What is a Brand?
The term ‘Brand’ is defined as a name , term ,design ,symbol , or other feature that distinguishes an organisation or product from its rivals. Common synonyms for the term are : class , label , make and style.
Personal branding is one of most important elements in our rises to success and the reasons for this will be explored. Personal branding is said to be the practice of people marketing themselves and the careers they are involved with – as brands. It may be strange at first to think of your self as a brand as it is almost as though we are treating ourselves as an object. However, it is far more than this. As individuals, we all have culture, values and certain characteristics that make us unique and set us apart from others – positively. By creating personal brands for ourselves, we are affirming and strengthening these key parts of our identities.
One of the key reasons why personal branding is important is the necessity of standing out from the crowd. We live in a world where there are many, many successful and intelligent people. So in light of this, how can any single person be noticed in this sea of extraordinary people? I believe there a few answers to this question. However, I believe I am able to best answer this question with the 4Cs: Career, Character, Create, and Community.
It is not possible for every student/professional to have a clear set-out plan or career path for themselves. Some people take a while to figure out what they want to do. Some would rather be active in searching and allow things to unfold before them as they go along and others may create very detailed goals and milestones they wish to achieve. I believe that a career, in general, does not have to be seen a narrow way and should, however, be seen from a wider perspective.We this by finding ways in which we can be involved and interact with the various different kinds of students and professionals in the world. And by doing this, I believe our ‘career paths’ become far clearer through the interactions we have with people from different walks of life.
Secondly is character/personality. We all have key characteristics that distinguish us from other people. And, these characteristics can be from the way we look and dress to what our personality and values are. The character of an individual is important because people need to know at least a summary of others that allows them to understand them and evaluate whether you are the kind of people they want to invest time or money in, listen to, collaborate with or follow. Therefore, as a student/professional, it is essential that you are aware of elements of your own character and that your own character will persuade and create curiosity about yourself and what you do. Being aware allows you to strengthen these elements.
Once you are able to establish what your character is, everything you say or do will reflect your character as a person. For example, if you are passionate and keen about business and law then, this we show through the actions you take to promote what you do in your field. Creating content for fellow individuals within your field is an amazing way to affirm that which you believe as well as showcasing your talents as a student/professional. As you create more and more content you will be gaining valuable experience and in doing so you may gain a fanbase hence, boosting your personal brand. Example of a place in which you can create content is Linkedin. And, even if you are not able to create content, the act of sharing other individuals’ content shows others what you are interested in and that you are socially active in your career.
Lastly is the importance of community. I believe that as students/professional we must declare our place within the communities we find ourselves in. Today, I believe it is not enough to simply be aware of the content created within our fields of work and that we must also interact with the content creators in order to develop a better understanding. And by doing this, we also find new connections with interesting people.Joining in conversations about content that is relevant allows us to stay up to date and develop our communication skills. This is a practical example of personal branding and active involvement in our community. As your personal brand becomes more and more prevalent within your community, you realise that this is likely to be a result of your on-going participation within that community.
In conclusion, The 4Cs are only a brief explanation of the purpose of personal branding and there are many other reasons for its importance. However, I believe to a great extent that ‘career, character, creation, and community’, serve as the center of an individuals’ personal brand. When we are able to recognise and understand each of these keys parts, we will realise that, as individuals, we can do well in our careers if we are able to promote ourselves, increase our reputation and relevance in our field of work.
” The purpose of your brand is to represent your purpose”
~ Michael Kouly
Author and Speaker
Le Sapeur Congolais | Picture by Ilja Smets © Creative Commons