Power of Personal Branding

One of the most powerful and readily available tools to market your company is personal branding. Actors and actresses learned long ago that publicity designed to create a certain image in the public's mind would lead them to greater success in the entertainment industry. Stars with highly recognized personal brands soon became commercial spokespeople for services and products. Companies quickly recognized that when the public likes and admires the person advocating a product, they are more likely to purchase the product.

Within the past several decades, savvy businessmen and women have created their own celebrity status to help ensure their companies' success. Colonel Sanders made Kentucky Fried Chicken a household name through TV advertisements, as did his protégé Dave Thomas of Wendy's Old Fashion Hamburgers. Lee Iacocca's sincerity boosted Chrysler's sales when nothing else could, and media darling Donald Trump continues to draw investors and buyers to his various real estate ventures.

When it comes to our local community, it makes smart business sense for Birmingham's leaders to utilize personal branding not only to inspire confidence in themselves, but also in the organizations they represent. When we see or hear positive things about leaders at charitable events, in the newspaper, or on television, we are more inclined to support the causes they support or buy the products and services their companies offer. Conversely, when a leader has a negative brand, our view of the organizations they represent is negatively affected.

But you do not have to be a company leader to benefit from developing a personal brand. A positive brand will assist in the advancement of your personal career or the company you lead. No matter whom you are, your brand is created through a combination of the following:

• Reputation
• Appearance
• Personality
• Expertise
• Credentials

Simply put, everything we do that is witnessed by others is a reflection of personal branding. Smart business leaders do not take chances with their personal brand. Instead, they take charge, putting their best foot forward at all times. This means managing their personal and business reputation at networking events, gracefully sharing their achievements in the media and spreading their good news online. It also means making sure their company offers quality products and/or services because a company's performance is a reflection on the leader and all employees.

Leaders must continuously build their personal brands over time. Like a garden that takes persistent sowing, your brand must continually be maintained and nurtured. Be true to yourself and your moral principles. As I have always said, "If you want to be admired, become an admirable person."

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