Posted At: June 20, 2013 2:30 P.M.
by Casey Rogers
It is harder than ever for professionals to set themselves and their careers apart from those around them. Success is now measured not only by one’s career accomplishments, but also by one’s personal brand. Because ever-emerging social media drives our society, personal branding is far more complex than it has been in the past.
A few years ago, personal branding was established merely by using ordinary job titles such as “communication specialist” or “realtor.” Society now desires and almost requires something more than a title that can be printed on a business card. One’s personal branding signifies more than a hefty paycheck or accomplishments on a corporate ladder.
Aside from out-shining competitors, this form of branding acts as a way to break free from constraints provoked by employer-designated job titles and descriptions. True influence is reached by packaging yourself in a way that exhibits who you are and what you represent. Successful branding, in my opinion, encompasses far more than anything that can be taught using textbooks in a classroom.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of getting to know University of Alabama alumnae Rebecca Gordon, who has mastered the task of personal branding. Gordon is a woman of many hats — media personality, published cookbook author, Southern lifestyle expert, avid college football fan and more.
Gordon’s wide array of experience and vivacious personality go hand in hand to intrigue, influence and ignite passion from those around her. After 13 years of experience with the Time Inc. brand Southern Living, Gordon has officially launched her very own brand — Buttermilk Lipstick. With the tagline of “quite simply the bee’s knees of everyday living,” the brand has emerged to bring out the ordinary things in life, which, after all, count the most.
“Rebecca is brand establishment in action! She has not only created a niche, but she continues to do the work necessary to develop and extend her brand long term,” said Lorie Tuma, an assistant professor at The University of Alabama. “She understands that developing and extending her brand are necessary to the sustainability of her business, and as a result, I think we can expect to be captivated by her creativity for a very long time!”
Gordon said that it is important to begin the personal branding process by finding your voice and working to craft and perfect it. She shared the following 10 tips for building a brand.
1. Define who you are and what you represent, and identify your consumer.
“Become the expert in your field. Take action and risks,” she said. Gordon stressed remembering that it’s a business and your life’s work; therefore, it’s important to enjoy and feel good about the products or services you provide to consumers, as well as turn a profit.
2. Build a marketable skill set and use it thoughtfully to fill a void in the marketplace.
“Set short-term and long-term goals,” Gordon said, “and work on your brand every day. Fill a void, if necessary, and don’t be afraid to explore the road less traveled because the reward is generally much greater.”
Tuma seconded this advice, saying, “The other thing that is important when establishing your brand is to understand that you don’t stop. The most successful people understand this, and they keep the rest of us on the edge of our seat waiting for the next unique development, product and concept.”
3. Learn to market and sell your point of view.
“Share the benefits with all involved in a thoughtful and meaningful way and let them know how everyone can win in the end,” Gordon said.
“Take the time to build genuine professional relationships by attending seminars in your field and get to know people through social media platforms,” she said. “You cannot build a brand alone.”
She also noted that it takes a network of dedicated professionals to help you at all levels, and she stressed the importance of always reciprocating their helpful efforts.
5. Be transparent.
“You must open yourself up and share the real you with others, especially in this day and age,” she said. After a few short minutes with Gordon, it is very evident that she craves personal connection and that connecting with others on a “real” level comes naturally to her.
“Some days you’ll want someone to throw you a towel because it can feel extremely revealing, but being who you genuinely are around close friends and family is who you should be to the consumer as well — even on an emotional level at times,” Gordon said. “They want to know that you truly care about their well-being. I feel the same way about other brands and products I love.”
6. Become digital savvy.
“Build a website to broadcast your personal platform and keep the content fresh and current,” Gordon said.”Explore avenues you’re unfamiliar with and connect with others who can share their expertise in those areas and offer your skill set in return.”
She also advised, “Lift others up in your field along the way and explore ideas that may be outside of the box. Use video, print, blogging, linking and other social media platforms to broadcast your brand messaging.”
7. Be fluid.
“Even the best laid-out plans don’t come off without a hitch — tweak your path as needed,” Gordon said.
Tuma also noted that “a brand is a living, breathing, revolving concept that is consistently refined.” Gordon lives and breathes her brand, making necessary changes when needed.
8. Embrace mistakes because they will happen.
“You will experience the most beneficial growth from mistakes,” Gordon said. As author Charles Swindoll once said, ”Life is 10% what happens and 90% how we react to it.”
9. Have patience.
“Keep your eye on the prize and don’t give up too soon,” Gordon said.
10. Find your motto and live by it.
Gordon defined her personal motto as “be the change you want to see in the world!”