As you manage your career, it is crucial for you to control the management of your personal reputation before others define who you are. In this article, I will show you how to build your personal brand positioning statement.
Just like a brand, you have to believe if you do not define your reputation, then you run the risk that others will define you. And you might not like it.
I remember when I was on the job market, one of the most frustrating things I experienced was short-sighted people who attempted to define me. I would hear, “you are a CPG marketer” or “you are a creative marketer”, or “you lack this experience or that industry.”
Even with 15 years of experience, I felt I could easily maneuver around. However, every time I went outside of the comfort zone with a potential employer target, it was frustrating when they spent more effort telling me what I couldn’t do it, rather than focusing on why I could. I felt I was losing control of the conversation.
I eventually took control and defined myself with how I wished to see myself in the future.
In this article, I will show you some of the thinking homework you can do to figure out a winning brand positioning space for you to play in and win with. I borrow the Beloved Brands tools I use to define a brand and put them to test in defining you as a personal brand. I will go back in time to use my own personal brand from 2010 when I was last looking for a job. Along the way, I hope to trigger thoughts that match up to your own experiences you bring.
The elements of your personal brand positioning statement
Four elements make up a brand positioning statement, including the prospective employers who you serve, where you play, where will you win and why consumers should believe you. These are the employer target, workplace definition, your main benefit, and support points.
- Who is your employer or client target? What type of industry, company or hiring manager would be the most motivated by what you offer? Do not just think about who you want, but rather think about who would want you.
- Where will you play? What is the competitive set that defines the space in the market where your brand competes? Positioning is always relative to the others you are competing against.
- Where will you win? What is the main benefit promise you will make to the prospective target to make you stand out as interesting, simple, unique, motivating, and ownable? Do not talk about what you have done in the past (features); instead, talk about what the employer or client gets (functional benefits), and how that employer or client will feel (emotional benefits).
- Why should they believe us? Understand what support points and features you need to back up your main promise. These support points should close any possible doubts, questions, or concerns the employer has after hearing your main promise.
Before you randomly write out a brand positioning statement based on your intuition, I will force you to think deeper to help focus your decisions on the best possible space for your brand to win and own.
Use the personal brand benefits ladder to begin to focus
I borrow this tool from my positioning work with consumers. In this case, the personal brand benefits ladder helps turn your potential features into propsect benefits in the mind of a hiring manager or potential client who might engage you. Stop talking about what you do and start talking about what they get or how it will make them feel. The four steps to building a personal brand benefits ladder:
- Define your ideal employer or client target profile with industry type, level of the hiring manager, stated need states, and employer insights.
- Using your latest resume, look at all your possible features you offer. Focus on those features you believe give you a competitive advantage in the hiring or promotion process.
- Move up to the functional benefits by putting yourself in the shoes of the employer. For each feature on your list, ask, “So, what do I get from that?” Challenge yourself to come up with better benefits by asking the question until you move into a richer zone.
- Then move up to the emotional benefits. Look at each functional benefit and ask, “So, how does that make me feel?” As you did in step 3, keep asking the question until you see a more in-depth emotional space you can win with and own.
To help brand leaders, I have taken nine functional need state zones and expanded the list to over 50 potential functional benefits you can use to build your personal brand around. As you look through the list, gravitate to the functional benefits you think will fit the needs of the potential employer or client, and gravitate to the space where you can do it better than any potential competitors.
Start with the zones and supporting words on the cheat sheet below, and then layer in your creative language based on specific category words or specific consumer words and phrases they use.
I have used Hotspex research methodology to create an emotional cheat sheet with eight emotional benefits zones, that includes optimism, freedom, be noticed, be liked, comfort, be myself, be in control, and knowledge. Use the words within each zone to provide added context.
Benefit cluster brainstorm
Start by looking at the two cheat sheets and narrow down to potential clusters of the functional and emotional benefits. Match what consumers want and what your brand does best. Take three of the zones from each cheat sheet and add 2-3 support words per zone to create a cluster. In this example, I go back to how I felt about my own personal brand when I was last looking for a job before I started my consulting firm.
For each cluster, use the words to inspire a brainstorm of specific personal brand benefit statements that fit you, using the specific personal, industry, or category words. For my own personal brand, I have chosen to build around functional clusters, such as works better, drives results and helps execution, and emotional clusters such as control, knowledge, and optimism.
Once I have a list of statements, I can try to test out whether these statements are potentially motivating to a potential prospect and how do I feel any of these statements could be ownable for me in the long term. Will they care, and can I do it better than anyone else?
This process can help provide clarity when writing out the potential statements I want my brand to stand for.
Final personal brand positioning statement
To read about transforming your positioning statement into a personal brand pitch
Try it out. What is your personal brand positioning statement?
You can help build your marketing skills with our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks
Learn to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand
- You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies.
- To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept.
- For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans.
- To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices.
- When it comes time for marketing analytics, I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.