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Building a strong personal brand requires moving up the personal branding pyramid in sequential steps, ultimately arriving at a successful and completely congruent brand. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, satisfaction of each step enables you to move to the next. It all starts with a strong foundation and ends up with a brand that’s clearly, consistency and constantly visible to those who will help you expand your success.

Foundation
Just as towering skyscrapers are built on unshakable foundations, strong personal brands are built on a bedrock of good health and mental well-being. This gives you the energy you need to grow your brand tall so that you stand head and shoulders above your peers or competitors.

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One essential to success is that your desire be an all-obsessing one, your thoughts and aims be coordinated, and your energy be concentrated and applied without letup. /Claude M. Bristol
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Having a strong brand foundation is really the table stakes that gets you into the game. It means being in good health and having your mind in a place that allows you to creatively build and nurture your brand. When your have met these needs, you have a solid footing on which you can forge a winning personal brand.

> get over 350 witty tips for increasing your health and well-being

Your brand foundation requires some initial work and then some continuous maintenance to ensure that it remains solid and available to support your brand building activities. With a strong brand foundation in place, you can move onto the first phase of the Reach Personal Branding Process, Extract.


Phase I. Extract – Brand Discovery

Aspiration
You have to know your goals to build your brand. Your goals give your brand direction. Yogi Berra once said “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.”  And that couldn’t be truer. All of the strongest brands in the world have a good idea of where they want their careers or businesses to be. You must be just as clear with your professional objectives.

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I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay. /Madonna
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> get some exercises to help you identify and document your goals

Differentiation
Accentuate the trivial. Flaunt your quirks. Use what makes you unique to stand out. Branding is all about differentiation.  But in order to express your differentiation, you need to be acutely aware of three things: yourself, your target audience and your competitors or peers.

Know Yourself
Before you can express your differentiation, you need to know who you are and what you offer. In the branding process, this requires a lot of introspection. Strong brands use their values, passions and strengths to stand out.

> unearth your brand – your unique promise of value

In addition to the introspection, you need to understand how you are perceived externally. After all, your brand is really held in the hearts and minds of those around you. By knowing what those around you think, you can validate what you believe is your unique promise of value. Remember, what makes you unique, makes you successful.

> get the dirt on how you are really perceived by those around you

Know Your Target Audience
Having a clear focus about your unique talents and goals is critical to understanding and building your brand; but you need to know who it is who really needs to know about you so that you can achieve your goals. Focusing on the world at large would exhaust your resources. Focusing on your target audience will ensure that you concentrate all your brand building efforts on those who will help you expand your success.

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Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets. /Nido Qubein
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> learn how to define your target audience

Know Your Competitors or Peers
Strong brands are not built in a vacuum. You can not distinguish yourself from your peers without knowing who they are. Understanding as much as you can about your peers or competitors will help you identify your unique talents that you can express to your target audience.

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I've come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that's as unique as a fingerprint - and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you. /Oprah Winfrey
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Once you know yourself, your target audience and your peers, you can make a plan to set yourself apart. Remember my mantra, differentiate or disappear.

> learn more about the Extract Phase of the Reach Personal Branding Process

Phase II. Express - Brand Communication

Visibility
Your target audience needs to know who you are and what you stand for; you must always be visible and available to them.

If you are highly differentiated but that differentiation is invisible to your target audience, you will not achieve your goals. Visibility requires building a communications plan that keeps you top of mind with your target audience. Strong brands are always in view, they don’t go into hiding. Just as the world’s strongest corporate brands build annual communications plans, you, too, must create a plan to remain conspicuous, relevant and compelling to your target.

Visibility also requires that you master the three C’s of branding: clarity, consistency and constancy. Once your brand can boast these three C’s, you will ensure that you are noticed and understood by those who’ll help you succeed.

> get more info about the Express Phase of the Reach Personal Branding Process

Phase III. Exude – Brand Environment

Connection
Having a strong personal brand requires being connected to a network of resources for mutual development and growth.

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You have to develop a Rolodex obsession, building and deliberately managing an ever-growing network of professional contacts. /Tom Peters
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We achieve our greatest success through our relationships with others.  That's why it’s critical to build and continuously cultivate your professional network. Your network extends your brand for you. You’ll accomplish a lot more if you avoid the lone ranger syndrome.

> learn ten ways to build and nurture your network

Congruence
The final step in progressing up the personal branding pyramid is congruence.  This occurs when all aspects of your brand are working in harmony to drive value for your career or business. It is the pinnacle of personal branding. During this phase you ensure that everything in your brand environment - everything that surrounds you - sends the same on brand message.

> learn more about the Exude Phase of the Reach Personal Branding Process

Building a thriving brand requires a steady climb up the personal branding pyramid. As you satisfy the requirements of each step, you can move onto higher order branding activities that will greatly enhance your ability to achieve your personal and professional goals.

So how strong is your personal brand? Take the new automated personal branding quiz and find out where your brand stands right now.

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