If you asked me two years ago what a personal brand was, I would have told you that “no thanks, please don’t stick that hot poker anywhere near me!”
Nowadays, my personal brand is something I work on everyday, and it is something I believe we all must at least be aware of.
So what is a personal brand?
It is not:
Our personal brand is not a visible mark that we carry around with us. It is how people see us by what we have to offer and by what we can do for them.
Our personal brand is based on our online presence, but is also influenced by what we do offline as well. It is what comes to mind when people thing about us, as well as the type of thing we can be expected to share on social media.
Some people have personal brands that are obvious and forever stuck in people’s minds. Arnold Schwarzenegger will forever be the terminator who muttered the line “I’ll be back!”, Daniel Radcliffe will forever be Harry Potter, and Robert Downey Jr. is basically Iron Man in real life, so that one actually works.
The good news is that no matter what you have done in your past, your personal brand is moldable. No matter what decisions or crazy haired videos you make, your personal brand can be changed.
It might take some time (*raises hand…) but once you have a clearer picture of what you want others to see you as, time will be on your side as you begin your new journey.
The point is that your personal brand is not fully defined by your past actions and decisions, but is dependent upon what you continue to do.
For me, before I even knew what a personal brand was I created my website FiberGuardian.com. I loved the name, so it just worked for me. Little did I know that family and friends would start associating everything I did with me as the Fiber Guardian.
Yep! That was me, crazy hair, green glasses, and cape. All put together just to have some fun.
I didn’t know what I was getting into, and I wish someone had explained to me more about personal branding and how it relates to your online presence. You don’t know what you don’t know, and since I was new to the online world, there was a lot I didn’t know!
I was just being myself, (which isn’t a bad thing), but I also didn’t really want my personal brand to just be the Fiber Guardian.
Of course, we are never stuck to our personal brand, even if we have spent years cultivating it. Taylor Swift is currently (2017) in the midst of switching up her brand once again and going more dark and edgy.
I Failed Hard
Having a clear direction is vital, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Surprisingly to us, we often must fail several times before we know the next step. At the dawn of the Fiber Guardian I was caught between two competing ideas. I knew that I wanted to:
- Decide on an overall direction for my online presence (or personal brand) and;
- Work on Fiber Guardian because I knew that I could rank for certain keywords, and I enjoyed writing about health related topics.
Here is the problem though, I knew that I did not want to base my entire online writing career on health related subjects, but I wasn’t sure where else to go, so I jumped and I don’t regret it. I do look back and wonder if I could have become enlightened just a little bit faster though haha.
I believed that in order to run a successful website you needed to let your personality show and be willing to be yourself. The problem is that I wasn’t fully invested in becoming the Fiber Guardian because I wasn’t 100% interested in health topics.
You can run a niche website and make money, but you need to be clear with yourself about how much of yourself you are going to put in because it will reflect one way or another on your personal brand.
I eventually asked myself: Why did it take writing three books to realize that 1 and 3 weren’t really on subjects that I cared deeply about?
Likely, you are much smarter than me and have a clearer picture of your future.
I wrote my first book based on my story with losing weight, then I jumped to my second to talk about taking action to reach your potential. Then my third book hopped back to writing about the dangers of sugar addiction.
Where was I going with this stuff? What direction did I want to take it? Was I just spinning my wheels?
These are hard things to know at the outset, but I wish I had spent more time deliberating and finding out what I was truly passionate about, before I had started to pour my own identity into Fiber Guardian.
Even when I wrote my second book I should have realized that I enjoyed writing that book immensely, and I should have been willing to switch away from Fiber Guardian even then.
Then, when I started this Jmring site, it was going to be just my author site about my books and maybe a blog post here or there.
But no, I finally decided to focus in and gear this blog towards my passion which, while not 100% defined, is in the realm of helping people to get unstuck and to find their potential.
So how do you discover and cultivate a personal brand you can be proud of?
Realize that You Already have a Digital Footprint
We don’t have to be paranoid about “Big Brother” to know that pretty much everything we do online is seen by someone else. Whether or not anyone reads this blog post right away, or 3 years from the date of publication, as soon as I hit publish it will be out for the world to see.
Once again even here in this post the picture of the Fiber Guardian will be on display for the world to see. That’s okay in this case, since my other site is filled with those images, and gasp, videos…
And even if I tried my hardest to erase all traces of the Fiber Guardian he would still exist in pockets of the internet that I can’t touch. Even more powerful, he will remain in the minds of the people that saw him.
This is why you must be mindful of what you put out there for all the world to see. Every Facebook post you write, every blog post you comment on, and every video you make (or others make with you) will forever become part of your digital footprint.
For this reason alone, we must become aware of our personal brand and stay vigilant at all times. Similar to maintaining a good Christian witness where I need to be careful about the things I do and say as to not dissuade potential believers, so too must everyone be aware of what they do and say online.
Take Stock of Your Current Brand
The good news is that it is possible to be aware of your brand and even to change it for the better. Depending on how long you have had a current brand out there, it may take some additional time to change, but it is never impossible.
Ask yourself the following three questions:
- What have I done in the past that might have positively or negatively contributed to my personal brand?
