5 Common Mistakes in Personal Branding and How to Avoid Them

“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.” Nikki Giovanni

Personal Branding is the process of creating and maintaining a clear, powerful, compelling image and reputation of self that elicits a predetermined perception of self that advances the attainment of your goals.

It is about cultivating an image and reputation that is as authentic and as unique as your fingerprint. It represents your beliefs, values, your personality, your skills, expertise, and the qualities that make you unique among your peers.

Personal branding is important because whether you like it or not, you already have a personal brand. The world perceives you in a certain way and herds you into certain boxes. So why not control what they think or say about you so that it helps your personal brand? It is also important because it sets you uniquely apart from your peers.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. –Oscar Wilde

Your personal brand plays an important role to your followers as it accords them a path to satisfy their needs and sensibilities, a means to social acceptance, and provides mental shortcuts to consumption decision-making.

It is important that we approach personal branding the right way because of the damage bad branding can cause your brand. Here are 5 major mistakes that many of us make in our personal branding journey and how to avoid them

1. Building a Brand Without a Blueprint

A brand without a plan is a brand on a knife’s edge. A brand strategy helps you to align your brand with your dreams and goals. Building a personal brand without a plan is like constructing a house without a plan. Off course, you will end up with a house but it will be nothing compared to a house built by an architect. A plan also helps you to be able to look back at your brand history and see where you started and where you are today. This way you can see at what points along the way you diverged from your original concept and made changes. By keeping track of your brand development, you can see what worked and what didn’t, and make the necessary adjustments to your concept so that your brand is always growing and improving.

 2. Becoming a Copycat Instead of Being Authentic

One of the worst things you can do to your brand is to be inauthentic. Trying to be someone you are not is literally setting your house on fire. People can tell when you’re trying too hard to brand yourself as something you’re not. And it turns off potential followers, employers, colleagues, and business associates, who don’t want to work with someone who is trying to be something they aren’t.

If you’re trying to brand yourself as an outgoing go-getter when you’re a very shy, reserved person, it’s going to show. People will root it out and your peers will probably see through it as well. If you try to brand yourself in a way that isn’t true to who you are, it will only backfire. Instead of landing you the opportunity you’re going for, it will hurt your chances and leave you with fewer connections and support than you started with.

3. Focusing on Self Instead of Your Audience

While it’s important to be authentic, it’s even more important to be relevant. Relevance is about your follower finding you important to them. In everything that you do, make it about your followers. If your followers see themselves in everything that you do then they will stick more. If you make your brand about you, then you risk coming across as being full of yourself you will become a turnoff.  Remember, people follow you because you meet a need for them. The day you stop meeting that need is the day they leave. So always make it about your followers. Educate and entertain them and they will be around for a long time.

 4. Lack of a Clear Brand Message

Another common mistake is not having a clear, concise message for your brand. A brand message is a key message the brand communicates. A brand message is the cornerstone of a brand. It is the heart and sets the rhythm of your brand. Brands are about a message that: differentiates you from your peer; goes to the heart of the audience and moves them to get involved in the brand and gets them to choose you. A brand message is a reason your audience chooses your brand if it connects with them.

Without a clear message, your follower will be confused and will not know what you stand for and what to expect from your brand.

Your personal brand message will guide everything you do. At best it embodies both personal value and the future of your brand. If you need help ask for it. A professional will surely be life-saving on this issue. You simply can’t get your brand message wrong.  

5. Lack of Consistency in Your Branding

“If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar

The last mistake to avoid is inconsistency. Consistency builds trust. Trust begets loyalty and loyalty brings continuous opportunities. As human beings, we commit to memory what we experience repeatedly. Therefore, your followers must experience your brand consistently so that it achieves top-of-the-mind awareness. Even when your brand has been committed to your followers’ long-term memory, you must continue reinforcing those memories through emotional experiences.

You can’t just produce one great piece of content and decide you’re done and move on. You have to keep producing new, relevant content and you have to keep linking it back to your brand. You need to be consistent in your messaging and in the way you share your content. If you have a podcast, you need to always talk about the same things. You can’t suddenly decide to talk about something else. If you have a website, you need to make sure you’re linking your posts and social media accounts. If you’re inconsistent in your branding, you risk losing the attention of your audience and becoming unnoticeable.

 Conclusion

Personal branding is something that takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. When you have a strong brand, you have an upper hand in pursuit of new opportunities-jobs, clients, promotions and even getting paid more. It also makes it easier to network with other professionals, get referred for jobs, and win new clients. If you make these common mistakes in branding, you’ll be missing out on all these benefits. By avoiding these mistakes and following these tips, you can create a personal brand that makes you stand out and gets you the results you deserve.

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