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  Authentic Personal Branding
  By Dr. Hubert Rampersad
 
In life, as in business, branding is more effective, powerful, and sustainable than marketing and sales and an effective way to eliminate your competitors. It’s about influencing others, by creating a brand identity that associates certain perceptions and feelings with that identity. Branding isn’t just for companies anymore. There is a new trend called Personal Branding. Successful Personal Branding entails managing the perceptions effectively and controlling and influencing how others perceive you and think of you. Having a strong Personal Brand seems to be a very important asset in today’s online, virtual, and individual age. It is becoming increasingly essential and is the key to personal success. It is the positioning strategy behind the world's most successful people, like Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Donald Trump, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. It’s therefore important to be your own brand and to become the CEO of your life.

Everyone has a Personal Brand but most people are not aware of this and do not manage this strategically, consistently, and effectively. You should take control of your brand and the message it sends and affect how others perceive you. This will help you to actively grow and distinguish yourself as an exceptional professional. Most traditional Personal Branding concepts focus mainly on personal marketing, image building, selling, packaging, outward appearances, promoting yourself, and becoming famous, which can turn into an ego trip and let you be perceived as egocentric and selfish. They define Personal Branding from a personal marketing (selling) point of view. Personal Branding is more than just marketing and promoting yourself.

Your Personal Brand should be authentic. Authentic Personal Branding is a journey towards a happier and more successful life. Your Personal Brand should therefore emerge from your search for your identity and meaning in life, and it is about getting very clear on what you want, fixing it in your mind, giving it all your positive energy, doing what you love and develop yourself continuously. Your Personal Brand should always reflect your true character, and should be built on your values, strengths, uniqueness, and genius. If you are branded in this organic, authentic and holistic way your Personal Brand will be strong, clear, complete, and valuable to others. You will also create a life that is fulfilling and you will automatically attract the people and opportunities that are a perfect fit for you. If you are not branded in this unique way, if you don’t deliver according to your brand promise, and if you focus mainly on selling and promoting yourself, you will be perceived egocentric, selfish and a unique jerk, and branding will be cosmetic and a dirty business. Remember (Rampersad, 2008):

no vision + no self-knowledge + no self-learning + no thinking + no mindset change + no integrity + no happiness + no passion + no sharing + no trust + no love
= no authentic Personal Branding

Love is an important element in this Personal Branding equation. It is about loving yourself (self-love), loving others, and loving what you do. You should love yourself in at least equal measure to others or things. This can be found in most religions: “to love others as you love yourself”. Remember what Abraham Maslow said: “We can only respect others when we respect ourselves. We can only give, when we give to ourselves. We can only love, when we love ourselves”. Without knowing who you are (self-knowledge), it’s very difficult to love yourself and others. You need to make a positive emotional connection with yourself and find yourself interesting first, otherwise others you will not make a positive emotional connection with you and will not find you interesting. With an authentic Personal Brand, your strongest characteristics, attributes, and values can separate you from the crowd. Without this, you look just like everyone else.

In this article I introduce an organic, holistic and authentic Personal Branding model which will help you to unlock your potential and build a trusted image of yourself that you want to project in everything you do, which is about your true values, beliefs, dreams, and genius. An effective brand is in harmony with your dreams, life purpose, values, passions, competencies, uniqueness, genius, specializations, characteristics, and things that you love doing. This approach places more emphasis on understanding yourself and the needs of others, meeting those needs while staying true to your values, improving yourself continuously, and realizing growth in life based on this Personal Branding journey. This should be based on your vision, rather than inventing a brand that you would like to be perceived as and to sell this to others. Remember what Oprah Winfrey said:

Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe. ….Hold the highest vision possible for your life and it can come true …. Go for your highest and greatest vision for your life and align your purpose with the flow of your life. …Follow your passion…Sooner or later, your passion is going to win out and nobody can stop you.

