Branding has become a buzzword. The term has been misused and distorted, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the concept. Branding is a force for personal expression and influence.
What is a brand?
One of my favorite definitions of a brand is from Seth Godin:
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. The design is essential but the design is not a brand.
Here’s what branding is not:
Branding is not trying to please the masses, as in, “How can we be more relevant to this demographic?” or, “I need a cool logo.” Branding is not aspiring to a trendy vision to grab market share. This is fake, outside-driven, and gives branding a bad name.
My definition of personal branding is: The public expression of your calling.
Let the simplicity of that definition sink in.
The goal is to be intentional when creating your brand in the age we live in. One hundred years ago, if you were a bootmaker, the sign outside your shop would have probably been a huge image of a boot.
You love to make boots.
I want new boots.
I see your sign, and walk in!
Simple, right? Clearly defining what you offer, in a unique way is the essence of personal branding.
Two keys for a powerful brand
You must be both:
1 — Authentic
2 — Persuasive
Most brands are one or the other. For example: “A blog about my life” may be authentic and true, but will anyone be interested?
Or: “The most amazing keynote speaker on the planet” might sound persuasive, but is it authentic?
A purely factual approach to branding will probably be boring. The hype that’s not grounded in truth will fizzle. An influential brand must be 100% authentic and 100% persuasive. It’s possible, and essential, to express both.
Three ways brands are built
All the words you use in communication and web.
Every image you publish.
Every action you take. (Books or resources you create, and events you produce)
Your brand is calling
Have you ever considered the connection between your calling and your brand? Are you challenged by these two concepts, as they apply to living your dream?
Intentionally building a personal brand doesn’t have to feel like an exercise in arrogance. But the process can be uncomfortable because it involves putting yourself under a microscope.
First, Let’s talk about the “why” — our motivation for launching a brand. If you’re interested in launching your dream project, or dream life, it’s likely you’re motivated to make changes or start over at some level, right? You want to become a truer version of yourself.
The desire to reflect your particular talents, and connect with others who value your gifts, is about more than money, isn’t it? So, what’s your why?Why do you want to launch a new brand, business, nonprofit, or career? Can you articulate the core desires that drive you?
Your future audience needs to know.
Will you believe?
The process of communicating your calling involves faith. Actually believing in the unique way God wired you affects not only your personal goals but the daily choices you make and the risks you’re willing to take.
Do you desire to make a living by doing what you love? Are you interested in working with the people you’re energized to connect with? Do you dream of living in the place you feel most alive?
All of us share one common calling — to be ourselves. But we often doubt how our personal weirdness and deep desires can really be connected to our work and our future. But they are.
If you believe, or simply have a hunch, you’re called to a certain line of work, you’ll invest time, energy, and resources to develop the skills necessary to attain your goal.
For example, if you are called to write, you’ll take steps to learn the craft, and at some point, let others know you’re a writer — even before you get paid to write!
We might not know everything about our calling, but we can articulate what we do know about the value we provide today. Start articulating your unique value to the world, and build your personal brand.