Hands up if the phrase "personal brand" makes you feel a little bit sick?
They are dirty words. I was asked to write this article because, apparently, I have a personal brand and even I confess that when given this feedback, I recoiled slightly.
It is because a lot of people think that having a personal brand is grossly contrived. They see it as a "marketing wanker" thing to do. Someone who has the time to work on their personal brand is creating an idealised image of themselves that they can sell to people. Am I right?
But the way I see it, a good personal brand is just like a good brand.
A good brand knows what it is about and why it has been put on this earth. It understands what it it is there to give and delivers against this 99% of the time. It does this by knowing its purpose and its consumers. This gives people a reason to give a shit about it – buy it, enjoy it, be loyal to it. If you were Simon Sinek, you’d say that this brand knows its "why".
Let’s apply the same principles to the personal brand – this person knows what they are about and why they have been put on this earth. They understand what they are there to give and deliver against this 99% of the time. They do this by knowing their purpose…
Why do we roll our eyes and think it self-indulgent when a marketer admits to working on their personal brand? To my mind, all it means is that this person knows who they are and how they add value – and they are consciously thinking about ways to deliver against their purpose for as much of the time as possible.
A question of purpose
Ah, purpose… that word. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all find our "purpose"? What does it even mean? According to Google, it is: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. So that means, in our case, we’re talking about a person who knows the reason why they exist and they are seeking to deliver against that. "And how do you find that out?" I hear the cynics cry, "the reason why you exist is all getting a bit esoteric if you ask me." Well, cynic, that is self-awareness.
I have come to realise that self-awareness is the key to unlock the "purpose" treasure chest. If you know truly and deeply who you are – your hopes, dreams, fears and what gets you up in the morning – you grow to understand what the most important drivers are for your personal brand. Your purpose.
They say there are only two important days in your life – the day you were born and the day you figure out why. As you get to know yourself better, as you realise what you have to give the world, as you find the thing that sets your soul on fire, it’s like opening a doorway to heaven. You find you have an insatiable thirst to keep finding ways to do more of this thing and, like a snowball, it keeps building and growing.
When you find your purpose, you realise why you have been given a voice and you want to use it. It’s the perfect coming together of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and (if you’re really lucky) what you are paid for. I believe that I’ve recently found my purpose: to connect with others to help show them the transformational power of this magic thing called "personal development".
The best self
Personal development is about learning how to be our best selves for as much of the time as possible. The price of a ticket? No-holds-barred self-awareness. The destination? Living your life "on purpose".
My personal development journey has unleashed in me a ferocious energy to share its power and to do things I never would have dreamed of before. And, yes, to write a personal brand plan. I have found something that I feel deeply passionate about and which I’m hoping is making a positive impact on the world.
What would it look like if we each found our voice, our "purpose" – the thing we want to shout from the rooftops about because we find it that inspiring – wouldn’t that be a thrilling thing to see?
And so, I’ll leave you with a challenge: what would you be shouting about if you’d found your voice? If you knew your purpose, what would your personal brand stand for?
Where to start: four ways to build your personal brand
Take the time to think about what your key positive USPs are – what sets you apart from everyone else and how do you add value? What would you like to be known for? A great way to do this is to ask for feedback from colleagues and friends – they can help to play back how you interact with the world and what you’re "giving out".
Actions speak louder than words – ensure that you’re living out your values in everyday life. Consider what is important to you and live that as much of the time as possible. Have integrity in your choices. People respect genuine authenticity and those who practice what they preach.
Be self-aware – take the time to be reflective about who you are and how life plays out for you. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, where things go right and wrong and what that means. Respond constructively to the information you discover.
Commit to getting to know yourself better (like, really getting to know yourself). Spend time exploring your hopes and dreams, your pushers and drivers, and get to understand what your raison d'etre is and what you want your legacy to be. Courses, coaching and mentoring can be great investments on the explorativative journey towards self-actualisation.
Alice ter Haar is EU marketing lead for Deliveroo.