How to build a personal brand people will love to hate

It’s never a good time to be generic in your career or your work, but that has never been more true than now. Why do so many people have such generic resumes, portfolios, and personal brands that blend into the crowd? In this episode, we will define what makes up a brand, understand why a personal brand has so much power, the most common problems in building one, and how to build the foundation of a powerful personal brand that will get your noticed.

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In a continuation of the career discussions, we have been having lately on the show because I have been talking to a lot of people about these things. Today I want to talk about building your personal brand. As people are looking to find better stability in their current job, trying to find new jobs, or just trying to figure out who they are or what they want from their career – this work on your personal brand should be at the center of all of that.

In this episode, we will define what a brand really is, understand why it has so much power, the most common problems in building one, and how to build the foundation of a powerful personal brand.

You can download my archetype deck here

Define “brand”

Let’s start by defining the word “brand” which confuses a lot of people. Your brand will play a big part define your success at work, in your career and in your side projects.

Your brand is not
• a logo
• typeface
• colors
• theme
Because thats a visual language

Your brand is who you are
(brand story)

What you stand
(brand values)

What makes you different from everyone else
(brand differentiators)

The need economy

Let’s talk about what is really going on behind the scenes here which is the upside and downside of your own brand. Having your own brand helps you reshape what I call the need economy.

Like we talked about in the last episode about how important it is to work with a company as equals this is an extension of that conversion. The need economy is the way I have worked to reshape how much I NEED certain aspects of this industry. Showing up as equals in a negotiation is about reshaping how much I NEED them giving me a job and dictating a salary. It about having a brand so I have a voice and a presence that allows me to NEED my company less. If I show up it means something and if I leave it means something. It’s about creating a brand and a network so I can control my future and draw companies to me so I don’t NEED recruiters. It’s about me taking control of my image, my voice, my future, and my power.

Its about balance

The reality is that a lot of people aren’t going to like it when you aren’t dependent on them. It will make you company uncomfortable because they don’t have all the power, recruiters don’t like that you don’t need them and people will start to make a lot of assumptions about you.

People assume I’m egotistical and or people I really respect have said that I make things ‘all about me’ because I have my own brand. They said that without ever taking the time to listen to a talk, a podcast or even talking with me. When you stand up for yourself people often don’t understand it or label it because it is something they haven’t done. It about balancing recognition vs self doubt.

Recognition: understanding and wanting your value and who you are to be recognized (your ego)

Self-doubt: staying open, humble and always keep learning (your imposter syndrome)

The generic problem

Thanks to the pandemic everyone has a book, a Skillshare, and online course, a podcast and a YouTube channel. But people, their brands and their products are too generic. I see this problem so much I have now created a feedback cheat sheet for resume and portfolio reviews because I just give the same feedback over and over again.

Any successful brand creates some emotion. Those who identify with it will love it. Those who don’t will hate it. Either way, it is clear and strong enough to create an emotion. Generic people don’t become successful. Generic brands don’t get a following.

The work ethic problem

People build brands when they need them – which is too late. This means your work ethic will define your success. Work ethic beats talent. You are and always will be an evolving brand proposition you will always need to work on this.

Hated brands win

To stand out and be successful you need to create a brand that is strong enough that those who identify with it will love it and those who don’t will hate it. Your audience has never been everyone. History does not remember well behaved or generic people or brands.

How to deal with those who hate you

I have to acknowledge the big challenge here for all of us which is that having people, not like something you do feels really bad. So how do we deal with this? I don’t care about the people booing from the cheap seats when I am down on the field giving it everything I have. 1″ piece of paper with the names of the people you care the most about.

The foundation

To solve this problem you have to be able to take a step back and think about how to treat yourself like a brand. You have to be able to define why you are different. Your core values, brand voice, image, differentiators, etc.

Why did you get into this business instead of another one?
What are the values that drive you?
What is your personality or style like?
What makes you different?

Ground your brand in the archetypes embedded in our subconscious.

You can download my archetype deck here

Archetypes card sort

Final thought

We often build personal brands that we think are easily palatable to everyone else. We focus on who we think we are supposed to be and betray who we really are.

You are not where you work or went to school. Crisis of trust mostly in ourselves.

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