What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is the territory you occupy in the hearts and minds of your target audience. It is a short phrase in no more than three words that follows a lot of thinking and analysis.
“Personal branding is about building authority that gets people to pay attention to your message and want to share it and recommend it to others.” Mark Traphagen.
Your target audience is an employer if you are seeking a new job or a specific client if you are currently a fee earner in a City law firm.
The importance of personal brands
The digital age in which we now live means that much research and search is done online by employers, clients and consumers using LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Facebook Professional Pages, Instagram etc.
The volume of content shared online by billions of people globally is immense and people’s attention spans are shortening.
Your online digital footprint, at which your personal brand is at the heart, needs to demonstrate what makes you unique and do it quickly and impactfully in a compelling way.
Competition for the best jobs in top City law firms is immense.
Defining your personal brand and building career capital around your personal brand territory online using words, images, videos and other career content is wise.
This approach will help to get you noticed and position you in a strategic and relevant way.
“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Tom Peters, Fast Company.
Creating your personal brand
Here are 10 practical tips for creating your personal brand:
- define your target audience (target employers, recruiters/headhunters or clients)
- analyse your market – who do you want to attract?
- analyse your competitors – solicitors who do what you do
- understand yourself in depth – what makes you unique?
- use a 2x 2 matrix to map your territory vs competitors
- analyse emerging skill, specialisms and legal niche trends
- research key words for your specialism
- create a working draft of personal brand – it removes perfectionism
- get your network to give you feedback
- ask an expert to create your personal brand for you
Barriers to creating a personal brand
- Cynicism – solicitors can be cynical about the concept of a personal brand, perceiving it as ‘gimmicky marketing’. It isn’t.
- Time poverty – time to create your personal brand can be difficult as a busy fee earner – because it requires a lot of deep thinking, analysis and synthesis.
- Copywriting – crafting the words of your personal branding is a specialist skill which takes percolation. The luxury of time is not something that busy fee earners in City law firms have often.
- Short term focus – the rewards of having an excellent personal brand accrue over time. Solicitors are focused on immediate measurable results.
- Reputation anxiety – solicitors worry about their reputation, what others will think and damaging their reputation online.
Barriers to creating a personal brand are normal and can be overcome.
Examples of personal brands
Personal branding is applicable to all sectors, not just the legal profession.
Competition is increasing in all sectors because the internet means that the whole world is one talent market.
Here is a selection of personal brands:
- Career Sherpa
- The Naked Lawyer
- My LoopHole
- The Network Navigator
- Spreadsheet Phil (former chancellor of the exchequer)
- Energising Connector
- The Clean Food Coach
Bringing your personal brand to life
Defining your personal brand is just the beginning. You need to consistently communicate and build it.
To use a metaphor, you first need to create a snowball and then roll it. It will gather pace and get bigger.
Here are eight ways to bring your personal brand to life:
- know the most relevant key words for your specialism
- ask people you trust for feedback about your draft personal brand
- refine your personal brand following feedback
- craft a compelling phrase that sums you up in maximum four words
- commission a high-quality avatar – a professional head/shoulder shot
- select a striking and relevant backdrop image for your LinkedIn profile which expresses your personal brand
- write content online, blogs and articles that build your unique territory
- review your personal brand territory over time as markets change
In the digital age, a personal brand is a ‘must have’ not a ‘nice to have.’ What will your personal brand be?
Rachel Brushfield is the talent liberator and founder of EnergiseLegal, established 1997.
She helps liberate the growth potential of individuals and firms at major career and business crossroads and is a judge in the Marketing and Communications category of the Excellence Awards 2019.
Rachel is the author of two books for the Law Society, Smarter Legal Marketing. Practical Strategies for the Busy Lawyer and Career Management For Lawyers. Practical Strategies for Your Next Chapter.
To claim a 20% discount off either book in our online bookshop, use code xxxx.