WHAT IS A PERSONAL BRAND?
Quite simply, a personal brand is YOU. It is how you choose to project yourself in public, and it is therefore how you are perceived. Whether you have considered this previously or not, we all have a personal brand. Defining and developing your personal brand can be a difficult process which requires thought and reflection, both of which will start here.
The easiest way to define your personal brand is consider a party. A good party. One at a sweet place with good music, delicious snacks and just the right vibe. At this party 2 people are having a conservation about you (as a physiotherapist), what they choose to say about you is a direct reflection of your personal brand.
COMPONENTS OF A PERSONAL BRAND
There are many components of your personal brand, as in the example above, there are many things that people may choose to say about you. The two big ones, for me, are image and personality.
Your personal image, whether you like it or not, will be the basis of many peoples first impressions of you. Whilst it is not appropriate for me to tell people how to dress themselves (unless I was working in an acute neurological setting), it is important to be aware that your clothing, hair, etc will affect your personal brand. This can be positively or negatively, your choice.
There is also your personality, now this is a big one. Whilst you cannot change your personality, you can decide which components of it to emphasise. Consider two extremes of personality, such as either being the utter professional (AKA no smiling, joking or laughing) or being the comedian (AKA lacking professionalism). It can be quite an inner battle to decide where you want to sit on this sliding scale. Where is the happy medium between building a great patient rapport, yet still being viewed as the expert and a professional? In many cases, this can be difficult to do. To quote Monty Python – “We are all individuals”, and you must decide for yourself.
WHY IS A PERSONAL BRAND IMPORTANT?
Isn’t it obvious? To me it is. Your personal brand is one of the most important assets you will have as a physiotherapist. It gives you individuality and separates you from being just a face in the crowd. We are all individuals!
Your personal brand is the basis of word of mouth. It is part of the reason why patients will come back to you again and again. It is why they tell their mother, sister, next door neighbour, hairdresser and arborist to come and see YOU. It will be the foundation of your reputation and will ultimately drive your success.
A strong personal brand can be invaluable. Elite level sports physiotherapists can be denied jobs simply when members of the team’s coaching staff are not familiar with them. If you want the top job you need to generate the right amount of party chatter!
PERSONAL BRAND BEST PRACTICE
When developing your personal brand, best practice is to be yourself(ish). Whilst as a physiotherapist you have an obligation to act professionally you can decide to what extent you wish to take this too. It is important to remember that your personal brand is YOU, and you must be able to maintain this image. You must live this image – it is what you wear, how you look, what you say, what you do, and what you are interested in!
I hope this is some food for thought about personal branding and its importance within the realm of physiotherapy.