Personal branding is a strategy in which an individual or company seeks to make the best use of its attributes in order to project an image that is easily recognized and associated with anything that the entity does. Closely associated with impression management, the idea is to assess the passions, abilities, desires, strengths, and weaknesses that are present, and utilize them to create an image or brand that is both accessible and compelling. This process of personal branding is often key to success within social as well as business settings.
One of the underlying principles of personal branding is that in order to project a positive image, it is necessary to understand the assets that the individual possesses. Doing so makes it possible to cultivate an image that is based on facts rather than on attributes that the individual wishes he or she possessed. For example, an actor who has a natural affinity for dramatic roles will want to cultivate an image as being a gifted dramatic actor, rather than attempting to build an image as a comedic performer, an area where the actor has little to no ability.
In order to advance the process of personal branding, those innate talents must be coupled with the passions and desires of the individual. While someone may have a strong ability to play one or more musical instruments, that particular attribute may not be relevant to the desire to be perceived as a competent business owner. Assuming that the individual also has an aptitude for business management, the focus would be on that skill set, and not musical ability.
Along with assessing personal assets and relating them to what the individual is passionate about, personal branding also requires determining what weaknesses the individual may possess, especially in terms of character, education, or abilities that relate to the image he or she wishes to project. Here, the goal is to identify those factors that could undermine customer perceptions about the individual, and thus prevent or damage consumer confidence. Once those aspects are identified, steps can be taken to minimize or eliminate them, or turn them into strengths in some manner.
Personal branding also involves developing strategies to sell that brand to consumers. Unless others can readily associate the individual with the qualities they look for when doing business, the opportunity for success remains limited. By cultivating an image that projects all the qualities that consumers find desirable, the opportunity to earn recognition, generate revenue, and establish long-term working relationships with clients is greatly enhanced.
In the end, personal branding involves a process of taking a self-inventory, developing skills, identifying and constructively dealing with weaknesses, and projecting a level of competence that ultimately wins the confidence of others. As with many aspects of human interaction, personal branding is a process that continues throughout a lifetime, allowing the individual to deal with new circumstances in a manner that helps to ensure ongoing success.