Personal branding – and why it matters

personal branding

On Monday, LinkedIn hosted a Henshall Centre workshop on personal branding – and we had a packed house.  The 90 minutes were chock full of ideas, helpful templates and some whistle-stop coaching on personal branding. We kicked off considering branding, and why it is important to look after your personal brand.

As PR/communications professionals, we understand the intrinsic value of brand for our clients.

  • Brands encourage loyalty and recommendation
  • Brands justify pricing
  • Brands provide a shortcut to understand difference

But perhaps the most important of all, brands make promises and brands earn trust.

At work, we tell our clients to differentiate themselves, and to talk about benefits before features.  We don’t let our clients describe themselves as “the leading mid-sized industrial company” (or, worse – “the leading solutions provider”).  And these messages build to create meaning for a brand. The brand is the shortcut or trigger which makes the audience recall the messaging.

‘Who are you?’ is not a request for a name in our world,

it’s an opportunity to explain your value.

The idea of personal brand is to make use of these techniques for yourself, within your industry or workplace.  An effective personal brand is key to elevating you in your clients and prospects eyes to a trusted position above the competition. Well matched personal brands in a sales situation can ensure that even if you don’t have the coolest ideas or the smallest price tag, you are the person, or team of people, that the client aspires to work with.

Personal branding is the act of managing the way in which you are perceived and valued, but when we talk about ourselves we get very literal.  “I am an account manager”. “I am a company director”.  “I am a comms consultant”.

Very few of us take the opportunity to talk about our value when asked to talk about ourselves.  You need to know the value you bring, so you can communicate it to clients and anyone else you interact with through work. If you are part of a team or agency, your colleagues need to know how to explain you and the value you add too.

So how can you illustrate that value when answering the question: ‘Who are you?”

1: Define who you are according to the target audience you most want to address. This is your first clue to avoid PR industry jargon and job titles.  Even when answering a very specific and operational question you can improve upon “I am an account manager”, with “I manage the day to day activity on your account”.

2: Play to the gut feeling, emotion or intuition of your audience.  You need to identify not only the rational and explicit needs and actions of your audience, but also their unspoken thoughts and behaviour drivers. Do they need reassurance?  What are they worrying about? Do they want clinical professionalism, or is it important that they are dealing with three-dimensional humans with characters?

We will be running more workshops and online courses about personal branding in the future because it certainly seemed to attract strong interest. If you are interested in hearing more about these future learning opportunities please pop an email to info@henshallcentre.co.uk.