An Authentic Personal Branding Model
Building an authentic Personal Brand is an evolutionary and organic process and a journey towards a successful life. I am including below a holistic blueprint and roadmap to help you formulate and implement an authentic Personal Brand identity. This organic model consists of the following four phases (see Figure 1), which are the building blocks of a strong authentic Personal Brand:

1. Define and formulate your Personal Ambition: This phase involves defining and formulating your Personal Ambition in an exciting and persuasive manner and making it visible. Your Personal Ambition is the soul, starting point, core intention and the guiding principles of your Personal Brand. It’s the fuel for your brand and encompasses your personal vision, mission, and key roles, related to four perspectives, that should be in balance: internal, external, knowledge & learning, and financial perspectives (see Figure 2). This will create balance in your brand and in your life. It is about identifying yourself and figuring out what your dreams are, who you are, what you stand for, what makes you unique and special, why you are different than anyone, what your values are, and identifying your genius, incorporating an introduced breathing and silence exercise. You are almost twice as likely to accomplish your brand if you write this down. Formulation is critical to building a strong brand. So take the time to think about your life and to write down your Personal Ambition statement. The breathing and silence exercise that I have introduced in the book will help you to think deeply during this soul searching process, to discover your genius, values and uniqueness, and to fix this in your mind. It will provide you life energy to translate the Personal Ambition into action. Your Personal Ambition makes your Personal Brand Personal and links this to your values.


Figure 1: Authentic Personal Branding Model (© Hubert Rampersad)

2. Define and formulate your Personal Brand: This phase involves defining and formulating an authentic, distinctive, relevant, consistent, concise, meaningful, exciting, inspiring, compelling, enduring, crystal clear, ambitious, persuasive and memorable Personal Brand promise, and use it as the focal point of your behavior and actions. Take the time to write down your Personal Brand statement, which is in harmony with your Personal Ambition, and create a related compelling brand story to promote the brand called You. First of all, perform a personal SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and evaluate yourself after using the breathing and silence exercise. The result of this analysis is the definition of your personal life style. This relates to your personal ambition and brand objectives. Your brand objectives entail what you want your Personal Brand to accomplish. These should also be related to the four mentioned perspectives: internal, external, knowledge & learning, and financial (see Figure 2). You also need to determine your specialization, concentrating on a single core talent. Define your main specific services, your key characteristics your single leading and most powerful attribute. Finally, determine what your audience (domain) is and what their greatest needs are. Your Personal Brand Statement entails the total of your Personal Ambition, brand objectives, specialty, service dominant attribute, and domain. It also includes your Unique Value Proposition. The next step in this second stage is to define your Personal Brand Story (Elevator Pitch), which is the essence of what you want to say about your Personal Brand in order to produce a positive emotional reaction. Finally you should design your Personal Logo, which is a single graphical symbol that represents your Personal Brand.

I have summarized my Personal Ambition, Personal Brand statement, logo, and slogan on a small card and keep this in my pocket every day (see below). I am using this as a compass for my actions and decisions, to keep me focused, to guide me in the right direction, and to help me communicate my brand story effectively.

Personal Ambition & Personal Brand Hubert Rampersad

Personal Vision
To live life completely, honestly, and compassionately and to serve the needs of mankind to the best of my ability. I want to realize this in the following way:

  • Enjoy physical and mental health
  • Passionate and compassionate to inspire others, earn their respect, and always serve out of love
  • Energize innovative organizations where human spirit thrives and which model the best practices in business performance and personal integrity
  • Experience enjoyment in my work by being full of initiative, accepting challenges continuously, and to keep on learning
  • Achieve financial security

Personal Mission
Enjoy the freedom to develop and share knowledge, especially if this can mean something in the life of others.

Personal Key Roles
In order to achieve my vision, the following key roles have top priority:

  • Spouse: Rita is the most important person in my life
  • Father: Guide Rodney and Warren on the road to independence
  • Coach: Love to serve learning individuals and innovative organizations to unlock their potential
  • Student: Learn something new every day and always be a scholar

Personal Brand Statement
Linking Human Capital to Business Success
Passionate and compassionate to inspire learning individuals to unlock their potential and dedicated to energize innovative organizations within the service and manufacturing industry. Using my holistic insight and innovative Total Performance Scorecard principles, I promise to help my customers to realize their financial dreams.

