Personal branding has become increasingly popular for professionals in today’s job market, whether they are job seekers, current careerists or entrepreneurs. Everyone has a unique personal brand (a.k.a. your unique and differentiating value), and you communicate your own whether you know it or not in everything you do. A strong personal brand becomes even more critical when you launch a business, blog or website, because in the end, you are your blog and vice versa. Therefore, by default, your brand needs to come first.
What is personal branding exactly?
Personal branding is the process of a) identifying the unique and differentiating value that you offer and b) communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions and outputs, both online and offline.
However, I like to take it one step further and propose you consider lighthouse branding.
What is lighthouse branding?
A lighthouse shines out into the darkness and is seen by anyone at sea regardless of whether he or she is going in the lighthouse’s direction. Similarly, lighthouse branding is this same personal branding process of establishing a unique identity and value that differentiates you from others, but furthermore, one that emits an unshakeable sense of where you stand and why you stand there, thereby creating a personal brand that people notice even when they aren’t looking for you.
The Lighthouse Personal Branding Model
The lighthouse is a great model to use for creating and building your personal brand and is broken down into 4 key components: the foundation, the beacon, the tower and the beam.
Your foundation is a combination of your unarguable strengths and work or professional experience. Your experience to date should be relatively easy to identify and list out. You also likely have a grasp on your own strengths, but ask your trusted managers, colleagues, friends and/or family what they consider to be your top strengths and compare their perceptions to your perceptions. Generally, they should be in line, and where they’re is greatest overlap is likely to be your greatest strengths, or those which you and they both recognize about you.
If you are launching a business or blog in an area that your experience and strengths support, you and your entrepreneurial efforts will have much more credibility and momentum.
However, if you do not currently have experience or strengths that would directly support your new ventures, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them, it just means that you will have to work a little bit harder to build up that credibility in your brand.
You may choose to switch full-time careers or industries to get more experience in one more in line with your blog or website. If so, check out Indeed, a powerful job search engine aggregator that brings together all of the job postings from other sites and engines across the web, saving you time and hassle.
If it is strengths you need to develop, ask your current employer if there are any training opportunities, attend any relevant online and in-person events and workshops, read up on them and try to practice them in any manner possible.
And don’t forget to communicate whatever you are developing. No one will know your brand if you don’t talk about it.
Your beacon is the memorable and consistent communication of your strengths and experience. The best way to do this is to identify one word or phrase that can serve as your personal brand in all of your self-communication. To determine your one-word or one-phrase personal brand:
- Write down your differentiating strengths (those you feel make you stand out from the rest)
- Ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same
- Identify the top 3 to 5 strengths that you feel will support the career direction you want to pursue
- Create/find a word or phrase that can become your personal brand and that represents these strengths. Don’t forget that using Thesaurus.com can help you identify words with similar meanings that you may not have thought of before.
- Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail
Note: Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction.
Your beam of your path of projection is the strong understanding of where you want to go and what you want to pursue. Before building your tower, or your personal brand presence and reputation, it is essential that you determine where your beam will be focused, or what you are targeting, who you are targeting and how you are targeting. This will make your personal branding efforts much more effective.
Your tower is your visibility, reach and presentation, both online and offline, that support the beacon and your beam. Once you have established your foundation, your beacon and your beam, you should focus on building your presence or vizibility in your industry or area of interest (a.k.a. building your tower). There are countless ways that you can build your tower and enhance your brand and reputation, including, but not limited to:
physical appearance, digital appearance, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, personal websites, blogs, books, events and networking. entrepreneurial ventures, volunteering, work projects, podcasts, email signatures and more…