Updated: 5 days ago
Everyday we make choices about our personal brand and our professional brand, finding the right balance while maintaining a level of professionalism is crucial. If your personal values align with your professional work, incorporating elements of your personal brand can strengthen your professional identity. In some industries, like consulting, entrepreneurship or creative fields integrating aspects of your personal brand is acceptable and can help create a more authentic connection with clients. In most industries, differentiating your professional brand from your personal brand is important because it allows you to maintain a level of professionalism and consistency in your professional interactions. This ensures that your colleagues, clients, and employers see you primarily through the lens of your skills and accomplishments. When deciding how much of your personal brand to share, be mindful of the industry and cultural norms.
Personal Brand versus Professional Brand
A personal brand is a noun and includes all of the passions, roles, and identities that we as humans have in our life. We are perceived differently by ourselves and others when we are in the roles of a friend, daughter, son, sister, brother, partner, mother, father, business person, colleague and so on. These images, identities, reputations, and roles are aspects of our personal brand. Often when we talk about having balance in life, we are referring to balancing our different selves within our personal brand.
As a person in business, we have a choice whether to bring our personal brand into view, or just our professional brand.
A professional brand is an aspect of our personal brand, and it focuses on the roles, actions, image, and reputation that we have as an individual within a profession. This encompasses the various roles we play in our professional lives as a leader, a team player, a confident, a colleague, a coach, or a mentor. In the role of leadership we self-led, we lead up, we lead down and we lead across, each of these leadership roles require different sets of skills, capabilities, experiences, expertise, and human qualities that I like to collectively call superpowers. What are your professional brand's superpowers? This is an important question to ask, and we'll get to that in a bit.
10 reasons to Empower your Professional Brand
Branding is a verb, which means to receive the benefits of professional branding requires implementation of actions.
Often, I get asked, "should I have a professional brand?" My answer is yes.
Here are ten key reasons and benefits for having a professional brand and these are:
1. Enhanced Reputation and Credibility: A well-defined professional brand can establish trust and credibility within your industry or field. This helps others understand your expertise, skills, and what sets you apart.
2. Increased Visibility and Opportunities: A strong professional brand can attract more opportunities, whether it's job offers, speaking engagements, collaborations, or partnerships. This can also lead to increased visibility in your industry or niche.
3. Career Advancement: A strong brand can differentiate you in a competitive job market, potentially leading to career advancement, better job offers, more partnership opportunities and increased demand for your skills.
4. Networking and Relationship Building: A well-crafted professional brand can facilitate networking and relationship-building, enabling you to connect with like-minded individuals, influencers, and potential mentors or collaborators.
5. Influence: A clear personal brand empowers you to effectively communicate your value proposition, strengths, and unique selling points showcasing who you are authentically without appearing overly self-promotional or salesy.
6. Stronger Online Presence: A well-maintained professional brand online (via LinkedIn, video, podcasts, blogs, websites, social media etc.) can lead to a robust digital footprint, making you more discoverable and enhancing your online reputation.
7. Expert and Thought Leadership: A strong personal brand can position you as an expert in your field, enhancing your ability to influence industry trends, contribute to thought leadership, and share insights and knowledge.
8. Personal Development: Building a professional brand often requires self-reflection and defining your values and strengths. This process can lead to personal growth and a better understanding of your own capabilities.
9. Monetization and Entrepreneurial Opportunities: A strong professional brand can open doors for entrepreneurial ventures, from starting a business to creating and selling products or services under your name.
10.Impact and Legacy: A well-established professional brand allows you to make a lasting impact on your industry or community, leaving a positive legacy.
5 Steps to Elevate your Professional Brand
Professional branding is a verb and are the actions we undertake to bring our professional brand to life and to light. The actions we undertake to empower and elevate our professional brand are more than a catchy tagline or developing a great LinkedIn profile.
Like any brand we have to earn trust, connect with others, be visible, and accelerate leadership growth. I am often asked for strategies on ways in which leaders can empower and elevate their own professional brand. Here are five steps to assist you in empowering you to elevate your own professional brand.
