Five ways the pandemic elevated the importance of personal brands

importance of personal brands

I recently wrote that we are heading into an Era of Unintended Consequences because it might take years to really see how millions of small and large post-pandemic changes in our customers impact our world and businesses. One of my projections of the “new normal” is that there will be even more importance of personal brands in the coming years.

What does this have to do with the pandemic? Read on …

Trends impacting the importance of personal brands

Before we go too far down the road here, let me emphasize that if you roll your eyes when anybody mentions “personal brand” you need to reassess reality. Having the online presence, authority, and reputation to get your job done is essential and as I’m going to demonstrate in this article, it’s ramping up. If you want to learn more about my thoughts on this, here is a quick article.

Now let’s get on with the show.

1. Impact of remote work on job mobility

Thousands of companies have invested big money in optimizing the newly remote workforce. And, for many job types, it worked very well! Many employees will never return to the office.

I think this portends an even more rapid decline in employee loyalty. The idea of lifetime employment has been over for years. Why would people stay at a company? Because they enjoy the office environment? Because they like seeing their friends? For millions of workers, there is no office environment, there are no friends … at least not hanging around the water cooler.

Many of the habits, perks, and relationships that held people in a job are going away and the next position is just a click away. You don’t even have to move.

Job mobility used to be based on networking and who you know. But in this new world, I think it is going to depend more on who knows you.

Hence, the new importance of personal brands as it impacts upward mobility in the coming years.

2. Rise of fractional workers

On a recent Marketing Companion podcast episode (you ARE listening aren’t you???) Brooke Sellas and I interviewed Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar. He emphasized that the future world of marketing will require many new skillsets, especially in technical areas.

He sees a big trend in hiring fractional talent. Companies who can’t afford full-time experts might buy part of a person for their expertise in AI and another for analytics, for example, to diversify the skills in any marketing department with the best talent. And of course, these individuals will also be working remotely.

As a consequence, there is a new importance on personal brands as we position ourselves, market ourselves, and sell ourselves in completely new ways. Over the past months, we’ve seen a flurry of new websites that slice and dice freelance services across every skill base. This is likely to evolve dramatically over the years to come.

If you’re known, you get hired.

3. Importance of personal brands as differentiator

All things being equal, would you rather hire a person who has no online presence or somebody who posts interesting and useful industry content that has earned 10,000 fans?

It’s well-known that in industries such as film, fashion, and modeling, your “number of followers” may determine whether you get the job or not. But this is spreading to many other professions.

There is no question that if you’re “known,” and another job applicant is not, you’re the one who will probably get the job.

Being known is a powerful differentiator. It shows you’re effectively using the online tools and learning how to build an audience. Having an effective social media presence is a life skill. I’m convinced the number of followers and posted articles you have will be key in determining whether you secure a job, based on the simple premise that companies are eager to secure more attention and appeal.

Here’s another subtle but important point. I recently posted an article and video about synthetic content. The world of deep fakes is about to get weird and wild. I predict that there will be increasing value in established personal brands that people can actually count on for truth. We’re already seeing this in journalism.

As truth becomes a very rare commodity, the importance of personal brands as beacons of trust will be important and valued.

4. It might be all you have

importance of personal brandsA few months ago, I wrote an article about how my career was saved by my personal brand.

The pandemic hit. My business crashed. I was a speaker without an audience, a consultant without customers, a teacher without a class. Even my book sales plummeted.

But within a few months, my business bounced back. Sure I worked hard and made some pivots, but people came back to me because in all this craziness they know they can count on me. They knew my personal brand.

I had blogged 650 straight weeks without missing. I’ve had a podcast for nine years — Never missed an episode. Every time I create a piece of content, it’s like making a deposit in an insurance policy of my career.

5. Maybe nothing else matters

A few years ago, I was asked to be the closing keynote speaker at the gigantic Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. In fact, I was the first person to do it twice!

When Phil Mershon called me to ask if I could do it, our conversation drifted and we started talking about my long career before I became “known” online.

  • I had run a global marketing team for a Fortune 100 company
  • I had been the account manager for a $1.5 billion account
  • I had received seven patents
  • I was the only person in my company to win two Chairman’s Awards for exceptional achievement
  • I helped lead a pioneering eCommerce platform, one of the first in the world.

“Gosh,” he said, “I consider you a friend but I never knew those things about you.”

“Let me ask you something, “I said, “does any of that matter? I mean, the only reason you hired me to speak was because I’m known right now … right?”

“I suppose that’s true,” Phil replied.

“And if I went away and wasn’t known anymore, we wouldn’t be having this call?”

“I suppose that’s true, too.”

That’s just the fact of life. If you’re known, and your competitors aren’t, you win. And there’s no more important time to have that edge than right now.

So that’s my thinking about the state of personal brands. I’m not a salesy person, but if you want to work on your own brand, thousands of people have benefited from my book KNOWN. I’ve taken the mystery out the process, and it works.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of several best-selling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram.

Photo courtesy Pixabay.


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