself against its competition so must you. Identify your competition, identify the brand perception of their brand and work on it so yours is better than theirs. Build on their edge to create an even more compelling advantage and a much more compelling brand for yourself.

3. Values.
Our personal values guide our decisions. They are the principles that shape the way we work and interact with people. Our personality traits reveal what values are dear to us. Identify the values that guide you, and then focus on the ones that will be most critical to your future. Do not fight yourself because of what you think you should be. Learn what you are and mould it in the way that will best suit you.

4. Impressions.
Every time you associate with someone think of it as an opportunity to strengthen their association of your face or your name with the quality you excel at. You want your name to be thought of in a certain way and for this you have to be sure you leave your name for others to see wherever it needs to be associated with the work that is done by you. Your emails, your remarks, your posts and comments are all aspects of you that can work to build your brand value and put across the idea that you deliver your brand promise. So don’t shy off from taking credit for work done by you- in a sophisticated manner of course.

In conclusion all that remains to be said is that you need to be cognizant of the negative ramifications of over saturating the market with your brand can have. Also grow your brand strategically but do not take the risk of ruining you brand image through the wrong kind of growth. Remember, not all growth is good growth!!

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