By Richard Wetaya
The idea of personal branding has been gaining traction in recent years.
Many proponents

including wanterprenuers, celebrities and motivational speakers have thrown the word around with abandon, cognizant of its importance in today’s highly competitive world.

Many proponents say that the business of personal branding is, by and large, worthwhile for employees stuck in career ruts.
They also agree that that it is essential for that employee seeking a new lease in their personal and professional life.

“Personal branding is also the way to go for that student who just completed school and is looking to get the right start in life. A personal brand is principally about marketing oneself in the best possible way. It is about how one looks at themselves and how they distance themselves from the competition. To build a personal brand, it is important for one to first understand who they are, what they stand for, their qualities, their beliefs, their strong points and what they are passionate about. It begins with an outlook one develops from within themselves. Increasingly, personal branding is becoming a radical way in which people manage their careers. When one goes about branding themselves the right way, it shapes the way they are viewed by others. Having a personal brand is power. It builds a following, personal confidence and makes one’s career more fulfilled,” Fred Okwalinga, a marketing consultant, explains.

In many work places of today, personal branding is becoming all the rage.
“Personal branding is more or less a business in today’s world. In the work place, where people regularly compete for the best positions, best pay, and best opportunities, you are not selling a tangible product but your talents. In the work place or as you search for a job, you are the head marketer of the brand called you. That brand is built and made strong or weak in the way you conduct yourself, in the way you go about handling your assigned responsibilities or in the way you organise yourself. If you own a business, the bedrock of your brand lies in the signage, websites, blogs, logs, brochures, etc.
That has to be accompanied by stocks in trade such as diligence. Your business brand will also be made stronger by embracing platforms like social media. Social media is the future of almost of every business undertaking, given its multiple business promotion platforms and its direct business to client communication nature,” explains Robert Khisa, a People and Culture Consultant with Johnson-Okumu, Kampala.

Reputational power comes through branding.
“People especially celebrities and public figures know this well. Consider for example if Bebe Cool’s Gagamel group was involved in a fight. What would happen to their brand? Anything unflattering or flattering that celebrities or high profile people do or say wittingly or unwittingly impacts on their brands and on their brand extensions, if they have any,” Okwalinga says.

Personal branding is not for celebrities only however.
Each of us is a brand that can be marketed subjectively, so to speak. As a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. In that way, we can become branded professionals.

Anyone who wishes to be a branded professional must have a personal brand statement.
The personal brand statement should however come after some self examination especially as regards one’s persona, skills and moral values.
“The personal brand statement should essentially sum up who a person is, what they do, what they do it for and what their leading personality strengths are,” Okwalinga says.

Take more control and fine tune your online identity.
“Everybody should know by now that they are being watched constantly on the popular social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumbir and Twitter. You make or break your brand in the way you present yourself on line and in how you communicate with people. Live your personal brand: learn to practice what you preach, and live what you retweet or mind you post,” Khisa says.

Have something attached to you; if you want to be considered a "brand.
“It helps to have a product or service associated with the identity. If you have a fledgling shoe sales business for example, study the competition in your domain; think through their positioning, how they project themselves, what their niche is and how it differs from yours. That will come in handy in getting you more leverage,” Okwalinga explains.

Personal blogs and websites are tailor made platforms to market one’s skills or talents, hence building a brand.
 “You do not have to be famous to have a personal blog or website. Creating a blog on a free online sign up blog site is one of the best ways to build a brand or image. Think of your blog page as a one-stop shop for the public to learn about your skills, undertakings, achievements, employment and personal story,” Khisa says.

Networking with people on a frequent basis is another way to build your brand.
“Networking is the art of connection. It provides an avenue for word of mouth marketing and can act as an effective tool in driving business growth,” Khisa says.

Business cards with your personal website, logo, phone number and email address may be cliché but they are still one of the best professional ways to get through to prospective employers and clients or for them to get through to you, Okwalinga says.

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