How To Write Your Personal Brand Statement

Before you write blog posts for the masses, before you apply for those positions, before you even set up your LinkedIn profile there is one thing you should do – craft your very own personal brand statement.

Your bio, elevator pitch and any other descriptive text about you will invariably start out with your personal brand statement.

What is a personal brand statement?

Your statement is 1-2 sentences answering what you are the best at (value), who you serve (audience) and how you do it uniquely (USP). It sums up your unique promise of value. Your personal brand statement is distinctive to you and you alone. You could liken it with a tagline, strapline or even a catchphrase that product brands will have.

The personal brand statement is not a job title. A job title is what others will try to classify you with, what employers and others want you to be to fit you into a corporate setting. You deserve better than that.

It’s also not your personal mission statement, career objectives or even life purpose. These are much more long-term concepts intended to guide you through life and not aimed at marketing you to anybody.

A personal brand statement is memorable, punchy and solution oriented. As opposed to simply saying “John is a boiler man”, why not “John keeps families warm through bespoke heating installations”? To be continued…

Why do you need a personal brand statement?

How many times have you been asked what you do? Do you feel like people really understand what you do or is it merely pleasantries? I bet you can tweak what you say and leave a lasting impression with that person, an impression that might just lead to business one day.

Just being another hairdresser or plumber is not going to allow you to stand out. When you don’t stand out, you will have to compete against everyone else on price which isn’t a great situation to be in. To be successful in today’s economy you have to specialize; you have to choose a topic and master it. Your statement will clarify exactly what you do, how you do it and for whom. By communicating this, you and your target audience will know exactly what you are capable of.

How do you write a personal brand statement?

Start with listing your key career or business attributes on a piece of paper. Once the list is complete, take a good look at it and pick out the ones that make you unique. These will form your unique selling points, or USPs.

Look at your unique values and key attributes and you should be able to develop a 1-2 sentence brand statement, answering these three questions:

• What value you provide (what problem do you solve)
• How you do it uniquely (your USPs)
• Whom you do it for (your target audience)

Remember to be clear on the value, don’t confuse anyone with any fluffy terms that don’t mean anything. Furthermore, what makes you unique in one place may not be unique in another, e.g. big cities will have lots of specialists and experts in certain fields, small towns only one and that makes him or her unique to that location.

Target your audience

Whom are you aiming your services at? A particular industry, geography, age demographic? Try to stay somewhat focused on a sector of the market and don’t spread yourself too thin. The reason personal branding has become critical for business and career success is that nobody wants to buy from the person that does everything for everyone. Look at what target audience would benefit the most from your services and zero in on this.

Stay authentic

When writing a personal brand statement it’s easy to get carried away and putting down what you’d like to be one day. The old “fake it until you make it” approach does carry some merit but don’t overdo it. Never call yourself a guru, ninja, samurai, expert or even thought leader unless you truly are one. Only your audience can determine whether you are an expert and you will know if that is the case. The aim of your statement is to inform and inspire the reader, not to scare them off with fancy titles.

brand-statement

Make it punchy and memorable

Using technical or big words could alienate your target audience. You want a seven year-old to understand and be able to repeat what you do. Whenever you introduce yourself at a networking event, stay punchy and memorable. Ideally you will want that person you were talking with to tell other prospective customers what you do – this will cover a lot of ground, trust me.

Keep it reasonably short

Less is more as they say. Your ability to describe exactly what you do in one sentence says a lot about your introspection and professional focus. In some cases you have to take up two sentence but always aim for one. I will give you a special dispensation to write more if you have done more things in your life than Tim Ferriss.

It ain’t cast in iron

You will soon find that you are going to tinker with your statement after it’s written up. It’s easy to change it but just don’t get carried away and change it every week. On the flipside, some people will never look at it again. Even though it’s time consuming, your personal brand statement should be revised at least once a year to reflect changes and advancements in your professional career. In order to be effective, it needs to stay current.

Example brand statement

Back to our Scottish boiler man, here’s an idea for a statement:

“John keeps families in Edinburgh (target audience) warm (value) through bespoke heating installations using only the most advanced German boilers (unique)”.

