Have you ever wondered how the incredibly reputable Malaysian actress, Michelle Yeoh, becomes so successful on a global scale?
Aside from her impeccable acting skills, her personal branding effort is equally impressive. The combination of both made her stand out among all the other masterful actresses and helped her secure roles in big movies.
Branding can be spotted everywhere you go.
It is common for companies of any sort to engage in branding activities. However, branding on an individual level is on the rise, attributed to access to the internet and readily available tools.
Personal branding differs from conventional branding only in its subject.
Similar to conventional branding, personal branding aims to craft a brand identity distinctive enough to stand out among competitors. However, instead of an entity or company, the branding is for an individual.
With the rise of the internet and its augmentation, personal branding is not going away anytime and will only become increasingly important.
What Makes It Important?
Personal branding is a time-consuming undertaking. Naturally, you will start making a cost-benefit analysis of making the investment in personal branding.
So here are some of the reasons why personal branding is imperative, and some of them are interrelated.
1. Differentiation & Positioning
You have heard of brand positioning or differentiation; it is one of the brand pillars.
The internet enables almost everyone to apply for jobs, start an online business, create a personality brand, etc. Almost every market has become more concentrated than ever.
Personal branding might be your only ticket to positioning and differentiating yourself from the masses.
For job seekers, degrees are now a common commodity. When looking for quality jobs, the degree is just a small piece of the puzzle to distinguish yourself from the rest of the candidates.
And if you are starting a Youtube channel or an online business, personal branding is inevitable.
2. Open Doors for More Opportunities
Similar to brand awareness, personal branding achieves the same function of obtaining recognition.
Malaysia has witnessed first-hand the increase of employees transitioning into freelancing. As the freelancing industry becomes concentrated, your personal branding will give you more visibility and, therefore, more opportunities for work and contracts.
Aside from freelancers, such benefits of personal branding also apply to regular job seekers, online influencers, online businesses, etc.
They differ only in the types of opportunities created by personal branding.
When purchasing on Shopee, you will surely prefer an item with a more solid brand identity over the others. So it is with personal branding.
Personal branding gives you a more professional appearance.
When personal branding helps distinguish you from the masses, it makes your brand more credible at the same time. As explained in the field of social psychology, familiarity breeds credibility.
For example, your YouTube channel will come off as more quality and trustworthy if you have a personalised logo.
As you apply for jobs, your website portfolio will be more convincing for your work than merely a verbal explanation during an interview. So if you want to gain the trust of your target audience, personal branding is the way to go.
Basic Guidelines for Personal Branding
While hiring a branding agency might be of help, most people want to develop their personal branding themselves. If you are one of them, here are some basic guidelines to help you out
1. Start from within
It’s true when they say the first step is the hardest.
Your personal branding will only work if it reflects your authentic self; therefore, it requires extensive introspection.
Think about what you are passionate about, your strengths, and your weaknesses. In other words, do a SWOT analysis of yourself and what you want to do.
Since personal branding revolves around your personality, your brand tone of voice has to be in accordance with the way you speak and act. Define your niche and what qualities that set you apart from the masses.
All this self-reflection may seem tedious and scary to you, but it is necessary.
Without them, your personal branding will be fragile and easily influenced. And an easily swayed brand is regarded, in the eyes of many, as unstable and untrustworthy.
2. Target Audience
After building the backbone of your personal brand, it’s time for research.
The first major research concerns your target audience, as it ties in deeply with what your brand offers.
For example, Yuna, a famous Malaysian musical artist, is adroit at writing R&B and soul music. Therefore, her target audience will naturally have to be those who share the same taste in such genres.
If your personal brand revolves around food blogging, consider your audience to be foodies, housemakers, or even food critics.
When you lock down your target audience, do demographic, geographic, behavioural, and psychographic profiling. The analysis will provide you with a more comprehensive picture to guide you through your personal branding effort.
3. Visual Identity
As you have read, all these visual elements also give you a more professional edge and hence more credibility.
If you have multiple platforms to engage with your target audience, ensure there is brand consistency. In other words, all the visual elements should be consistent and present at all target audience touchpoints.
4. Online & Offline Communication
The in-depth analysis of your target audience now comes in handy.
Find out on which channel your target audiences are the most active and with what kind of messages they engage. Your digital branding will be the most effective when you communicate with your target audiences in a manner they feel comfortable.
Vivy Yusof, for example, became one of the most successful Malaysian internet celebrities via social media branding.
She and her husband launched a reputable fashion e-commerce site, Fashion Valet (FV). Her initiation in the fashion industry is majorly the result of her personal blog’s massive following.
She knew where to engage with her target audience and how to “talk” to them.
Don’t forget about offline branding as well.
Create your personalised business card with all your visual elements present. As a job-seeker, whenever you attend a career fair in Malaysia, your business card is your effective personal branding tool.
5. Walk the Talk
Your actions and conducts have to be congruent with your brand identity.
If your personal branding is based on the principles of, for example, environmentalism, ensure that your lifestyle reflects such. This includes your fashion choice, diet, mode of transportation, etc.
Going astray from what defines your brand will put off your target audience.
Stay true to your brand identity, be authentic, and hold firm to your values. After all, those are the things that attract your target audience in the first place.