A One Man Show: Lessons in Personal Branding

Have you ever tried to explain what you do to someone who works outside of the PR and marketing communications industry? If your experience is anything like mine, the conversation usually ends with something like: “So, you write for newspapers…” or “Oh, you create TV commercials…”

The work we do, how we describe it, how we look, how we act and who we have relationships with collectively influence other people’s perceptions of us. The reality is: this also affects how we form opinions about brands, products and services. Whether you’re a big brand, or simply managing your life toward personal goals, it is important to create a consistent personal brand experience for yourself, your potential clients, your friends and your family.

So, I charge you to start today and become your own brand manager – your own one man show, if you will. Vow to love your own brand as much as you love your favorite brands of shoes, clothing, food, etc., and begin developing your own personal brand experience.

To help get you started, here are some lessons in personal branding that will lead you to defining who you want to be as a person and a professional, as well as what your brand experience should look like.

Take inventory

How do you market yourself if you don’t know your brand? Big brands analyze themselves to understand what they are particularly good at. As your own personal brand manager, do the same. Pull together an inventory of your own skills to really see what makes you “you” and it will help you to define your own personal brand. Keep in mind that your personal brand definition should be an indication of what you want out of life, not necessarily where you are right now. And, try to make it aspirational.

Rediscover and reinforce

Think of personal branding as a tool that will help you to achieve your personal and professional goals. It involves re-discovering your talents, reinforcing them and making them known. You can start by looking at areas of your life where you want to achieve success – career, personal and social. Think of it as a bucket list directly linked to your life plan and, ultimately, your brand. For many, personal branding offers personal development and appreciation in their job and personal life. We tell our clients to invest in branding, so why shouldn’t we invest in our own lives and define our own brands. It’s a great way to develop self-confidence or a greater skillset.

Stand out from the crowd

Today’s cluttered environment requires individuals to work really hard to stand out from the crowd. As PR professionals, we craft the best image of our clients, and we must do the same for ourselves. Identify ways that you can be unique from others in the same space, as well as how to build an experience that is unlike the others around you. What you have to offer should differentiate you from others. Think of yourself as a one man show, or business, responsible for your own reputation. You call the shots and can aim as high as you want.

Know who you’re talking to

Really good brand marketers always put their target audience first. The same could be said for your personal brand. Believe it or not, you also have a target audience – the people you interact with. We manage our relationships the same the way brands manage their customers. They introduce new products and promotions to engage us. We make conscious decisions to keep certain brands in our lives because of the value they provide us. So, do the same for the people who choose to be around you and you’ll create a larger support system that will help further your personal and brand development.

See what’s being said

If you’re like me, then you’ve probably Googled yourself at least once. Good news is that we’re not alone – 56 percent of Internet users have searched for their own name online, says the Pew Research Center. And, believe it or not, Googling yourself is important to managing your personal brand. Take a look and see if you are satisfied with the results.

Manage your social media

Wouldn’t it be great to sit on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube all day, liking funny pictures and commenting on others’ posts? The key to good personal branding online is knowing how to balance strategic posts with otherwise useless time online. Figure out how you want to come across to potential clients, family and friends. Nowadays, there is a lot of weight on how you appear online – keep it clean, classy and highlight and celebrate your achievements.

Sell yourself

Lastly, sell yourself and your soul, and do it with well-coordinated pitches that let your potential clients know what they’d get with you. But, make sure you can deliver on your promises – don’t oversell. You know yourself better than anyone, so coming up with a marketing strategy shouldn’t be too difficult. You put in the effort to develop your personal brand, now allow yourself to shine!

About Lauren Llewellyn:

With a background in integrated marketing, public relations and branding, Lauren Llewellyn serves Virginia-based clients with national presence in Padilla’s health and corporate practices. She manages a diverse range of projects for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, including an integrated advertising campaign, internal and external communications, branding and event planning. She also leads a national media relations campaign for ABLEnow, supporting the launch of Virginia529’s tax-advantaged ABLE savings program for people with disabilities, that has garnered coverage in US News & World Report, CNBC and The Associated Press. Lauren earned a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University, concentrating in branding and public relations.

3 Comments on “A One Man Show: Lessons in Personal Branding

  1.  by  Emily Valentine

    Thanks for the insightful and well-written post, Lauren. When strangers ask me what I do for a living, I often find myself saying “I work in communications” or “I work for a PR agency” and I can almost immediately see them glaze over. Your tips are a good reminder that it’s important to think outside the box in terms of how I describe my career … “communications” seems such a blah term to describe what we actually do — and I haven’t had a “blah” day since I started in this field!

    Good food for thought, here, keep it coming!

  2.  by  Michael Whitlow

    Since I know you are following your own advice, this resonates with me as a reader. I’m a big believer in “careers” being something that occur only in looking back, so each of us needs something to focus on as our string of jobs evolves into whatever we’re going to end up calling them. Focusing on the excellence you (uniquely) can bring to work has always been a fascination of mine, and I think you hit upon some of that sentiment here. I’m also going to take away a phrase and use it: “otherwise useless time online.” 🙂

  3.  by  Kelly

    A terrific post and a good reminder to all of us. The most valuable part of a branding exercise for an organization is the ability to help them focus on their strengths and not attempt to be all things to all people. It’s liberating to understand that we don’t need to be great at everything. Brands also help organizations to be more purposeful, and personal brands can help us be more personally purposeful. A good thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *