Of the three Cs of personal branding (clarity, consistency and constancy), consistency is the most effective.
Take yourself out of yourself for a minute. Pretend you’re not you. Let’s say you’re someone else – an objective third party – and you’re conducting an evaluation of your personal brand across all the varied platforms and channels upon and through which you operate.
- When you meet people for the first time, what do you talk about?
- If you drove a van, what would be written on its side?
- Are people ever surprised when they meet the ‘real’ human you?
- Is your phone voice different to your normal voice?
- What’s your email ‘voice’ like? Different? Similar? Identical?
- Do all of your social media accounts ‘sound’ and look different?
If you’ve answered “Yes” or “I don’t know” several times, it’s time to talk about personal brand consistency, and how to sustainably achieve it.
Why is this important? It’s important because if your personal brand defines who you are, what you do professionally, your personal life, and the message you project online, it stands to reason that all of these elements should match up. Right? After all, people like to know what to expect from you, it gives them comfort and puts them at ease.
Step 1: Image
This is the easiest one. To help people identify and remember your personal brand and promise, be sure that you have a consistent photo, logo and colour scheme across all your social media accounts, marketing material and promotional content. This will help people associate visual icons or images with your brand.
And, if you’re going to have a corporate identity, get an expert to guide you on what will make you stand out in your industry in terms of colors, styles, icons, etc.
Step 2: Behavior
Match what you say (in writing and verbally) with how you act in real life. Each in-person interaction, whether professional or personal, is similar to a job interview. You’re being evaluated, whether you’re aware of it or not. So ensure that you’re ‘living’ your brand in terms of speech, body language, conduct and conversation.
For example, if you’re able to be outspoken online and yet you speak in a soft, timid voice when you’re in front of a small audience, you may need to re-think your presentation skills, so they match the strength and power of your e-insights.
Step 3: Corporate
Every time you attend a meeting, conference, seminar, talk, networking event or workplace function, be mindful of what others are experiencing about you – especially in the context of what you want others to experience about you.
Are you the person who always asks questions? Do you have value to add? Are you sincere and friendly? Or do you prefer to remain silent and absorb what’s going on? Are you more of a learner than a teacher? Are you more reserved?
Step 4: Digital
To build your personal brand you need to promote it by being (or appearing to be) everywhere. Have a social media presence, create your own website and/or blog and ‘show up’ in places where your expertise might be needed or appreciated.
And once you start, don’t stop! This is a big part of consistency. The moment you start engaging via social media, you cannot allow your brand to go quiet. You also can’t afford to pick and choose. Beware of only being responsive sometimes (when business is quiet, for example) or favoring some channels over others.
Step 5: Local
When putting yourself out there, don’t limit yourself to the online world, target your community as well. Check out small businesses, organisations, societies and groups that may be in need of the services you’re offering or the knowledge you've built.
You've heard of the big fish in the small pond? He’s so much more effective than the teensy-weensy guppy in that expansive blue ocean.
Side note: Interestingly enough, this one also works in reverse: You can extend your local or personal involvements into the online space, for better exposure.
Step 6: Authenticity
Your personal brand should be authentic. This is only possible if it genuinely represents the value you can deliver to those you are serving. Remember: This doesn't mean self-promotion. It’s not hard sell and it’s not pushiness. In fact, self-promotion has nothing to do with personal branding, which is deliberate but subtle.
In essence, this means that you shouldn't bother to fake a personal brand. Or to mimic someone else’s. It simply won’t last. And your audience can sniff it out.