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Seven Steps to Personal Branding

In talking to my friends, associates and random strangers, I've noticed that while many seem intrigued by the concept of Personal Branding, the most popular reaction after hearing about it is an intense need to lay down and take a nap. Branding seems so...overwhelming. So comprehensive and involved and faintly worrisome. After all, what if I choose the wrong brand? What if I can't keep it going? What if I choose a brand that dooms me to immortal mediocrity??

Fortunately, I've got an answer for that.

Putting aside the fact that you can't unconsciously choose the wrong brand -- you can willfully choose it, but that's another story -- you CAN begin the branding process without signing the Branding Scroll of Power in your own blood.

There is just the slightest bit of prep work, but it will take less time than completing a Cosmo quiz, I promise.

The Self-Quiz:

Name a favorite physical feature about yourself that is generally on display to the public. (Think eyes or smile, vs. tattoo on your inner thigh)

Name a favorite positive quality or characteristic about yourself.

Name a treasured dream or aspiration?a major goal you hope to attain.

Name a least-favorite quality or characteristic about yourself.

Whew! That's it?and there's no scoring involved. But with these answers, you can begin following my Seven Step Plan for Practical Branding. These Seven Steps can be taken on a daily basis?and there's no penalty for missing a day. However, if you make the Seven Steps a daily practice, don't be surprised if you find yourself moving closer and closer to your right Personal Brand.

The Seven Step Plan for Practical Branding

Step One: Give yourself a Prep Talk?

When you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and say I would like to thank the Academy (or your mother, or your fellow revolutionaries) for helping me to achieve?? and then list your answer to number 3. This may seem silly, but say it out loud. Tell your reflection how proud and humbled you are by achieving this very important dream of yours. The only reason to have a Personal Brand is to help you achieve your dreams, so by expressing your thanks for having achieved your goals, you are unconsciously putting your Brand to work for you (before you've even decided exactly what your Personal Brand is.)

Step Two: Dress for Success

Keeping in mind your answers to questions 1, 2 and 3, get ready for your day mindfully. If you love your blue eyes and your generally sunny disposition and your dream is to be a TV newscaster? dress in a way that complements your eyes, makes you feel happy and that would also look perfect on the 5 o'clock news. Dress for the work you have to do, of course, but add the little touches that remind you of your dream. For example, even if you're shoveling mulch for the day, you can wear a camera-ready smile.

Step Three: Act As If?

Focus on questions 2 and 3 here as you venture out into your day. Think How would I act if I was living the life I envisioned with my answer to question number 3? Would I bounce down the street happily? Would I smile graciously but calmly?? However you would act after having successfully achieved your dream?act that way today. Even if for just a few minutes at a time. For a hint, consider your answer to question number 2. Often your favorite positive characteristic or quality will form the basis of your Personal Brand.

Step Four: Talk As If?

In your communications with others, speak as if you've already achieved your dream and as if you are exemplifying your favorite positive characteristic. Again, this isn't always easy, especially when you are talking to a toddler, are stuck in traffic or are enduring a mind-numbing staff meeting. But focus on it a few minutes every day to start, and gradually expand the time until you conduct most of your conversations from the perspective of someone who is expressing your favorite positive quality, and who has achieved your major dream or goal.

Step Five: Do One Turnaround Task?

I know you were wondering when we would get to your answer for question number 4. Well, here it is. Keeping in mind your response to question number 4, do one task?even a very tiny task?that demonstrates the opposite characteristic to what you named in answer number 4. So if you dislike the fact that you're messy?straighten up a counter. If you dislike the fact you gossip?forego the opportunity to dish (unless it's to me) just once during the day. If you think you are too negative?do one consciously positive act, no matter how small. This small discipline will help you weed out the actions that go against your ideal Personal Brand, even if you're not sure precisely what your Brand is at this point.

Step Six: Do One Shout-Out-To-The-Universe Task?

This takes us back to question number 3. If your goal is to be a New York Times bestselling author, perform one task?whether it's writing a page of your book, editing your manuscript for fifteen minutes, or brainstorming a new story idea?with the specific intention that this will help you along your path of achieving your dream. If you want to do more than one task a day, you can? but do something every day. This discipline will help you focus on the work or actions that will support your eventual Personal Brand.

Step Seven: Roll the Tape

At the end of each day, consider the steps you've taken and spend some time thinking about your Personal Brand. What felt right about your look, your attitude, and your actions today? How did pursuing your goals feel? Pay special attention to your answers. You will find that your Personal Brand emerges from the actions and attitudes that feel the most right? to you in a positive, uplifting way.

Again, don't worry about having your Personal Brand whittled down to a perfect two-word phrase and accompanying slogan by Close of Business today. Your Personal Brand is first and foremost about helping you achieve your dreams. Have fun with the process and of course, if you have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to email me.

About Jenn Stark

Jenn Stark

Jenn Stark brings a practical, accessible approach to Personal Branding to help authors at every level present themselves for maximum impact. A vice president of marketing and communications with fourteen years’ experience and a published freelance business writer, Jenn now serves as president of the Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America, and has also served as the chapter’s publicity director, promoting chapter and author events.

She is an invited speaker and instructor on Personal Branding and public relations topics, and has worked with several authors one-on-one to help develop their Personal Brands and publicity materials. Her articles on Personal Branding have been featured in the newsletters and online loops of 29 writing chapters in the U.S. and Canada.

She can be reached at jenn@knowyourbrand.com