When we talk about building a personal brand, we typically refer to a person’s online presence and how they are presented on the web. Of course it makes sense that in our Internet-driven age, maintaining a positive online reputation is vital for finding success, be it in dating, your career, or any part of your life. Otherwise, it may become impossible to stand out. That being said, it’s important to consider what your “brand” might look like outside of the technology that dictates our lives. Jeff Bezos has famously claimed that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Along those lines, your offline brand is essentially just your good old-fashioned reputation, based on what people think of you in your in-person interactions with others.
There is a clear connection in building up an online personal brand and making a reputation for yourself in the workplace or out in the world. Personal branding sets up an expectation for others, and when that expectation is not met in some form, people will begin to turn away. But with a cohesive brand that encompasses your online and offline self, people will more willingly give you their time and consideration.
The two key factors in creating a cohesive personal brand are consistency and honesty, and their importance cannot be overstated. When considering the crossover between an online and offline brand, these become even more vital.
Consistency is a trait that will always be at the forefront of branding. It can mean a lot of things — it can refer to the quality of your work, or maintaining a particular focus for your brand, or can even reference the imagery you use. In the case of creating cohesion both online and offline, what it boils down to is ensuring that there are no discrepancies between your online and offline personas.
Personality is a fundamental part of a personal brand: people aren’t just looking at what your skills are, they also want to get a sense of who you are. They want to know if you’re reliable. For instance, in the workplace, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll encounter a co-worker who has looked you up online. And of course, in this situation, any inconsistencies will be easily spotted, and what might have seemed like a harmless fib will ultimately end up hurting your personal brand.
To avoid such issues, it’s important to be as authentic as possible when considering your brand. It’s understandable that you may be hoping to appeal to as many people as possible, whether it’s for work or otherwise. But this doesn’t mean that you should simply follow trends in branding or lying about a certain aspect of yourself just to seem appealing. For example, if you’re more of an introvert, it wouldn’t make sense to brand yourself as a people person.
Certain traits and templates that work for others in personal branding aren’t always going to work for you, which is why honesty is so important when trying to blend your online and offline brands.
Aside from standard best practices such as SEO when online or networking when offline, building a personal brand is something that requires you to put a lot of thought into how you want to present yourself, and making sure that what you are presenting aligns with reality and not just what you think will grab the most attention. My experience with MyLife and as an internet entrepreneur have shown me that personal branding can be hard work, but when you’re honest and up-front in your branding, you can thrive in both the digital and real worlds.