Ask someone with a capitalist view on the world to explain to you what a product or a commodity is and they’ll probably tell you that everything IS a product. Yes, even people. But is this true? How does it play out in the real world?
To start with I want to share a quote from my university professor known simply by Mr. Robi. It goes like this: “You consume products not because you think it is cute, or good, or because it’s premium. NO. You consume product because you have a problem.”
That sentence, struck me. Why does it relate to personal branding, you may ask? Well, to start off, there has to be a reason why someone wants to undergo a personal branding process. It could be because you’re a celebrity, a key opinion leader, or maybe simply an Instagram star who wants to get more exposure so that the money river does not stop flowing. Now, if you read between the lines, you could find a similarity to all of the things I just mentioned: people or corporations consume those kinds of people as a service provider.
Let’s look at it this way: corporations have a problem: they can’t seem to sell enough lipstick and their sales—due to rising competitors and the digital marketing trend—have depleted tremendously. They searched and found a girl on YouTube that makes makeup tutorial videos. The channel view itself is amazing and while looking through the girl’s Instagram, she has attracted thousands of followers with her beauty shots. Even on Instagram, this girl actively answers people’s questions regarding beauty and makeup and each time she does, she inherently throws in a brand name or two as a friendly recommendation to her followers. There are also posts of her doing public speaking at a beauty conference. All in all, this girl is a 10/10 as a beauty consultant, even without any degree or official recognition. If you are the marketing of that makeup company, would you reach this girl to advertise your products?
You would probably say yes. But why is that?
Personal branding is an intricate form of brand identity that sometimes does not have to be accompanied with a logo or collateral design, but it is a form of brand design. People, like brands (or vice-versa) have personalities, hopes, and dreams that people relate to to inherently connect with each other. But is that it? So can you just run around in the streets not doing anything and you can be a respected person in your field? No (except if you’re “The Parkour Guy”). So what elements should you look for and build for yourself regarding good personal branding?
- Expertise: now, corporations will only want to use you as an advertising service or endorsements if you are an expert in a related field. A travel agent won’t advertise to a graphic designer if he/she is a couch potato. You have to build expertise over hours and hours of building that persona in your channels (Facebook, IG, YouTube, etc.) so that you will be acknowledge as the leading mind in that field.
- Engagement / Empathy: People see how you treat the people that follows you and if you are able to emotionally connect with them on an empathetic level, then you are a good bet to take if they need your service.
- Consistency: the longer you have been in your expertise has to show through months, if not years of building it block by block.
In the end, personal branding is a form of design. It has to have the correct strategy, the correct brand identity (logo or just simple, good typography should be nice), and most importantly, it has to be consistent towards everything you do. You have to consider yourself as a service provider that is aimed to give solutions to corporations or individuals that needs your help. To say it’s a bust or a must, there’s actually no clear answer since it depends on the industry you’re working. Most days, simply being an all-around good person is already a form of personal branding.