To be wildly successful in your industry, you need to have a brand, or a name identity. Self-branding means being able to articulate a simple, clear expression of who you are, doing it consistently, and delivering on it again and again, so that when people in Princeton think of purchasing or signing up for a solution that you sell, they think of you. Or when people think of you, they think of being a highly experienced, highly educated professional.

To find out if you need to work on creating a stronger Brand, answer these questions.

  • Can you explain exactly who you are clearly in a couple of sentences, so that people know what’s different, relevant, and special about you?
  • If people were to Google your name, would they find you and discover high-quality information about you and your accomplishments?
  • Can you clearly define your key target markets (who are you trying to reach in your town to be your client – young, upcoming professional – hipsters? High-net worth clients?) and the best way to market yourself to them?
  • Do you have a visual identity that is appealing to your target markets, consistent with what you stand for as a brand, and different from others?

(Is it a hat that you always where, your style of clothes – how does your presence fit the image/brand you are trying to convey)
  • Do you have a personality and a leadership style that are assets and engage others?

If you answered “No” to any of the above questions, you have more work to do to perfect your brand image. Here are seven tips for creating a stronger self-brand.

  • Keep your brand focused. The more specifically you define who you are, the better your chance of selling yourself.
  • Make your brand different. Being like everyone else will stunt your success. Ask yourself: “What’s different, relevant, and special about me?” Look at who you are, and then accentuate your difference.
  • Stand out from EVERYONE else. Non-conformity and non-traditionalism will help you stand out from the pack. Are you involved in the community that you work in? What can you do that is different from your competition?
  • Create a powerful visual identity. Like it or not, you are a package — just like a product on a shelf. Spend time thinking about how to make your image more powerful and distinct, whether it’s by wearing specific clothes, or by providing something special at every connection.
  • Align your self with organizations and causes. You will be defined by the people, projects, causes and organizations with whom you are allied. Smart networking creates branding firepower. Make a list of the top five projects, causes and organizations that would make an impact in your target market of where you work – what can you do to bring your name – your brand- to these organizations?
  • Take charge of your brand.  Try to remember that everything you do at your job reinforces your reputation and your image. If your actions or accomplishments seem out of step with your brand — especially over time — it may be time to revisit, reinvent and update your brand.

When you start thinking of yourself as a brand, you discover how powerful it can be. Rather than being viewed generically as just another employee or business owner, you’ll be someone who stands for something distinct and desirable — a brand. In today’s over-communicated society, the brands that stand for something relevant and build positive perceptions are the ones that succeed.