05 August 2016 11:58:22 IST

The importance of building a personal brand

Building brands today is quicker, but can rarely happen overnight

It has now been established that people can be brands. And we are not talking about famous people like Sachin Tendulkar and Priyanka Chopra — we are talking about people like you and me who have a career and aspire for leadership roles. Let’s step back a moment and figure out what makes brands successful.

Successful brands are ‘relevant’ to their consumers and are ‘different’ from their competitors. The same applies to personal brands as well. While in earlier generations, this was a slow, arduous task given the paucity of media, today, the growth of the internet and the way media is being consumed (at times even consuming us), presents great brand building opportunities, at a fairly rapid rate.

It’s not only Facebook, silly

Many people tend to be allergic to social media as they get put off by the manner in which people bare their souls in public or by the flippant nature of the medium. They tend to totally avoid being online. Sadly, several of my clients share the same aversion and trepidation.

This reminds me of a concept called ‘reverse mentoring’ that companies like IBM use to a great effect. What basically happens in this is that senior leaders in their fifties get trained by twenty-somethings on how to download videos and keep their LinkedIn posts relevant.

This is simply because young people take to technology the way ducks take to water, whilst many of us older folks can be termed ‘technophobes’. And today, smarter older people are harnessing the power of LinkedIn and Twitter to get recognition and followers — and in a very short time at that.

What will be your sentence?

People who aspire to have a brand leadership must stand for something. Gandhiji stood for non-violence, Abraham Lincoln for abolition of slavery, and Winston Churchill for tenacity in the face of adversity. Business leaders like Ratan Tata, Jack Welch and Richard Branson too stand for strong values. So it is important for you to figure out what your area of expertise is going to be.

Will you be the greatest expert on monetary policy, brand building or cricket statistics? Take your pick, but carve a niche for yourself; be known as an expert in that chosen area and use social media to own that space.

Sounds very simple, doesn’t it? And yet, it calls for a clear strategy and error-free execution, as brand building is in the details.

Here are a few people I follow on social media, who seem to have diverse abilities and skills.

So how do you own the social media space? What are some of the best practices of the social medium?

Don’t shout for attention

If you go to a party and want to get attention, you don’t take your shirt off, do you? You work yourself into groups, make interesting, often self-deprecating conversations and get noticed.

The same thing applies to social media as well. Don’t try to get there too soon. Numbers don’t matter as much quality and substance of the interaction.

Have a point of view

Some of us are talented and interested enough to write blogs, while some of us are not. I must, however, quickly tell you that writing is a bit like Math — the more you apply it, the better you will be.

Another way you can make your presence felt online is by sharing interesting things that you come across online, with your own comment on the same.

You need not necessarily agree with the author all the time, but making an interesting observation about a well-written piece which is brief, establishes your own credentials and confidence on the chosen subject. Contrast this with the days of the yore when all of us built our reputation only by writing articles, books and delivering lectures!

Don’t go into overdrive

I have stopped following some people on twitter as they started to flood my timeline with a number of posts! I am also put off by people who constantly sell themselves or their organisations. No one wants to read what a salesman has to say, right before going to bed.

In my opinion, revealing some aspects of one’s personality breaks the tedium and gives an insight into the character and interests of the person which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Rome was not built in a day

Sometimes, we expect too much too soon. Building brands today is quicker, but can rarely happen overnight unless you are a Kabali! I remember this adage from my working life — “Chase success and money will follow”.

The same principle applies to building your online brand as well. Don’t look for results; just be consistent and results will follow.

And finally, be yourself. Each of us has some unique characteristics and traits. Further them, rather than try being someone you are not.

All the best, and hope to follow you soon!