Don’t confuse branding with “packaging”. If you’re a tofu burger packaged as an all-beef burger, it’s just not going to work. Packaging preps us for what’s inside. Packaging helps us to quickly sort through options.
The main mistake I see careerists make with branding is they focus too much on the packaging, and not enough time on discerning what’s IN the package. If there is consistency between the two, your brand is much more authentic and credible.
Starting with a thorough self-analysis is great. Ask yourself what you’re good at. The words people use to describe you as a professional. What sorts of problems you solve well. Self-assessment is a huge piece to the branding process.
But don’t stop there. You must, must, must get outside input. Gasp. Yes, I am suggesting that you ask others for their input. You need to know how others perceive you. Gasp. Trust me, the process is way more illuminating than you might think. You’re normal if you’re both a little anxious and excited. Most people crave this type of candid insight about themselves. I’ve done a lot of research on this topic, and the best tool out there is the Reach Personal Branding assessment. (Full disclosure: I am a certified brand strategist with Reach. For what it’s worth – I’ve invested my own money and time in it; it’s that useful.) You can get a limited account at no charge. But if you’re spending the time and effort, get the upgrade to a full account. It’s well worth the charge. I offer a discount on the upgrade for clients.