Yep, that’s a curve ball headline from the brand builder!
I acknowledge that with the ever evolving digital world we are all ‘personal brands’ of sorts but the best strategy I’ve ever come across is to be a real life person, the person you chose to be every day, a.k.a YOU! A brand needs to feel authentic for people to engage with it and what feels more authentic than being than being you? Today I’d like to have a go at debunking some of the myths.
1. Being a ‘personal brand’ makes you visible
Really?! If you’d have searched for me online in 2014, you’d have found nothing more than a Facebook & Linked In account… both locked down like they were the personal property of an MI-5 agent.
It was an anonymous twitter account that accompanied me as I took my first steps into the world of ‘publicly visible’ in 2014. (Rather ironic given that I’m a 6’2″ woman and publicly visible is in my DNA!) I was so used to having my guard sky high that when I put my first tweet out, I nearly lost the plot – yep, facing your fears comes at all levels people!
I simply tweeted a black and white high fashion image overlaid with a positive quote (Scary stuff, right?). I then tweeted another and another… I started to pick up followers.
I continued to tweet anonymously for around 18 months or so and then it happened… I was ready to put my name to my account. And me putting my name to my account, was me deciding that I was ready to be visible. It wasn’t a personal brand that made that shift happen, it was me. It was my choice and off the back of that choice, I had to change my approach to content. It now had to be content that was aligned with the real Sallee and more than just quotes! So that’s what I did.
Despite the massive change from a steady stream of quotes to today’s focus of startups, brands and like-heighted women; a handful of my early days supporters are still my loyal twitter friends today – Tara, Celeste, Michael, James… and for that I’m grateful.
These days and fifteen thousand or so tweets later, my following sits at just over 22k. I use Twitter to share insights from my favourite online sources, nuggets of wisdom from my own blog, not so niche content from the Tall Guides Magazine and snippets of my life. Seeing as I’m now fluent in motivational quote, I still throw a few of these in for good measure but the most valuable lesson that I look away from this was that I didn’t really nail ‘publicly visible’ until I was ready to step up as myself! Therefore I would argue that it’s not your ‘personal brand’ that makes you visible… it’s having the courage to be you.
2. You always have to present the best version of yourself
Is that so?! Now that I’ve found willingness to be vulnerable and open with my audience, to show them the real Sallee, it allows people to form genuine connections & build rapport. I don’t present perfection. That would feel fake as I’m fully aware that I’m far from perfect. I present me in jeans & wellies walking the dog, I show my face when its free of make up as well as showcasing the good shots, the speaking gigs, the ones where I’ve put in some effort and its aesthetically paid off!
I am what I am; nothing more, nothing less and you can take this journey with me and contribute to my ever evolving story. Or, on the flip side, if I’m not your cup of tea you can choose to walk on by. Everybody is free to message me, pitch me, work with me or if they’re a tall woman, hang out with me!
By being me, I have more person to person online interaction as Sallee in any given month than I had in the entire time that I was anonymous.
3. Authentic means that you have to share everything
Erm… over-sharing is very much a thing! It’s important to develop a healthy awareness that yes, you’re a person but online at least, you’re still loosely seen as a personal brand and you know that google never forgets. So before you post that picture of you running through the fields drunk, naked or otherwise (yes – you may just be being ‘you’ and having a great time but…), please remember that every job you go for, every new client you sign along the journey of your working life is likely to google you, hop over to images and take a look at the pictures that make up ‘brand you’ – try it! What would someone find in your ‘shop window’ if they ran a google image search on you today?
Look, I’m certainly not encouraging you to stop being yourself, I am just reminding you to exercise a healthy level of common sense & bear in mind that some experiences are far better enjoyed offline!
4. You are what you say you are
Well this is sort of true but is what you’re saying correct or is the story you’re telling an outdated one?
I work with a lot of people who have reached a point where they want to do something different. They may have made career or business choices some 5, 10,15 or even 20 years ago and their ‘personal brand’ is what they’ve been saying they are for all that time. But what’s often happened is that they’ve changed… they’ve changed a lot – I mean, who doesn’t in all those years?! Yet, their narrative, the story they tell themselves or even their day job hasn’t.
This is where you need to look within and ask yourself some difficult questions. Yes, you are what you’ve been saying you are but is it making you happy? If you had to start again today, would you still choose the same things? Would you work in the same industry? Would you do the same job? Would you be employed or would you run your own business? If you can remove the limitations and barriers created by your existing story, you’ll be amazed at what’s possible.
What better way to wrap up this article than with a profound & positive quote?!
“Identity is cause; brand is effect. The strength of the former influences the strength of the latter”
Just like brands need to be constantly refreshed, so do the stories we tell to ourselves, and about ourselves. If you can change your words, you really can change your world.
If you have any comments to add on being a person rather than a personal brand, I’d love to hear about it and I challenge you to do it in 140 characters or less – #TweetMe!