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Authentic personal branding: most buying decisions are based on trust, confidence, and emotions people have related to a product, service, or person. Branding is more important than marketing and sales. Branding is influencing, by creating a brand identity that associates certain perceptions and feelings with that identity. To be successful in life, you need a personal brand to sell yourself.

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A BRAND is the expectations, image, and perceptions it creates in the minds of others, when they see or hear a name, product or logo. Microsoft, Nike, Toyota, Volvo, and Coke tell us how they want us to perceive their products. These brands don't communicate about what they are, but about what they want our perceptions and expectations of their products to be.

Branding can be defined as a promise that the product or service is better than competing products, a promise that must be delivered to be successful. For example, Volvo is differentiated from other car companies by its promise of safety, and security and IBM stands for dependability.

Branding isn't just for products, services, and companies any more. There is a new trend called personal branding. Personal branding is essential to career development and is an effective career tool because it helps define who you are, what do you stand for, and what makes you unique, special, and different. Personal branding is also essential to business development. People want to do business with people they know or with whom they feel some sort of connection. If you are a familiar and consistent presence, they will have the sense that they know you and are more receptive to doing business with you.

Traditional personal branding works in the same way as company branding; communicating values, personality, and ability to its audience to produce a positive emotional response. You can shape the market's perception of your personal brand simply by defining your unique strengths, values, and personality, sharing it with others in an exciting, persuasive manner, and cultivating your brand continuously. It's something that you can develop and manage, which is essential for future employability and success.

Everyone should take the responsibility to learn, improve, build up their skills and be a strong brand. It's time to make an effort to discover your genius and authentic dream, imagining and developing yourself as a powerful, consistent, and memorable personal brand. It was branding guru Tom Peters who launched the personal branding movement with an essay published in Fast Company in 1997 under the title "The Brand Called You".

He wrote: "Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are the CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc.... To be in business today, our most important job is to be the head marketer for the brand called You.... You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand.... You need to think of yourself differently. You're not an employee, you don't belong to any company for life, you're not defined by your job title and you're not confined by your job description.... Being CEO of Me Inc requires you to grow yourself, to promote yourself, to get the market to reward yourself".

Your personal brand is a critical asset in today's online, virtual, and individual age. Having a good professional reputation is the key to success. Personal branding is becoming increasingly essential to personal success. It is the strategy behind the world's most successful people, like Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Donald Trump, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. It's therefore important to be your own brand in order to be successful in life.

The image of your brand is a perception held in someone else's mind. Successful personal branding also entails managing this perception effectively. Your personal brand is the expectations, image, and perceptions it creates in the minds of others, when they see or hear your name.

Traditional personal branding concepts focus mainly on personal marketing, by building a name for yourself, showing what sets you apart from others, and describing the related added value. I focus on sustainable authentic personal branding in a holistic way; on a trusted image of yourself that you want to project in everything you do, which is about your true values, beliefs, dream, and genius, combined with powerful tools to deliver peak performance and to create a stable basis for trustworthiness, credibility, and personal charisma.

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The underlying assumption is that each of us has unique gifts and a distinct purpose and dream in life. By connecting these gifts, purpose, and dreams, we open ourselves to greater success in life. The authentic personal branding concept is durable and less cosmetic than current methods. It places more emphasis on personal development, growth in life and empowerment, and focuses on the human side of branding. Traditional personal branding approaches can turn into an ego trip.

Authentic Personal Branding Model

The Authentic Personal Branding model consists of four phases (see Figure 1).

* Define and Formulate your Personal Ambition.

This phase involves defining and formulating your Personal Ambition in an exciting and persuasive manner and making it visible. Your Personal Ambition encompasses your personal vision, mission, and key roles, related to four perspectives, which should be in balance: internal, external, knowledge and learning, and financial perspectives.

This will create balance in your life. It is about identifying yourself and figuring out what your dream is, who you are, what you stand for, what makes you unique and special, why you are different than anyone, and identifying your genius, incorporating an introduced breathing and silence exercise. You are almost twice as likely to accomplish your brand if you write this down. Formulation is critical to building a strong brand. So take the time to think about your life and to write down your Personal Ambition statement.

* Define and Formulate your Personal Brand.

This phase involves defining and formulating your Personal Brand in an exciting and persuasive manner and making it visible. Take the time to write down your Personal Brand statement, which is related to your Personal Ambition, and create a related compelling brand story to promote the brand called You. First, you should perform a personal SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and evaluate yourself based on this. The result of this analysis is the definition of your personal life style. This relates to your personal ambition and brand objectives. Your brand objectives entail what you want your Personal Brand to accomplish.

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These should also be related to the four mentioned perspectives: internal, external, knowledge and learning, and finance. You also need to know your audience (domain), their greatest needs, determine your specialisation, concentrate on a single core talent, what your main specific services are, what your key characteristics are, and what your single leading and most powerful attribute is. Your Personal Brand Statement entails the total of your Personal Ambition, domain, specialty, service and dominant attribute. It includes your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The next step is to define your Personal Brand Story (Elevator pitch), which is the essence of what you want to say about your Personal Brand in order to produce a positive emotional reaction. Finally, you should design your Personal Logo, which is a single graphical symbol that represents your personal brand.

* Formulate your Personal Balanced Scorecard (PBSC). The emphasis in this stage is developing an action plan based on your Personal Ambition and Personal Brand to reach your life and brand objectives and to eliminate any negative elements of your ambition and brand. It's about translating your Personal Ambition and Personal Brand into your PBSC. Vision without action is hallucination and a personal brand without continuously improvement of yourself based on your PBSC is a waste of time, and will not lead to sustainable development of your potential and marketing success.

Your PBSC entails the related personal critical success factors, objectives, performance measures, targets, and improvement actions. It's divided into four perspectives: internal, external, knowledge and learning, and financial perspectives. Your PBSC translates your dream, hopes, aspirations, and values into manageable and measurable personal objectives, milestones, and improvement actions in a balanced way. Your PBSC is needed to improve and manage yourself continuously based on your Personal Ambition and Brand. It's an effective tool that you can use to manage yourself and your brand, by developing improvement actions to achieve your objectives, keeping track of your progress of these actions, recording key brand information, exploring your life and brand, defining new career paths and building network of contacts, and quantify and report your key accomplishments.

* Implement and Cultivate your Personal Ambition, Personal Brand, and PBSC. The next step is to implement and cultivate your ambition, brand, and PBSC effectively in order to be successful in life. You have to articulate your personal brand with love and passion, be committed to change, improve your perceived value in the market continuously, become an expert in your field, and build credibility based on this, get the word out through a variety of media channels, build a solid reputation within your industry, do work you love, gain experience in areas of your brand in which you are weak, promote yourself, market your brand frequently, make conscious choices about the people you associate with, build a strong network, deliver on your brand promise, and live according to your brand promise.

To guide you in this process I introduce a unique learning cycle, the Plan-Deploy-Act-Challenge cycle (PDAC cycle), which should be followed continuously. This is necessary to let your brand awareness grow gradually and to become successful in life. To live in accordance with your Personal Ambition, Personal Brand, and related PBSC through its implementation using the PDAC cycle results in a journey towards self-awareness, happiness, and marketing success.

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Dr Hubert Rampersad is president of TPS International Inc. this article is based on his book The Personal Balanced Scorecard; The Way to Individual Happiness, Personal Integrity and Organizational Effectiveness and his forthcoming book Effective Personal and Company Brand Management; A New Blueprint for Powerful and Authentic Personal and Company Branding. (Information Age Publishing Inc).
COPYRIGHT 2008 Singapore Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rampersad, Hubert
Publication:Today's Manager
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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