1. Know Yourself
Before you can elevate your professional brand, you need to understand who you are, what you stand for, and where you want to go in your career and how you want to position yourself with your industry.
Reflect on your values, strengths, passions, and goals. Ask yourself:
What are my core values and principles?
If I were an animal, what would I be? and why? what are the qualities?
What are my personality traits that make me uniquely me, and what are their strengths and their weaknesses?
What strong skills, superpowers or talents do I possess?
What purpose do I have that I want to pursue professionally?
What professional aspirations do I have?
What value do I provide to others?
When you’re honest with yourself and you encompass who you are professionally into your professional brand, this will automatically be authentic and unique.
You don’t have to play the comparison game to compare yourself with others to try and identify why or how you are unique.
Just be you. You are already unique, and so is your professional brand. Once you are clear on who you are and what you have to contribute, it is time to define your unique value proposition (UVP).
2. Define Your Vision, Mission and Unique Value Proposition
In a sea of professionals, who are you, and what makes you sets you apart?
What is your vision and purpose? What drives you to do what you do every day.
What is your professional brand vision?
what do you want your brand to look like at the height of your career, at the end of your career or post your career. What legacy do you want to leave? How much do you want to influence the industry in which you are in?
Your mission statement encompasses the things that you do daily to strive towards your vision and your purpose. Your mission holds true regardless of who you are employed by, whether it is yourself or someone else.
Identify your purpose
Identify your vision
Clearly state what you do daily striving towards that purpose and vision.
Carefully craft a sentence that describes your purpose, vision and mission taking into account the context of the industry you are in and the people who you serve.
Your unique value proposition (UVP) is a combination of your values, personality, superpowers, skills, experiences, and qualities that make you uniquely valuable to your organisation and industry. To define your UVP:
Identify your values, personality, superpowers, strengths, and expertise.
Consider what value you add, and to who.
Consider the problems you solve or the opportunities you can seize.
Think about the influence and impact you want to make.
Craft you UVP so it resonates with all of the various stakeholders of the industry you are in, as well as the people and the niche you serve.
We use our Brand-in-a-Box Coaching Cards to facilitate sessions with our clients who ask us to help them with knowing themselves better and developing a unique value proposition for their professional brand. We also use the Brand-in-a-Box Coaching Cards to help clients develop their Professional Brand Pillars.
3. Enhance your professional digital visibility
Having brand pillars helps to guide your digital footprint in a clear way. This helps you with demonstrating your Unique Value Proposition, your purpose, mission and your professional brand vision and a clear and concise way. This also helps with the "confusion" that can happen around, "what do I post", or the "icky feeling" that can come with feeling like "I am oversharing".
By having clear guidelines around your professional brand and using brand pillars you can develop clarity around your professional brand, clear objectives, strategies and tactics to empower yourself to elevate your professional brand in a clear and objective way that doesn't make you feel "icky" or like you are "oversharing".
Build brand pillars for your professional brand. Ideally you want three or four brand pillars that relate to your mission and unique value proposition. These pillars can be around your purpose, vision, values, personality, superpowers, strengths, expertise, the value you provide others, or how you solve their problems.
Conduct an online Professional Brand audit: Identify what you are doing well and identify gaps where your professional LinkedIn profile or other professional digital profiles can be strengthened.
Once you have completed your professional brand audit and determined your brand pillars, it is time to create overarching objectives for each brand pillar.
Develop clear objectives of how you plan to leverage each of your brand pillars across digital platforms to build a strong online presence to elevate your professional brand.
Have a clear objective regarding your online presence. Be clear about how you want to position yourself.
Do you want to be perceived as a thought leader in your industry?
Do you want to be perceived as a contributing peer?
What reputation and brand image do you want to build?
What is your online objective? Have a clear objective with measurable results.
