What do the most successful people over 50 have in common?

They know and express who they are. They have honed and communicated their professional identity and made others aware of their personal attributes – their expertise, talents, and deepest commitments. In other words, these people have developed a personal brand – or a “Brand You,” the term coined by Tom Peters.

Mention their names, and you instantly think of a set of personal attributes, in much the same way we might associate attributes such as “reliable, fuel-efficient, and low-maintenance” with a certain brand of car. However, a personal brand is not a superficial marketing ploy. It is as different from a product brand as a dynamic, complex person is from an inanimate object. “Brand You” emerges from a person’s deepest commitments, interests, and unique “genius.” What are some famous personal brands?

Bill Gates: Technology genius: Harvard dropout who founded Microsoft to become the world’s richest man. Philanthropist: Puts his wealth to work in huge global projects for the public good.

Oprah Winfrey: Brilliant entrepreneur: Billionaire talk-show TV personality and media owner. Social pioneer: As a black woman, overcame racial and gender barriers to be embraced by households of every race and ethnicity in 12 countries.

Warren Buffett: Stock market investment genius: Financial oracle known for being right about achieving investment gains in both up and down markets and amassing huge wealth. New image of “rich”: Buffett lives frugally compared to most of the “rich and famous.” What is the value of a personal brand? Whether you’re a celebrity or just a knowledgeable, mature worker with years of valuable experience, establishing a clear and authentic personal brand can bring multiple benefits. It allows you to:

  • Control the direction of your career by increasing your visibility and ability to attract and land target jobs.
  • You’ll spend less time and money on job searches and personal marketing because your brand will do a lot of the selling for you (online, offline and wherever you go).
  • Request and receive higher compensation for your work because your offerings are unique and differentiated in your market.
  • Experience personal fulfillment by aligning your career with your authentic self.
  • Conversely, without a strong personal brand, you may miss out on key business and career opportunities.

You can do it!

Here are five tips for building your own “Brand You.”

Spend some time thinking and talking with others about who you are professionally and how you are perceived. If the two aren’t the same, plan a strategy for bringing them into alignment. This might begin with rewriting your resume.

Use one or more public channel(s) to promote your personal brand. Create a personal Web site, blog, or online resume that reflects your personal style, describes what you do, details your background, and conveys your unique value. Include the credentials, experience, skills, and/or personal attributes that differentiate you from people with similar profiles. Tell readers what they will gain by hiring or working with you.

Use visuals. Photographs and graphic designs that reinforce your verbal message can create powerful, positive impressions in a reader’s mind. Consider hiring (or bartering with) a design professional to create a logo that reflects your personal brand and to help you with effective layouts for your promotional materials.

Reinforce your personal brand in all your interactions with others. Mention your key attributes and special qualities in voicemail messages, your email signature, and whenever you speak with current or potential clients face to face.

Treat your personal brand as a work in progress. Experiment to see what works and discard approaches that do not produce results. Use your “brand you” to create employment, avocation and retirement solutions that fulfill and energize you throughout your life.

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