Is Your Personal Brand Working Against You?

Your personal brand is supposed to boost your reputation. It’s also supposed to help you spread messages, build relationships and grow your business.

It’s supposed to.

But that doesn’t mean it does. Your personal brand can actually work against you, and can even damage people’s perception of you.

For the first half of my career, I was a copywriter in advertising, and wrote ads for some of the world’s greatest brands. I saw the power of branding to help a brand become more loved and admired.

Yet I also saw that not all branding is created equal. A generic or half-hearted brand can turn people off, and make them less likely to return for more.

The world doesn’t need another personal brand to roll off the assembly line. The world needs YOU.

Avoid damaging your personal brand by making any of these five mistakes.

1. Is your personal brand generic?
Most personal branding techniques give generic tips about how to make an impression. Yet, the whole point is to stand out, and rise above the competition, with authentic traits. Ironic, no?

You can’t stand out by presenting yourself in the same way as everyone else. Avoid  following one-size-fits-all techniques, or else you’re just blending in with everyone else.

2. Does your personal brand seem artificial?

Nobody wants to talk with a fake cardboard cutout. Are you focusing so much on the other person (your customer, your client, your manager) that you’re losing your you-ness?

Don’t focus so much on what you think someone wants that you lose who you actually are. Identify who you are at your best, and the advantages that highlight your greatest value. Build your brand around those core qualities, and you’ll never feel like a manufactured  persona.

3. Do you equate “personal branding” with a resume or logo?

No, no, no. Your personal brand is NOT the same thing as your marketing or resume. It’s not your business card, or your blog, or the color of your website. It’s not artificially manufactured.

Your personal brand should come from within — from your personality. It’s a living, breathing part of you.

What you do should be in alignment with who you are.

4. Is your personal brand stagnant?

Basic personal branding is a good start to a career. But after a certain point, you outgrow where you started. The basics become too basic. Don’t get stuck.

As your income rises, so should people’s perception of your brand.

5. Is your personal brand jumbled and confusing?

It’s easy to think you should change your voice and mindset to match different situations.

Here’s the problem: That makes you seem inauthentic.

Don’t be one person on LinkedIn, and a whole different person in a live conversation. People want a clear, consistent sense of who you are. We want to trust that you’ll be the same person today and tomorrow.

Be more you.

Everything falls into place when you have a clear focal point for your communication. You can stop struggling, and start doing more of what you’re already doing right.

So what’s next?

So many of you have been asking for help in this area. You understand what you shouldn’t do, but you need a game plan of what you should do.

David Ogilvy, one of the smartest branding minds in history, said this: “Tell the truth but make the truth fascinating.”

When you know the truth of who you are at your best, you can be both authentic and fascinating.

The people in your life don’t want the plastic version of you. They want the real you.

Give us the YOU who has ideas and opinions and quirks. Give us the YOU who is different and magnificent and one-of-a-kind. We’ll love you for it.

What is your biggest issue or pet peeve around personal branding? Have you seen examples of personal branding gone horribly wrong?

This post is adapted from Sally Hogshead’s original post “5 Ways Your Personal Brand Can Go Horribly Wrong.”

About the Author: World-class branding expert Sally Hogshead is the creator of The Fascination Advantage™: the world’s first personality test that measures what makes someone most engaging to others.

photo credit: Tug O War via photopin (license)

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