Once you determined your objectives and the results you want to have in building an online presence then it is time to optimise your online presence so you can achieve the results you are looking for in building and strengthening your professional brand. Make it count:
Create an OKR (objective with key results) for each online channel.
Objective with key results for LinkedIn
Objective with key results for TikTok
Objective with Key results for YouTube
Objective with key results for Meta channels
Note: only use the channels that make sense for your professional brand. Ideally, choose LinkedIn, and if it make sense one or two other channels.
Develop strategies that align with your objectives and brand pillars. Ideally two to four strategies every 90 days to achieve your objective. The strategies are the "how" I plan to achieve your objectives and key results. These are high-level.
Across the year, review how well you achieved your objectives each 90 days. Conduct another professional brand audit and update your strategies accordingly.
Once a year, develop 4 x 90 day brand communication plans per year. I do 4 page brand communication plans every November for the next 12-months. These four-page plans have objectives, strategies and tactics that align with my brand pillars. Keep your plans simple and achievable because that is how they become action plans.
Develop content tactics: For each of your professional brand channels develop content tactics that align with your brand strategy, your objectives and key results. The tactics are at a lower-level, and include the tactics for each channel, and a content calendar for each channel around your brand pillars, objectives and strategies.
The tactics centre around how you plan to share valuable content related to your field. This can include photos, articles, carousels, videos, or a day in the life of content that showcases your expertise. Develop tactics for each of your strategies, ensuring that the strategies are aligned with your objectives and key results in your 90-day brand communications action plans.
4. Seek Mentorship or guidance
Mentorship can be a game-changer in your professional brand journey. A mentor or a coach can provide guidance, share their experiences, and help you refine your brand. Look for a mentor within your organisation or industry, or a branding specialist who can advise you, coach, and mentor you and empower you through your professional brand enhancement journey. LeadinGrowth offer professional brand coaching and mentoring opportunities for people who are seeking to enhance their professional brand.
Undertake a professional branding program and learn how to enhance your own professional brand. For example, LeadinGrowth offer a Certificate in Professional Branding when you successfully complete their 4-week program. The next program commences in January 2024. There are four programs per year. If January doesn't suit you, then put your name down to receive information and dates about forthcoming Professional Branding Programs. We also have a Professional Branding Masterclass coming up on 24th January 2024. Early bird tickets are available until December 10.
Seek tools to help you to enhance your professional brand. For example, LeadinGrowth have a tool we call Brand-in-a-Box that helps you to:
a) know yourself
b) define your mission and unique proposition
c) build your brand pillars
d) conduct professional brand health checks ensuring that your content is aligned with who you and where you want to go are as a professional person.
e) join ELEVATE - workshops & programs to assist you with elevating and empowering your professional brand in a guided way.
5. Networking and connection building
Effective networking is a cornerstone of professional branding. Be visible. Attend industry and business events, conferences, retreats, and webinars within your own industry and where the people who you serve are located. As part of getting to know yourself, know who you serve so you can align your networking opportunities with both your industry and who you serve. Be seen. Make a contribution. Share generously. Have clear networking objectives as part of your brand communications action plan. Engage in meaningful conversations, build relationships, and contribute positively to your professional community. Be generous with you time and with sharing information, build strong connections, enhance relationships and empower your professional brand.
Ultimately, empower your professional brand so it is synonymous with the value you bring to your industry. Focus on consistently delivering results, exceeding expectations, and making a positive impact. Doing these things will help you to elevate your professional brand.
In summary, empowering and elevating your professional brand as a person in business is a journey with opportunities for introspection, developing brand pillars, objectives, strategies, and tactics to build your online and physical presence that authentically adheres to your values and beliefs and your professional brand.
This is a journey and a valuable investment in your professional growth. A well-crafted professional brand can open doors to exciting opportunities. Remember that authenticity is at the heart of a strong professional brand, so be true to yourself as you shape your professional identity within your industry of choice.
Learn more about how these tools, courses, workshops or our coaching services can empower you to elevate your professional brand click on the relevant links below.