Welcome to Part 4 of my five-part series on branding! If you’re coming to this for the first time, and you think personal branding is a capitulation to an oppressive capitalist system, please read this. If we’re cool, then please go on to read Part 2 and Part 3 before you get started here.
So by now, you’ve gone through a couple of exercises to identify the narratives that create a picture of who you are. These are most likely not complete narratives, and that’s fine. Personal branding isn’t about revealing every little aspect of who you are. That’s something you can reserve for people you trust. Instead, consider personal branding as a way for you to manage how much people know about you and therefore protect both your privacy and preserve your sense of self.
In this exercise, we’re going to look at how to begin the process of using the narratives you’ve identified as part of personal branding to create value, but before we continue, I’d like to talk about what value is in this context.
I want to stress that “value” is not the same as “price”. Think of those old Mastercard commercials where they listed out things like, “New shoes: $250, new dress: $300, new hairstyle: $150, feeling like a queen: priceless.” The products or services you offer are the things that have price tags, but your value is that thing that makes it priceless or worthwhile. Value is the thing that makes people like buying your products or your services, it’s the thing that YOU have as a person that no one else does, and it’s the thing that your personal branding presents to others.
I should also add that this is something that should be authentic and sincere. You can’t fake your value (at least not for a sustained amount of time). Some people’s value might be their access to certain people, some people’s value might be their ability to make people feel reassured and hopeful, some people’s value might be in their ability to harness rage (personally, I have misgivings about this kind of value but clearly, some people thrive with it).
Using A as an example again, I’m going to show you how to use narratives to create your own value. From A’s strengths and failures, we see that her narratives are:
– she doesn’t mind sacrificing her comfort (and even physical well-being) if she’s doing something she believes in
– she is genuinely interested in making connections with people and learning from them
– she has a curiosity about new ideas and solutions to things
– she encourages people to maximize their potential and have new, interesting experiences
So as a food writer, what value does A provide to publications? In fact, the answer is something that she was already sort of doing without realizing it. The articles that A enjoyed writing most were ones that had to do with innovations in food and food technology, as well as interviews with chefs and eateries who were pushing boundaries, whether because they found a way to serve good, wholesome food in a food desert or because they were creating unique dining experiences. A’s value lies in her ability to not only doggedly search out these innovations and people but to also communicate her enthusiasm about these things to the rest of us. A’s brand is also as the writer who identifies trends and disruptions in the food and beverage industry well in advance because she’s got such a keen eye and ear for what pioneers are doing.
When you look at your narratives, figure what the value you give to others is, and in the final instalment of this branding series, I’m going to look at a couple of ways that you can make use of this value and your personal branding.
And here’s the final exercise!