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Many people think personal branding is only associated with sports stars, celebrities and popular figures but the reality is that you are already a brand whether you know it or not. What you need to do is to be conscious of it and make it work in your best interests. In our present world, the way we are perceived influences the results we get.
Now more than ever, it makes a lot of sense to invest in your personal brand and reap the accruing rewards. The concept of branding appears to be vague to most people who often consider it as the way a product or company is perceived but branding goes beyond perception. Some even consider it to be a concept that is interchangeable with terms like impression or goodwill or reputation but branding is so much more. A look at the Merriam Webster dictionary’s definition of a brand still does not suffice. It defines it as a category of products that are all made by a particular company and all have a particular name. Unless we have a thorough understanding of the two basic concepts on which brands are built, we will not fully grasp the concept of personal branding. These concepts are image and reputation; they are quite different even though they look similar on the surface. As an individual, your image is the perception of others about you or how they see or regard you. On the other hand, your reputation as an individual is what people know about you based on their experiences with your person. Image is what people see from afar unlike reputation which is what they experience when they come in contact with you. Reputation comes from either your first hand or second hand knowledge about an individual. You may be perceived as another person as being accommodating and friendly and when the person interacts with you, he/she may find that to be true. In this case, your reputation matches your image and helps enhance your brand.
Personal brand is a delicate blend of an individual’s image and reputation, whether favourable or not and affects the way others relate with that individual. An ideal situation is when an individual has both a positive image and a positive reputation. When either of them or both of them are negative, then your personal brand needs to be fixed and realigned with your personal and career goals. Aside from being positive or negative, your personal brand is also unique but may bear similarities with those of others. The current president of the United States is known to be controversial and confrontational amongst other attributes that he possesses, that’s his personal brand. As an individual, you should stand out and be known for something. What comes to your mind when you think of Richard Branson? Initiative, courage, simplicity, that’s his personal brand. Whether you are a popular figure or not, you are a brand. Your personal brand is what people feel (image) and know (reputation) about you. You need two main types of resources to build a great personal brand – offline and online resources. In the past, only the former was considered as inputs into your personal brand but the digital age that we live and work in has made the latter more relevant than ever. Typical offline resources include –
Do your best to ensure these six critical aspects of your personal brand are well taken care of and this would require a lot of effort on your part but it would be worth it at the end of the day. The most common online resources include –
Corporate and personal brands are so powerful these days that they often have greater value than material or physical assets. In recent times, relatively new ecommerce and social networking sites are now worth many times the value of brick-and-mortar organisations that have been in existence for decades. It appears to be unfair but that’s the reality now. It is not enough to build a great personal brand without enjoying the benefits that come with it. This implies that we must translate our personal brands into assets; an asset is anything that adds value or generates revenue or other advantageous benefits. These benefits include but are not limited to –
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