personal branding: 4 steps to becoming your own advertisement

 Photo Credit: Rodion Kutsaev

Photo Credit: Rodion Kutsaev

Earlier this week I posted an article about personal branding and why it’s so important (Personal Branding: Why You Need to Be Your Own Billboard). We walked through the “what” and the “why,” and now it’s time to focus on the “how.”

So that being said, how do you go about building (or reinventing) your own personal brand? Start by asking yourself these 4 questions (I’ll walk through mine with you!):

1)      Top 3 things you want to be known for

This was a little hard for me as I am a born and bred perfectionist (meaning I want to be known as being great at EVERYTHING), but let’s be real, I will never be on Top Chef for my cooking skills. Instead, when people are speaking about me at my funeral, I want them to remember me as being a) successful, b) kind, and c) fun. And just overall awesome, but that’s kind of hard to nail down, so I’ll focus on those 3.

2)      What/who do you feel exemplifies those aspects and why?

Here is where you really think about what those qualities mean to you. What is your definition of your top 3? And who do you associate with those terms? Successful, in my eyes, equates to doing something that I love and being able to support myself and the lifestyle I want by doing it, all the while looking like I stepped out of a Burberry ad (AKA I want to look classy and fierce, everyone). Being kind means treating everyone with the respect they deserve (and if you don’t deserve it, sorry ‘bout cha) and being there for my friends and family. And as for fun, well, I basically want to be Will Smith – someone who doesn’t take life too seriously and is always up for a good time. Your definition may be different than that of everyone around you, but as long as you have in your mind what you’re seeking, that’s all that matters.

3)      Ask those around you to describe you in 3 words and see how they coincide with your top 3

To get a better variety, I asked people who see me in different aspects of my life: my mother, my co-worker, and one of my best friends. Here is what they came up with:

i.      Mama Knies:  Intelligent, giving, loyal

ii.      Co-Worker:  Self-sufficient, grounded, witty

iii.     My College BFF:  Super driven, always up for anything, and wildly attractive (I think she was overstepping on that one, but hey, I’ll take any compliment I can get.)

Luckily, a lot of what they listed directly relates to my top 3, which means that I’m already well on my way to giving off my desired image. However, if yours don’t, think about why they may have described you in the way they did (or ask them yourself).

4)      What do you need to do to move towards changing your image to fit your brand?

First and foremost, reflect on your actions (not thoughts, people…those don’t count here) thus far and how you need to alter them to coincide with the direction you want to head. Do you need to give up those Thirsty Thursday parties so that you’re still able to bring your A-game to work on Friday? Or trade in those clothes that were cheap but don’t really fit that well to come across as the stylish 20-something you wish to be? For me, I definitely need to spend less time on Pinterest and more time writing for you all.  And I need to stop worrying so much about whether or not my yard is mowed on time or if skipping a gym day is going to really set me back.  Life is short, and I need to realize that.  Figure out what you need to do to align yourself with your brand and then do it. Write down that game plan, miss, and STICK TO IT.

Secondly, give yourself a reminder. I’ve written my 3 qualities in a spot where I see them every day so that they are constant reminders of whom I want to be. It helps me to keep my “brand” in mind during those day-to-day moments when I’m tired and don’t want to put in the effort to showcase myself. Yes, I’ve stayed out past midnight on a Wednesday night where I’ve had to be up for work at 6am the next morning, but I didn’t roll into the office with my hair in a messy bun and bags under my eyes just because I was tired – I want to be taken seriously as a professional and looking like I just rolled out of bed doesn’t really reflect that.

Your personal brand shouldn’t be something you have to consciously think about every day; however, you should always keep your Top 3 in the back of your mind so that when a tough (or not so tough, whatever) choice comes along, you can choose the path that leads you towards that image you want to project. You are the decision-maker when it comes to how you want to be perceived by the world (ah, so much power!). Stylish, intelligent, adventurous, laid-back – whatever your brand may be, make sure you are exemplifying it in your words, your actions…and your Twitter account ;)

If you have time, check out the infographic below that I found at regarding how your responsibilities in every day life reflect on your personal brand.  We wear a lot of hats, ladies (and gents)!

 Photo Credit: Jason Briscoe

Photo Credit: Jason Briscoe