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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Building a personal brand


Kahihu (the author) is an Organizational Development practitioner

As we head towards the end of the year, it is important to start taking stock of how we have fared in building ourselves as brands. Companies spend lots of resources to establish themselves as super brands with the aim of edging out competitors by seeking the priority slot in the minds of the clients. Building brands is no mean feat and calls for a sustained effort to reap the results.

In the same way, it is important to note that people who excel in their respective careers spend time and energy to build their personal brands, not just careers. Effectively developed brands have a way of gaining visibility, acceptance and value in the marketplace. Such brands become the envy of clients and become sought after instead of the brand seeking after employers.

According to an article published by forbes.com, a brand is a name that stands for something in the minds of the prospects. In the Kenyan context, Julie Gichuru is a brand that stands for journalism, Manu Chandaria stands for industrialization while James Mwangi stands for banking. What does your name stand for? If it is yet to stand for something, then there is work cut out for you.

How did Marrisa Mayer for instance score the position as the CEO of Yahoo? According to the Forbes article, Mayer was the 20th Google employee and the first female engineer. She was a brand name that made Google successful. With this success attributed to her, Yahoo went calling and wanted to be associated with the super brand. The brand has made her career thrive beyond her wildest dreams.

How would you develop your personal brand? According to Lisa Ries, a leading brand strategist, two things will help you out. First, define who you are and your unique abilities. Try to define yourself in a single word or concept. There is a lady who defined herself as the “process improvement expert” who “always completed projects on time and under budget.”
Personally, I have branded myself as an organizational development practitioner and career coach. With this brand image, I have obtained offers to speak and counsel with numerous people and institutions. As the brand gains ground, you will have to seek for consistency and always build on the brand for freshness and reliability.

Secondly, understand other people’s perceptions of you. “Think about other people. Think about the impressions you are making on friends, neighbors, business associates. Think about your brand.” Lisa suggests the need to take time to speak with many different people to understand how they perceive your strengths and then use this information as you create your personal brand.

Some of the brand perceptions may not be true. Some could be overvalued while others are undervalued. This understanding will help you know how to package yourself as a brand and build capacity for visibility and acceptance. Start with the baby steps. Talk to your workmates. What do they consider you best at? At some point in my career, my workmates hailed me for facilitating 

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