- What am I doing right now to right any wrong doings and take positive steps? (Not everyone has “wrongdoings” but if you do you need to recognize them for what they are.)
- Where do I ultimately want my personal brand to go?
These three questions are the past, present, and future of your personal brand and it is important to be aware of each of them.
- I dedicated my personal brand to Fiber Guardian. Good or bad, that was what I was doing at the time.
- I am currently re-branding myself into this website and building my author platform.
- I want to be known as a writer and influencer in the field of personal development, not Jordan Ring the Fiber Guardian!
What are your answers to these questions? You don’t have to stop reading and write them down, because I don’t do that when blog posts ask me to and I don’t expect you to either. But do spend some time thinking about them.
Crafting a Personal Brand
Creating your own personal brand starts with figuring out what your story is. What value can you offer others by sharing your own personal life experiences? What are the priorities in your life? What are your core values?
It is very hard to get out of the corporate rut if you don’t have your own thing going on, and your personal brand is your ticket out.
When a publishing company asked me for help with some of their marketing efforts do you think they asked me for my resume? Nope. They had already gotten to know me and seen my work through my books and my website.
The power of a personal brand is vastly superior to that of a resume when trying to find a job or a career.
But how do you do it? How do you go from not having a brand at all, to a fully developed and recognizable household name?
It boils down to finding out what your passion is and how that relates to how you spend your everyday life. If you are in a job that you hate, but you have a passion for helping the poor, it might be time for a realignment of your personal brand.
You cannot spend the majority of your time doing something that you don’t love, and then expect to build a personal brand. You must first take responsibility for current predicament and situation, and then take action to start to build the life you want.
Your personal brand can be your ticket to a plethora of open doors, many of which you would have never thought possible. Better yet, others will benefit from your personal experience and the unique way you can present ideas.
We can be people that effect change in ourselves and then society, or we can be the people that choose to stay at an okay job because it pays the bills.
As Jim Carey said in his commencement speech, “You can fail at what you don’t love, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”
What will your choice be?
Step #1: Do What You Love
You might not be in a place where you can easily quit your job, but that’s okay. You don’t need to make any drastic changes right now. Just be aware that before you know it ten years might slip by and you are still in the same place, in the same town, living the same lackluster life. Don’t let time slip you by.
Before it is too late, figure out how to do what you love. You cannot craft a meaningful personal brand without first going after your passion with all of your heart.
Step #2: Get Online
Personal brands exist online friend. Yes, we should be able to attend a conference and not be afraid to speak to people, but for the most part, our personal brand exists on the interweb.
You can do this by making a dedicated social media profile used for sharing things relating to your passion and what you want your brand to be about. Better yet, make a blog or website where you can share your thoughts and ideas with the world and eventually build a tribe of followers.
Again, word of caution here, you can’t take back things said on the internet, so be sure you want to say them before sending them out there for the world to see, hear, and read.
Step #3: Continually Morph into the Best Version of Yourself
“Ahh I don’t even like ponies, why did I decide to make my brand all about pony grooming!?”
Never fear! It is always okay to change course and start something new. Just realize that for years down the road you will still get asked about pony grooming from friends that just can’t seem to forget your passion for the subject.
Always be re-evaluating your brand by looking at your goals and what is important to you.
For me, as an author, I want people to see me as an authority in the personal development field. What this means that I need to focus on my own personal development so I have a leg to stand on. If you are a pony groomer and giving people advice on that subject, then you better be able to keep learning the ins and outs of how to groom tiny horses!
People trust people who have gone through it themselves.
Just like you trust a guy or gal with a 6-pack to give you health advice, people’s trust will increase in you based on your own personal life and how you are seen crafting your personal brand.
Step #4: Don’t be Afraid to be Yourself
This one was a big one for me when I was first figuring out how to craft a personal brand. I would be timid in my writing and shy on camera.
while I still struggle with this and I am no where near perfect, I always try to have fun when writing and doing videos. This means cracking jokes or putting up silly pictures to make people laugh. In real life I am a goofy guy (especially around family!) and I try to show that in what I do.
Don’t be afraid that someone else might not like the real you, because someone will definitely not. It’s just how it is. The more content I produce the more chance that someone hates my writing or thinks my videos suck. Taylor Swift, Tom Brady, and Benedict Cumberbatch all have one thing in common: They have haters. Why? Because they are famous.
The more people that become aware of your personal brand, the more there will be some people that will dislike you and what you do.
Don’t let others stop you from being your true genuine self. If you have one thing to give back to this world let it be your perfect (and maybe even ridiculous!) self.
Alright well there you have it. You are well on your way to building your very own personal brand.
Good luck and don’t be afraid to contact me if you need a push in the right direction, or just someone to tell you that you are awesome.
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Getting Unstuck in a Sticky World: How Taking Action is the Key to Unlocking Your Ultimate Potential
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An awesome post Jordan! I think one of the biggest things is realizing that you can change your personal brand around and that you yourself are malleable just as much. When you change your direction you can change your focus and what your brand is like. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!
Thanks for stopping by Eric. I appreciate the feedback. I think that I’ve only really realized the malleable nature more recently, but I am working to keep changing and keep growing.