This clearly tells you what John does, for whom and gives you an insight into how. I would say the statement is memorable, I for one think of a family keeping warm and snug over Christmas all thanks to the fantastic boiler man John.

Call to action

Finally it’s your turn to start looking at your statement. Don’t put this off, you’ll find that it’s a wonderful marketing tool that you are going to use over and over. Most people haven’t really thought about their statements so you will stand out with an effective one. Over time I would think personal brand statements will be part and parcel of any successful career or business.

Do you have a personal brand statement? What is it?

Related reading: 50 Personal Branding Statement Examples.

How to Manage Brand YOU on LinkedIn [Infographic]

We’ve all had the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” repeated to us constantly while we were growing up. But as much as we hate to admit it, we all make judgments about people we don’t know. They aren’t necessarily negative, but we still assume things based on a person’s appearance and demeanor.

As a professional striving to grow a business, the last thing you want is for people to make a mistaken assumption about who you are. LinkedIn is the one platform where your posts are meant for people to gather information about you professionally, such as what makes you the kind of person they would want to do business with. Perfecting your personal brand on LinkedIn can be simple, as long as you devote a few minutes to it from time to time. [Read more…]

Why Twitter is the Perfect Personal Branding Tool

twitter is just perfectThere are lots of definitions of your personal brand, sometimes I think there are as many as there are personal branding coaches. The definition I like to use is that your personal brand is who you are and what you do. Keeping it simple in other words.

I also think that your personal brand (your true brand), is who you are and what you do at work, on the weekends, at the team building off-site day, with your stamp collecting club and with your kids. Basically, you only have one brand and this is a combination of your professional and personal lives.

When I give talks on social media to different audiences, most people will agree that Facebook is where you hang out with friends and family, you share photos, videos and socialize. So this isn’t really the place for your full personal brand as it doesn’t include your professional self.

LinkedIn is considered the virtual trade show of social networks, a place for professionals to meet and do business. Does this mean your personal brand will be fully represented on LinkedIn? Not really, most users fail to project any sort of personality on LinkedIn and see it more as a place to keep a professional identity.

Enter Twitter – this is where I think your real personal brand shines through. Everything you do on Twitter is out in the open (unless you have specifically locked down your account).

Let me explain.

1. Your bio

This is really the brand that you want to project. It has to be succinct and explain what you do in a couple of lines. Most people will include both job titles as well as what team they support or how proud they are to be a father of two. Then there’s the photo of course, on Twitter you want something that represents your whole brand if that makes sense.

2. The people you follow / that follow you

This demonstrates who you have connected with and whom you get inspiration from. This will typically be a combination of friends, industry leaders, celebrities, news sources and others. Looking at this I’d be able to get a snapshot of your brand, as defined by the people around you.

3. Your content

When I was a child, I wanted to read minds. Now when I have a Twitter account, I can. The fact is that most people love to put content out on Twitter for several reasons, it could be to promote your blog, to show that you read the Harvard Business Review, to just tell people what you had for breakfast. You will be judged by your content on Twitter, ideally you want to put out useful information sprinkled with a smaller dose of personal PR.

4. How you interact

How you interact with other users will say loads about your brand. For instance, do you say ‘thank you’ when you get a blog post retweeted? Do you reciprocate a #followfriday recommendation? Do you answer questions from users with 3 followers? You can learn a lot about someone by looking at how they treat others.

5. How much time you spend on there

If you are in a full-time job, let’s say you are an accountant, you probably don’t want to be tweeting every 5 minutes. If you’re a social media [insert title here], you can get away with it. As Twitter is wide open, a potential client or employer can have a quick look at your feed and they might just think you’re wasting precious time tweeting.

This is why I believe Twitter is the perfect personal branding tool; it is where your social and professional worlds meet. You could argue that Google Plus is another place for this, just not as prolific yet.

Do you use Twitter for personal branding? Please let me know in the comments!

