In my post Surviving the Future I mentioned the idea of living from your personal genius. Discovering your passions, your talents, exploiting that and intersecting that with what people want. The greatest tool in this quest is your personal brand.
What is a brand? It is the prevailing idea, or feeling associated with a product, company or in this case a person. Branding differentiates you from everyone else in the market. It articulates what you are all about and how that would be of value to other people.
You need to ask the following questions in determining and articulating your personal brand.
1. What is the prevailing major idea of your life?
This is the basis of your brand, the core idea. What you are all about. Steve Pavlina defines his brand as providing personal development for smart people, specifically exploring and distilling knowledge on various parts of life into core principles and ideas. Chris Guillebeau explores unconventional ways of living and solving problems while travelling the world. Jay Z’s personal brand has evolved from street hustler/ganster to hiphop maturity and global business man. Steve Jobs centres around innovation, creativity and coolness. My personal brand? Well my core idea is the intersection of youth and popular culture, design communication and life paradigm shifts. I hope to create things that speak in the language of popular culture effectively changing the way people think and live, creating a better world for humanity.
Your brand can be highly specific or it can be loosely broad. But if it is broad, connect the pieces together under a theme.
2. What channels will you communicate your brand through?
How will you get your message across to your audience? Will you be centred around the internet and cyberspace. Or will your brand expression be predominantly in tangible products, goods and services. This is entirely up to you. We have seen a great proliferation of bloggers who communicate their ideas via the internet – websites, blogs, social networking media, and with the creation of intangible assets like ebooks, seminars, and so on. Others create organisations that provide a service or seek to change the world in some way. Some people design, dance, create music, write poetry, etc. Others build businesses.
3. Who is your audience?
Who will listen to you? What is your target market. Which group of people will receive the most value from what you have to offer. Focus on these people. Do not try to cater to everyone, it is one of the fastest ways to failure in any endeavour. Focus on your right people. Those who are attracted and interested in what you have to offer. Analyse them, interact with them, figure out their needs and fulfil them. For instance, Chris Guillebeau writes for people, artists, creatives, travellers who want to live an unconventional life, profiles them and provides resources and ideas for them. Mark McGuinness speaks to creatives and helps them make a living from their craft.
4. Why should your audience listen to you?
What sets you apart from everyone else, what value do you bring to the table. Why should your audience listen to yo? Why should they come back time and time again?
5. Nurture your audience
Now that you have your audience, and have determined why they should listen to you in the first place, take care of them. Nurture your audience, keep on creating value for them. Provide only those services that will actually be of value to your clan, your tribe, your band of merry men. Give them a reason to be loyal to you.
6. Grow your network
No dream worth pursuing is ever pursued alone. You will need to interact with many other people, within your field and outside of it. Ideas are transferable across niches and categories. We need various skill sets and personalities to create whole functioning systems and products. Connect with people, especially the best in the fields. Get mentors, collaborate, partner with people and learn from one another. With the internet these days, it is easier to connect and work with people from all over the globe.
7. Put the time in
Create the product. You have to put the time in to write the articles, make the art, write the poem, build the organisation. Whatever it is that you bring to the table, you have to create it. Ideas are no substitute for action and tangible products.