Whether you’re launching a business or embarking on the next chapter in your career, you’ll want to think about branding. It’s become essential, especially in the era of the Internet, social media, and the 24/7 news cycle. To be sure, you’ll find it tough to achieve genuine success (or build a company) without an understanding of what drives and compels you at the most microscopic level. Case in point: Jason Hennessey, CEO of Hennessey Digital.
People know what to expect from Jason Hennessey. How? He is living his personal brand and has been for years. In fact, as an entrepreneur, he has used his personal brand as a springboard for his company’s brand. It gave him a North Star to follow during the agency’s formative years. And even now, the Hennessey Digital team remains guided by principles based on his personal brand.
Personal Brand Advice from Jason Hennessey
What’s the best way to forge a solid personal brand that differentiates you from the rest of the pack? Below are some pieces of advice from Jason that will help you flesh out your brand.
1. Say it.
You need a branding statement before you can do anything else with your personal brand. This is where the rubber meets the road. Grab a pen (or open a doc) and start jotting everything down that you believe in. Be honest. Don’t write what you think everyone else wants your personal brand to be. Bare your soul.
When you have some ideas on paper (or in digital format), pull everything together into a branding statement, paragraph, or maybe your own “user manual”. Then, take the bold step of asking someone you trust to read what you’ve written. Find out if your first draft sounds like you—or if it just sounds like the person you believe you’re supposed to be. If needed, go back to the drawing board. It’s essential to get your personal branding statement right before moving on.
2. Live it.
Once you have your statement nailed down, you can use it as a lodestar. For instance, one of Jason’s childhood dreams was to own a Lamborghini. Jason Hennessey says, “The desire to be able to purchase a high-end sports car became part of my brand. I knew that if I wanted a Lamborghini, I would need to work harder, smarter and more creatively than everyone else.”
Is it any wonder that his personal brand revolves around being the most driven person in any room? If he’s not pushing himself toward new challenges, he’s not living up to his brand.
Of course, there’s a caveat here: Look before you leap. Before you take any major actions, be sure to measure those moves against your personal branding declaration. This helps you avoid doing anything that you might regret later. If what you’re about to do doesn’t fit with your personal brand, proceed with caution. You could be making a big mistake.
3. Share it.
Knowing your personal brand is critical. But it doesn’t become as influential as it could until you start sharing it with others. You can share your personal branding in a variety of ways, such as on your social media pages or in thought leader articles. You may even want to write a book about it or start a podcast devoted to one aspect of your brand. Don’t forget that speaking at conferences and other events gives you the perfect platform to talk about your brand.
The more you share, the more people will hear about your brand and perhaps become intrigued. You could wind up influencing others to construct their own brands, or to buy into yours. Or, you might end up expanding your network to include more people who appreciate your brand—and want to help your mission blossom.
4. Measure it.
Jason is a data person, he likes seeing numbers because they don’t lie. But can you objectively measure something as “soft” as a personal brand? Absolutely. You simply need to set some brand-related goals. Be specific so you use them to create key performance indicators (KPIs.) That way, you can use the KPIs to judge if you’re on target to meet your objectives. Having specific mile markers keeps you on the right path and helps bolster the strength of your personal brand.
What’s a branding-linked KPI you could conveniently measure? Let’s say your personal brand included buying locally sourced, seasonal food as often as you could. A KPI might be to aim for 50% of your groceries to come from nearby farms or agribusiness suppliers within a 12-month period. Every month, you could evaluate what percentage of your food and beverage came from your community. At the 12-month mark, you could see how effective you were. You could also refresh and update your KPIs based on new information.
5. Evolve it.
Are you the same person you were a year ago? Five years ago? Ten years ago? No one is. You’re going to change over time, which means your brand may ripen, too. This doesn’t mean that you have to reinvent a branding statement every few months. On the other hand, you’ll want to dust it off occasionally to make sure you’re still on target.
Over the decades, Jason has definitely added more elements to his personal brand. Today, he’s a husband and parent, which are two important roles. “As a result, I’ve added familial aspects to my personal branding statement that weren’t there when I was just embarking on my career as a serial entrepreneur” Jason Hennessey notes.
Once you’ve defined and accepted your brand, you can use it in a myriad of ways to grow personally and professionally. Just make sure you take the process seriously from the get-go to reap the greatest rewards.