Achieve the Best Return on Investment for Your Personal Brand (Part 1 of 2)

How to win respect and influence people


By Tracy Ho | We often see people wear designer outfits or makeup in an attempt to look more professional, put together, and successful. They are essentially leveraging brands to increase their self-worth, but fail to realize that these are cosmetic changes with short-term impact.


Investing in your personal brand is another matter. As mentioned in my previous column, personal branding is a strategic concept. It is about creating a desirable perception of yourself, and communicating it to your target audience in a clear, concise, and consistent way. Defining our personal brand starts with asking ourselves who we are, what we stand for, what we value, and how we want to be perceived.


In the words of Tom Peters, a well-known American writer on business and management: “In an increasingly crowded marketplace, fools will compete on price. Winners will find a way to create lasting value in the customer’s mind.”


Effective branding enhances a company’s credibility with consumers. The same goes for people. A strong personal brand builds trust and nurtures a following. It helps us generate rapport, win clients, and drive revenue growth. To build an impactful personal brand, we need to first invest in ourselves.


Personal brand equity is defined as the value that derives from others’ perception of you rather than your actual performance. Therefore, your relationships with others matter and is the foundation of your brand equity.


Building your brand equity is about increasing the reliability of your leadership. It can be enhanced by elevating yourself as having superior qualities compared to your peers, such as your management skills, integrity, and service quality.


Here is a case study of an executive I coached recently: X was a manager at a Fortune 500 company heading a regional team of 40. He had always been a hardworking, committed employee, but remained low profile and was reluctant to speak up during meetings. X did whatever his supervisors told him to do and accepted whatever salary increment he was given.


After seven years, he began to feel he was not being given the credit he deserved. Soon after X departed the firm, he realized that he had been earning 40% less than his counterpart who was far less experienced, handled fewer projects, and managed a smaller team. This realization caused him to reflect upon what went wrong with his personal brand.


X never built a strong executive presence within the organization. He wasn’t heard or recognized for his achievements. X never spoke up for himself, so naturally, his team didn’t speak up for him either. His supervisors and coworkers mostly remembered him as a nice and responsible person.


X did not have sufficient brand equity. He missed an opportunity to earn respect and the income he should have had.


Whether it’s products or people, every brand goes through highs and lows. It’s essential to develop sustainable brand equity, which can help us fight against personal attacks, mitigate reputational risks, and make us less vulnerable to competition and career setbacks–even in times of recession. In other words, investing in our personal brand equity can help reduce the chance of business failure, and lead to long-term professional success.


If you want to get a higher return on investment (ROI) on your brand, invest your time, energy, and resources sooner rather than later.


In our next column, we will share with you how to measure your ROI from investing in your brand. Stay tuned.


About the Author


Tracy is a leading personal branding strategist based in Asia. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Frame and Fame, an award-winning personal branding boutique. Tracy is also a personal branding coach for various MBA programs, startup accelerators, co-working spaces, and universities in Hong Kong.

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