Twelve strategies you can use to build your personal brand
Although Michael Jordan may have last laced up his hightops in 2003, he now ranks first in Repucom’s Celebrity DBI, which tracks awareness and consumer sentiment for nearly 4,000 celebrities in the United States. Jordan is now the most marketable person in the United States, ahead of icons such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Tom Hanks. He posts top-10 scores for aspiration, endorsement, and influence. And Jordan’s awareness level is unrivaled at 98%.
Jordan has evolved into one of the most marketed sports figures in history. He has been a major spokesman for brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, McDonald’s, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac, Wheaties, Hanes, and MCI. Jordan has had a long relationship with Gatorade, appearing in more than 20 commercials for the company since 1991, including the “Be Like Mike” ads in which a song was sung by children wishing to be like Jordan.
The Jordan brand remains a cash cow for its owner, Nike, and its namesake, MJ. You may be interested to learn that total Jordan-brand retail shoe sales hit an estimated $3 billion last year, with a market share of 64% in basketball, compared to 29% for Nike-proper, 3.6% for Under Armour, and 2.3% for Adidas. And Nike has bigger plans, with a goal of doubling the brand’s revenue by 2020.
The real power of Jordan can be seen in the fact that his earning power has transferred from his athletic years into his personal brand after his retirement from basketball. In 2015, Jordan became the first billionaire NBA player in history and the world’s third richest African-American, behind Oprah Winfrey and Robert Frederick Smith. In addition to his riches, Jordan was ranked as the greatest athlete of all time in a 2015 Harris poll that encompassed all the major sports:
So how has Jordan’s brand taken off even though he is no longer visible on the court? Simply put, he is still relevant, bold, and cool. And he is seen as doing things “differently,” as he did in the NBA when he accepted a $5,000 per game fine for wearing shoes that were not one solid color. Personal branding extraordinaire—Michael Jordan.
Personal branding: What is it?
Personal branding is the method we use to market ourselves and our careers. It’s the process of establishing an image or expression in the minds of others. In the book Be Your Own Brand, David McNally and Karl Speak convey that a strong personal brand means that you are communicating the sense of purpose, vision, and values that reflect and embody the real you. Personal brand is the “perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you,” state McNally and Speak.
Your personal brand is all about you as a person, but in a more public sense it’s how you project your image to the outside world. Personal branding includes the perceptions, qualities, and characteristics people associate with you, your name, how you conduct yourself, and your professional position. In a fundamental sense, your personal brand is your reputation. It’s what people say about you when you leave the room. The most successful personal brands are an authentic reflection of that person’s true qualities.
Consistency is essential in personal branding. The more your customers experience the same values and emotions through each interaction with you, the more they will trust, respect, and value a similar relevant experience every time. You earn your brand. It’s your reward for the hard work of building meaningful and authentic relationships with your audience.
You should view your personal brand as a trademark, an asset that you must protect while continuously molding and shaping it. Glenn Llopis, a contributor to Forbes, states: “Developing your personal brand is essential for the advancement of your career. Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.” That being said, a survey conducted by the Glenn Llopis Group showed that less than 15% of professionals have fully defined their personal brand, and less than 5% are living it consistently at work.
In your quest to enhance your personal brand, six related terms and strategies will help you:
Brand Identity—A set of individual components, such as a name, a design, imagery, a slogan, a vision, that set your brand apart from others.
Brand Awareness—The customer’s ability to recall and/or recognize your brand. This is a key factor in the customer’s purchase decision process.
Brand Communication—Your ability to transmit a clear, consistent message to your target audience.
Brand Trust—The intrinsic believability of your brand.
Brand Differentiation—The degree to which the customer can distinguish your brand from others in the marketplace.
Brand Equity—The totality of your brand’s worth. People pay more and stay loyal to brands they trust.
It’s important to note that personal branding does not mean self-promotion. Rather it is the value you consistently bring to serving others. Every time you’re in a meeting, at a conference, or involved in a customer engagement, you should be mindful of what others are experiencing about you and what you want others to feel and sense. The more you express your natural self, the more successful the interaction.
Social media and personal branding
Michael Jordan has more than 27 million Facebook fans, and the Nike-run Jordan Twitter account has some 1.7 million followers. Social media didn’t even exist when Jordan retired, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t used it. Just the opposite. Michael Jordan has adapted his marketing and brand to the latest digital communication techniques.
Thanks to the rise of the Internet, personal branding has become big business. The growth of the virtual world has created the need to manage online identities. Because individuals want to portray themselves in a certain way to their social circle, they work hard to maintain a specific image on their social media sites. Far too often, however, their social media presence doesn’t reflect the authentic personal brand they desire in the business environment.
Although social media can be an aid in your personal branding initiative, it’s essential that you realize that developing your personal brand is a never-ending journey that extends well beyond social media.
As you may have experienced first hand, employers are increasingly using social media tools to vet applicants before offering them interviews. Such techniques range from searching the applicant’s Facebook presence or Twitter feed to conducting extensive background checks using search engines and other tools.
Twelve strategies to build your personal brand
Consider using the following 12 strategies to build your personal brand:
Discover your natural strengths and unique abilities. You will gain enhanced success as you focus on your God-given talents, as well as those activities that give you energy and enthusiasm.
Emotionally engage the customer. Research substantiates that more than 50% of the customer experience is subconscious, or how the customer feels. Emotional engagement is the foundation of the customer experience journey.
Create a positive first impression. An impression is a strong effect produced on one’s intellect, feelings, or conscience. Because your first impression is lasting, it’s critical that you make it a good one.
Deliver a unique message. Your brand requires a value proposition that is clear, concise, and compelling. Your message must summarize why the potential customer should buy your products or services and how they are superior to what your competition offers.
Live servant leadership. A strong personal brand is achieved through a selfless approach to leadership, one that places serving others—customers, community, and country—as priority number one.
Be process- not product-driven. Today’s consumers expect you to sell them products. Your brand will be enhanced when you lead with a process-oriented, not product-oriented, approach. Process is best defined as a series of actions or steps to achieve a particular end.
Invest in relational capital. Your ability to invest in the qualities of credibility, integrity, and authenticity will elevate your brand and help you build deeper relationships.
Teach the customer something he or she doesn’t know. Today’s consumers are demanding more depth and expertise from insurance and risk management professionals. Your brand will take off when you bring new ideas and find innovative ways to help your customer’s family and/or business.
Know your ideal client. Professionals with the strongest personal brands have a laser focus on their ideal client, and they are recognized for their expertise in an industry and/or product line.
Statement of purpose. In stating the purpose of your professional existence, you’ll gain clarity and confidence about your personal brand. When you map out your principles and point of view, you become hard to replicate.
Become a storyteller. Storytelling is the art of using language, visualization, and/or physical movement and gestures to reveal the elements and images to a specific audience. Storytelling enhances brand awareness, trust, communication, and differentiation.
Social media strategy. It’s essential that you discover your customers’ preferred online communication channels. Use social media to its fullest to demonstrate the unique and authentic you.
Although the brand of Michael Jordan may seem far out of reach, it offers many lessons that you can learn and apply to your career. Your personal brand … own it!
Scott Addis is the CEO of Beyond Insurance, a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development. Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.
To learn more about Beyond Insurance, contact Scott Addis at firstname.lastname@example.org