3. Formulate your Personal Balanced Scorecard (PBSC): Personal Ambition and Personal Brand have no value unless you take action to make them a reality. Therefore the emphasis in this stage is developing an integrated and well balanced action plan based on your Personal Ambition and Personal Brand to reach your life and brand objectives and to eliminate any negative elements. It’s about translating your Personal Ambition and Personal Brand into your PBSC (action). Remember: vision without action is hallucination and a Personal Brand without continuous improvement of yourself based on your PBSC is merely cosmetic and will not lead to the sustainable development of your potential and marketing success. Your PBSC entails your personal critical success factors that are related to your Personal Ambition and Brand and the corresponding objectives, performance measures, targets and improvement actions (see Figure 2). It is divided into the four perspectives: internal, external, knowledge & learning, and financial perspectives. Your PBSC translates your Personal Ambition and Personal Brand into manageable and measurable personal objectives, milestones and improvement actions in a holistic and balanced way. Your PBSC is needed to improve and manage yourself continuously based on your Personal Ambition and Brand. It’s an effective tool that you can use to manage and master yourself and your brand. You can use it to develop improvement actions to achieve your objectives, keep track of your progress, record key brand information, explore your life and brand, define new career paths, build network of contacts, quantify and report your key accomplishments, etc. Your Personal Ambition and Personal Brand are related to your heart (emotions) and the right half of your brain. Your PBSC, however, is related to the left half of your brain. With the left half of your brain having mainly an analytical, logical and quantitative function. The right half of your brain has an intuitive, emotional, spiritual, and holistic function. One of the results of applying this holistic and authentic Personal Branding model along with the related introduced tools is the balance of the left and right side of your brain and the balance of your heart and head.

4. Implement and cultivate your Personal Ambition, Personal Brand, and Personal Balanced Scorecard: Personal Ambition, Personal Brand, and the PBSC have no value unless you implement them to make it a reality. Therefore the next step is to implement, maintain, and cultivate your ambition, brand and PBSC effectively. You have to articulate your Personal Brand with love and passion, be committed to change, and improve your perceived value in the marketplace and yourself continuously. In addition, try to build credibility and become an expert in your field. Get the word out through a variety of media channels, do work you love which is consistent with your Personal Brand and values, gain experience in areas of your brand in which you are weak, promote yourself, market your brand frequently and consistently, make conscious choices about the people you associate with, build a strong network, deliver on your brand promise, and in short live according to your brand promise. To guide you in this process I have introduced in my new book a unique learning cycle called the Plan-Deploy-Act-Challenge cycle (PDAC cycle), which should be followed continuously. This is necessary to let your brand awareness grow gradually. To live in accordance with your Personal Ambition, Personal Brand and related PBSC through its implementation using the PDAC cycle results in a journey towards self-awareness, joy, self-esteem, and happiness. Self-esteem is about how you perceive yourself and Personal Branding is about how others perceive you. Once you implement and launch your Personal Brand, remember to continue maintaining it. You need to refine your Personal Brand promise as you go along, figuring out which parts work and which don't, and make adjustments as necessary. You should continually refine your brand promise in the light of new insights, challenges, and experiences. There will always be competing brands ready to fill any gap you leave behind. The more you strengthen, maintain, protecting, and cultivate your brand, the more successful you’ll be. It needs constant updating to reflect the new challenges you take, the lessons you have learned, and the growth of yourself and your brand. Repeat the PDAC cycle over and over again. If you are well branded according this authentic approach you will attract the people and opportunities that are a perfect fit for you and realize your brand and life objectives. The effective combination of all these four tools and phases makes a strong, solid, and trusted authentic Personal Brand. This new model shows you how all Personal Branding elements fit together in a coherent and holistic whole, taking the following into account:

  • Personal Ambition is the soul, starting point, core intention and the guiding principles of the Personal Brand

  • Personal Brand without Personal Ambition is not personal and not authentic

  • Personal Brand and Personal Ambition without Personal Balanced Scorecard is hallucination

  • Personal Brand, Personal Ambition, and Personal Balanced Scorecard without implementing these according to the Plan-Deploy-Act-Challenge cycle is a dirty business

