The power of personal branding

Most entrepreneurs and executives completely miss out on one of the most powerful branding strategies available on the market today…creating their own personal brand. Most business people understand the need to build brand equity at the corporate level or for products, services, intellectual property, etc., but very few understand the significant benefits that come from increasing their personal brand equity.

From reading newspapers and magazines, listening to media interviews on the radio, watching guest appearances on television, and seeing who receives invitations to speak, you will find that it is usually the professionals who, through careful management, turn out to be the best Innovators and thought leaders have positioned personal branding campaigns. These individuals may or may not have more to offer than their peers other than the fact that they know how to distinguish themselves as subject matter experts.

Imagine a highly successful, high-profile company, and you will likely find that its executives have not only established themselves as leaders within their companies, but are also perceived externally as industry heavyweights and power brokers. When a company’s executives are viewed as subject matter experts and leaders outside of the company, they become more valuable to the company. It’s a true win-win scenario as the executive who knows how to manage their brand equity in turn increases the company’s brand equity. As the company benefits from the executives’ ability to market themselves, they are willing to pay more for their services and work harder to retain their talent.

Regardless of how you feel about the following list of people, you have to agree that they did a remarkable job of building a personal brand that has often led to the creation of modern day empires. Think of Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Sam Walton, Ted Turner, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and many others and you will quickly see how powerful a strong personal brand can be. In fact, spend some time searching the Forbes 400 and you’ll find that you recognize far more names than you don’t… Look at a list of Fortune 500 CEOs and you’d be surprised at how many of their names transformed into strong personal brands. Look at the Inc. 500 or Entrepreneur Hot 100 lists and you’ll see that a number of powerful personal brands are emerging.

The reality is that most of us will probably never achieve iconic status, nor do most of us truly aspire to be. However, increasing your personal brand equity is good for increasing your company’s brand value, increasing your earning power, and improving your job security and/or marketability. Personal branding is far more than an ego game; It’s smart business. If you don’t know how to build a strong personal brand, the following tips will get you in the right direction:

1. Make your environment successful. While some personal brands are built at the expense of others or on the backs of others, the most respected personal brands are built on the success they have created for others. Think “selfless” as opposed to “selfish.”

2. Hire a coach or mentor. This is something that many successful people struggle with, as their pride can be a barrier to seeking the wisdom and advice of others. However, it is one of the best investments you can make in building a strong, sustainable, and respectable personal brand.

3. Invest in Education: Okay, so you’re already making mid-six figures, running your own (or someone else’s) business, and you’re busy… Sadly, getting to the C-suite is a lot easier than staying there. You only stay in the corner office if you continue to hone and develop your skills and competencies. Never sacrifice or give up learning because you think you don’t have the time, or worse, because you think you already know everything.

4. Learn to work with the media, or hire someone to do it for you. When it comes to the media, you only have three choices: a.) You can try to remain invisible, but anonymity will not help you build a brand; b.) You can be a target for the media and while controversy isn’t always a bad thing, it causes more unnecessary brain damage than you probably want to suffer, or; c.) You can be a friend of the media and act as a subject matter expert available as a resource for the media… While the choice is yours, I would personally recommend option C.

My advice is simple… find a good coach or mentor and start building your personal branding strategy yesterday… you won’t regret it.