This post was part of a blogathon over at Peter Sterlacci’s excellent blog.

photo by: Wonderlane

The State of Personal Branding in Jolly Old England

The organisers of Personal Branding Day in Italy asked me to talk about how Personal Branding is perceived here in the UK. Here’s roughly what I have to say in this video:

  • I started taking an interest in Personal Branding about 3 years ago. After having done recruitment for many years I realised that some candidates never needed the help of a recruiter – employers and clients were always screaming out for them.
  • I know that it works but the actual concept is still struggling a little bit here in England.
  • Blowing one’s own trumpet is not a British tradition – it’s slightly more stereotypical American
  • With the recession we’re in, people realise they have to look after their brand to get new opportunities
  • The Personal Branding industry in the UK is fragmented, you get style consultants, social media types (like myself), personal development coaches and life coaches
  • Celebrities and CEOs will have Personal PR companies, who do tweeting and blogging on behalf of the individuals
  • There is definitely a realisation that one has to market oneself, whether you want to call it Personal Branding or not

I’d love to hear more about what you think of Personal Branding in the UK and other places so please leave a comment!

photo by: Brett Jordan

Do People Know Where You Live and Where You’re From?

swedish flag indeedDo people know where you live and where you are from? Do you know where I live and where I am from? I am originally from Sweden but moved to London back in 2002 – it’s almost 10 years now.

I do however, still mention that I am Swedish and sometimes even put a Swedish flag up an introduction slide when conducting training – mainly to remove any doubt of me being German, Danish or South African (nothing wrong with those countries of course :-)).

I also mention the fact that I’m Swedish on Twitter and Facebook and I do share Sweden-related stories from time to time on social media. The whole social media thing has muddled the waters a bit. It’s now very easy to pretend to be based in say, Shanghai, but actually working out of Munich. And people tend to look less at who you are, where you are from as opposed to what you are doing and what content you are sharing online. My point here is that it’s easy to get it wrong on social media, something I’ve experienced first hand.

I have recently had a couple of situations where my Swedish angle hasn’t really helped me. Last week I was at a conference and somebody I have known online for a year or two asked me “so you’re in London quite often, do you jet in from Sweden every month?”. No mate, I just get on the tube in the morning…  And the other month at the end of a full day of training recruiters to use social media, one of them asked me “how come you know so much about UK recruitment when you live in Sweden?”. Because I have only ever done recruitment in the UK, 7 years of it in fact!

Until now I’ve seen it as an asset being Swedish, as most people I speak to have positive connotations with the country and its people. But if prospective clients think I’m not based here that can’t be a good thing. I know I wouldn’t buy services from someone flying in and out of the country frequently, I prefer someone who is nearby and that I can see face to face with short notice.
british flag

So what should I do? Tone down the Swedish bit and leave people guessing? Or just be even more clear as in “I’m Swedish-British”, just like someone that’s “Italian-American”? Or should I go full hog and invest in a blonde wig and viking helmet, proclaiming this is then 2nd coming of the Norsemen? As you can tell I could do with your thoughts here…

And have a little think about your own situation, do people ever get your location or origin wrong? If so, what can you do to remove any doubt?

Related: Do You Have Multiple Personal Brands?

photos by: JSolomon & buggolo

Social Media and Personal Branding at JCI London [Slides & Video]

jci london

Malcolm Levene and I gave a taster Personal Branding from the Inside Out seminar for JCI London, at the London Chamber of Commerce. As our workshops are normally full-day and in this instance we only had 90 minutes, we had to focus in on a few bits of content relevant to the audience at JCI.

If you haven’t heard of JCI, it’s is a volunteer network for people in their 20s and 30s. Run by its own members, it is nearly 100 years old and exists in more than 100 countries. Many of those who have ‘graduated’ from JCI have become great leaders, famous alumni are Bill Clinton, John F Kennedy, Kofi Annan and half of the Japanese parliament (Big in Japan in other words).

Both Malcolm and me had a great time and hope to see plenty of JCIers at our Personal Branding workshops in future. Here is a summary of the slides we used for the presentation:

Personal Branding Taster Seminar at JCI London Chamber of Commerce

This is me talking about social media (shot on an iPhone):

Would love to get your feedback, don’t be shy now!

Related: LinkedIn and Personal Branding Presentation at the Nordic Career Forum.