  • Personal Brand, Personal Ambition, Personal Balanced Scorecard, and implementation according to the Plan-Deploy-Act-Challenge cycle is the Personal Brand Manifesto

As we can see from Figure 1, the Personal Branding model consists of four wheels, which are interrelated and need to turn in the right direction in order to get the large Personal Branding wheel moving an evolving in the right direction successfully. The model gives us insight into both the way authentic Personal Branding can be developed effectively and the coherence between its different aspects. After the last phase is complete, the cycle is again followed in order to fine tune the Personal Ambition, Personal Brand, and PBSC with its surroundings on a continuous basis. By doing this you will constantly improve your brand and performance, and thus continuously satisfy yourself and others. Through this approach your customers, friends, colleagues, family and others will be satisfied continuously, and you will be able to make yourself and others happy on an ongoing basis. In the following chapters, each of the phases in the authentic Personal Branding model will be discussed in depth.


Figure 2: Authentic Personal Branding Framework (© Hubert Rampersad)

This proven authentic Personal Branding model entails a systematic and integrated voyage towards self-awareness, happiness, and enduring marketing success. A way of life in conformity with this system is a journey into the inner self, where your genius, values, hopes, dreams and aspirations lie quietly waiting to be discovered. The related practical tools will guide you to implement, maintain, and cultivate your brand effectively, articulate your brand with love and passion, improve your perceived value in the marketplace, become an expert in your field, and build credibility and a solid reputation within your industry. This innovative personal branding approach will allow you to view your life objectively and authentically and provides a roadmap to translate your genius, dreams and aspirations into manageable and measurable milestones and improvement actions.

This holistic Personal Branding framework will help you to create a brand that builds a trusted image of yourself and will help you enrich your relationships with others, master yourself, unlock your potential, and develop self-esteem. By aligning your Personal Brand with yourself you will create a stable basis for your trustworthiness, credibility, and personal charisma. Who you really are, what you care about, and were your passions lie should come out in your brand, and you should act and behave accordingly (you should be yourself) to build trust. Trust will be built faster when others believe you are real and when they witness you being true to your beliefs and aligned with who you really are. You will build trust when your values connect to your attitudes and actions and when you will be true to yourself. The result of this brand building process is a Personal Brand identity that is not a not fake, not cosmetic, not an ego trip, not selfish, not focused on just promoting yourself, and not a dirty business.

This new approach has been proven in practice to produce sustainable results, not only for individuals but also for companies. In my new book I also introduce an authentic Company Branding model, which is similar to the authentic Personal Branding model, and which provides a new blueprint for formulating, implementing, and cultivating a sustainable, powerful, and authentic Company Brand. By aligning and synchronizing employee’s authentic Personal Brand with their Company Brand you can realize the ‘best fit’ between employee and company. It’s about aligning themselves with their company, which has an impact on the organizational bonding of employees. This system offers an effective tool to energize them and to give them the proud feeling that they count, that they are appreciated as human beings and that they make a useful and valuable contribution to the company. Employees are stimulated in this way to commit and focus on those activities which create value for clients. This approach will create a highly engaged and happy workforce and will build a strong foundation of peace and stability upon which creativity and growth can flourish, and life within the company will become a more harmonious experience. This alignment process is an opportunity to create warmth, pleasure, passion, heartfelt commitment, self-direction within the company, and motivation, which is often missed. Identification with the Company Ambition and Brand is the most important motive for employees to dedicate themselves actively to the company objectives and to maximize their potential. Doing work you love, related to your Personal and Company Brand that is interesting, exciting and provides learning opportunities has become a key performance driver. This book will guide you on this journey.

In my new book each of the phases in the authentic Personal Branding model have been discussed in depth and illustrated with many examples and cases.

_______________________
Dr. Hubert Rampersad is president of TPS International LLC (Florida, USA). This article is based on his new book “Effective Personal and Company Brand Management; A New Blueprint for Powerful and Authentic Personal and Company Branding” (Information Age Publishing Inc., 2008, USA).

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