Choose the right character to brand yourself this year 

What you need to know:

You must take deliberate steps if you want to brand yourself. People must know you for something. Of course, many people are known for despicable things but you must not choose that path because it will never take you far, writes Eronie Kamukama.

They say first impressions last. I recently had a conversation with James Kayima on marketing a business, but as we concluded he told me: “The way you are dressed, if I was your customer and you brought me a quotation of Shs10m, I doubt I would give it to you. Not that you are not smart, you just need look like you’re from the high-end group, look like the money you are asking for. The phone you hold matters and so does the hair, shoes and clothes you wear. That is all personal branding.”

Of course, I had opted for a casual outlook and the lesson could have been sufficient for the day.

Just like Kayima, Linda Abeja, the director Amariatek Life Coaching believes: “How you dress up is important and it determines how people perceive you”.

In his book, Linda says, Donald Trump emphasizes dress code and says: “buy the best clothes when you go for a meeting with people who could impact your life. People judge who they see before they speak. Your appearance can get you what you want or not.” 

However, beyond this, she believes personal branding is more profound than appearances.

It is the reputation that precedes you but how well that is managed is another thing. Character is its foundation but your mission, accomplishments, beliefs, hobbies, and vision as well, are important.

Branding is normally associated with products or services. The practice is much older than one can imagine.

Branding meant putting a permanent mark with a hot iron. By the 17th century people were branding their livestock.

Egyptian funeral monuments, about 4,000 years old, show branded cattle. Also in ancient Egypt, masons in construction of pyramids marked their work to distinguish it from that of other masons and ensure they receive a fair pay.

However, branding has evolved and today, marketers use it to create names, symbols and designs that tell the expectations from a service and differentiate their products from others.

It is in the last 10 years that many have come to believe that people need to put themselves out there, distinctively, the way marketers do for goods and services.

Branding one-self

Abeja has a lot to say in regards to branding one-self. The life coach says: “In the market, products that are well branded actually sell. People will buy a product because of the packaging, some, its good quality. It is the same thing with individuals. If we want to compete effectively on the market with other people for opportunities and also for business, it is key to brand yourself.”

However, it is not just about building a personal brand, your brand must be strong to stand out.

A good personal brand must be authentic from the word go. “It is unique. You stay true to yourself and are not trying to be a copycat of someone else,” she explains.

Be consistent

Take a look at products such as Coca-Cola. Almost everyone, including little children and the elderly, know the soft drink but it does not take a break from advertising and selling its promise to customers.

“You must be consistent not only in appearance but also in the quality that you deliver. You must stand out each and every time without compromising on the quality. You must get better at it and also be relatable with people,” Abeja says,

“People should be in position to relate with you. Before anything, people do not care about how much knowledge you have. The only thing they care about is how well they can relate with that.”

To put faces to her advice, the life coach suggests a look at people such as Rosa Malango, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Life coach Ethan Musolinni and NTV News Anchor Faridah Nakazibwe. Building their personal brands has even been easier with technology trends. The advent of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more recently Tik-Tok, has made them more noticeable. They speak about their brand, tell the world what they are up to every other day and also ask the world to share their stories.

Faridah Nakazibwe never set out to have a personal brand. “It is not something I have done deliberately but people have chosen to think about it that way. I take it as a compliment,” she says.

Stay true to yourself

It has taken staying true to herself and in her words, one must know who they are in their society, know and stand by their values.

“Those who know your values will adjust to them. I tell people who come to work with me what I will and will not do. We must compromise on what we can but not on things that will negatively affect my personal brand. When you have a respected brand, you can even negotiate well for the things that will further promote your brand.”

It has so far paid off in many ways in terms of networks built over the years.

“I have earned a lot of respect. I have got a lot more friends. I have been contacted by companies to help them market their brands so it is making me lots of money,” Nakazibwe says, “The way things are moving, it looks like branding yourself is going to be one of the ways to go. It is not just for companies but for individuals as well. I can say I am becoming a company slowly even when I did not set out to do it. Of course everybody should mind about having a personal brand that stands out. The difference is that some choose what others refer to as negative brands. What you decide to be as a brand is what will bring you all these benefits.”