Leading corporations invest vast amounts of money and human resources to build and maintain their corporate image.
Even though global conglomerates such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and HSBC are already well known in households across the world, they continue to invest in advertising and marketing to maintain their place at the top and remind different stakeholders and the public not only of their products, but also of their corporate image.
Professionals in every sector compete with each other in the global job market. Today, globalisation allows job seekers to look for employment opportunities with companies anywhere in the world, which increases competition.
Companies hire people not just based on their technical skills and professional qualifications, but also on whether candidates are unique enough to stand out from the crowd.
This unique positioning is your ability to market, package and present yourself to impress future employees, and thus increase your chances of success. This uniqueness is known as personal branding, which is a continuing process and can be acquired and improved through training. Simply put, personal branding is about investing and managing yourself, in a similar way to how companies build and market their corporate brands and portfolios.
When it comes to brand image management, companies set and follow strict guidelines to ensure their logo, brand image, products and services are projected consistently in the highest possible standards. The whole process of personal branding involves unearthing your unique value and differentiating yourself from the competition, regardless what position you are in.
Personal branding is a relatively new concept in Hong Kong, the mainland and many countries in Asia compared to the United States and Europe. In Hong Kong and on the mainland, there is an emerging demand for personal branding, which is the next level to professional image management. This entails training programmes organised and offered by companies to their high-flyers, sales professionals, and both senior and junior managers.
These companies recognise the importance and benefits of establishing a strong corporate image through personal branding, and see their staff as the company's ambassadors.
Personal branding is significant for everyone and implies different meanings for different people in a corporate setting.
For entrepreneurs and management level employees, their personal image is closely allied to their company's image. It is common that they exert their personal attributes in the same way that they run their business or manage the company.
For executives, who are the face of their company shown to the outside world, whether they are perceived positively or negatively by their business associates, their clients, the media and the general public, directly affects the market value of the company they work for. On an individual level, it is important that you get noticed and make people remember you in order not to lose opportunities at work or in life.
To start building yourself a strong personal brand, you need to have a clear understanding of yourself - your values, passions and strengths.
According to William Arruda, an expert in personal branding, there are 10 steps people can take to gain a better understanding of themselves and build a strong personal brand. They include taking a personal test; listening to how others introduce or describe you; discovering your strengths; reviewing your yearly performance appraisals for the last few years; asking peers, clients, employees and friends what they think your greatest strengths are; performing your own SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis as they relate to your career goals; creating a questionnaire and soliciting feedback from your clients and managers specific to your brand attributes; building a focus group and putting together your own team of people who help you understand your brand and what it means to them; taking the strong interest inventory, which helps identify your passions; and, finally, working closely with a coach.
This is the first in a series on social etiquette by Rosemarie Yau, founder of MyOwnBrand.com.hk, a communication consultancy specialising in personal branding and professional image management. Next week: how to create a positive first impression to facilitate effective interaction and communication in different business settings.