Personal branding for a purpose
Some people seem to effortlessly know their talents and move with purpose in a direction that is meaningful to them. For others, talents and purpose are hidden treasures that require digging deeper to uncover. While I have not discovered a magic formula for figuring this out, I did find a very helpful tool in a most unexpected place, and that is personal branding. It’s ironic but true that branding, which is designed for sales, is also a powerful way to discover purpose. Here’s why.
Personal branding in a nutshell
Know how you will add value to life with your talents in a way that is meaningful to you, and communicate it clearly.
True or false
Brands that are effective are honest. They are not about creating a slogan or logo that is false, but about truthfully revealing authentic purpose. Successful businesses build a reputation by knowing what they excel in doing, communicating clearly the honest value they provide, and earning trust with consistent results. A brand that is based on projecting a false front does not earn respect and won’t succeed in the long run. The goal for a personal brand is to reveal clearly and honestly what we do and why. The clarity gained in the process results in amazing focus for everything we do.
See what action steps can reveal your unique personal brand.
Start with a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, sometimes known as a Unique Value Proposition. The essence of your personal brand is a very clear, concise statement of how you will add value to life with your talents in a way that is meaningful to you. To develop a USP, look for the answers to these questions:
- What problems do you want to solve? Why?
- What are your talents and strengths?
- How can you share them in a unique way to achieve your objective?
- What are the benefits you provide?
- Who is your target audience?
- What words best describe what you want to say?
- What images illustrate your focus?
Elements of a USP
Because I believe in (this) passionately I will (use these talents) for (these benefits) by doing (what) how (in this unique way) to (solve this problem).
Consider all these elements, and choose what to include and how to combine them.
Connect with emotions
Think about the needs that you meet and the benefits you provide. In personal branding, benefits often come from skills and attributes. Grab attention with graphics and images that capture the ideas in your USP.
Distill your USP into the clearest, most concise, creative and compelling message you can to communicate it quickly and effectively.
Take time to make time
Revealing a personal brand takes time and effort, but the benefits are so worth the investment. With a personal brand, it’s easy to see the projects that are most important to you.
Try things out
We experience flow when we are so absorbed in something we lose track of time. Flow is the best clue to uncovering hidden talents. Exploring interests, skills, talents and strengths can unearth clues too. The more things you try, the more likely you are to experience flow.
Ask family and friends what they think of your USP. They can often see talents and strengths that may not be obvious to us.
Be brave and reveal your purpose
Being authentic can take courage. Like the Wizard of Oz, hiding behind a façade in order to project a powerful image, we may fear that others might be bored or disappointed with what they see behind the curtain. The truth is, we shine brightest when we connect with and reveal our true purpose.
It’s a messy process that begins with throwing ideas like paint on a wall to see what sticks. Don’t expect to see a clear picture on the first attempt. Leave it for a while, get more ideas, return to add and subtract some, combine some together, and re-arrange them. The result is not much like the original effort. I’m certain of one thing: my USP is not perfect, and probably never will be. But it keeps improving and becoming clearer, and I’m certain yours will too.
Sell your brand, honestly
When interviewing for a job or pitching an idea to a supervisor or investor, it’s important to communicate who you are, what you want to do and why in a captivating way. Selling is something we all do, and the ability to do it well is one of the top skills employers are looking for. Stand out with a clear, honest brand and you’ll do great.
Share your message
Use your personal brand on business cards, resume, email, websites, and social profiles. Your USP can be the starting point for a short elevator speech or verbal business card. Simon Sinek, author of the book “Start With Why,” says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” They’re also most interested in the why. If you can tell a story, it’s even better.
The process of discovering your personal brand clarifies what you are passionate about, how you want to add value, and how you will communicate that. It connects us with our most authentic self in a very powerful way.
Photo: Flickr / Joe Shlabotnik CC BY-NC-SA 2.0