Even though you’re exposed to it every day, you likely haven’t thought a lot about personal branding. While grabbing your morning coffee, you might hear a local real estate agent talking about how she helped a client find their dream home. Maybe you watch a television interview of Elon Musk talking about his passion for commercial space travel. On the road, a billboard flashes past with the smiling face of a local dentist.
As an entrepreneur, you can get so caught up in the operational tasks of running your business, you forget what is at the heart of it — you! Whether you’re a consultant or professional gamer, invest in real estate, or write books, your personality is the core of your brand identity.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is a bit different from marketing a business — it’s the messages, materials, and mediums you use to represent yourself externally. Personal branding helps present a clear and concise message to the world about who you are, what you do, and what you value.
Out of 7.5 billion people on this planet, there is only one of you. Your personal brand shows off what is unique about you and how you differentiate from your competitors.
Why is personal branding important?
Think about all of the people you follow on social media or admire from afar. There is likely something you’ve found in common with them that caught your attention in the first place. This could be as simple as having a similar sense of humor or sharing the same goals. Whatever it is, it’s their brand—their representation of themselves—that’s got you hooked.
This is the power of personal branding. It creates a connection between you and people with similar tastes and values to you.
In business, people trust people more than advertising campaigns. In fact, 96% of consumers don’t trust ads, and 92% of people trust personal recommendations over other marketing tactics. It goes without saying then that investing in building a personal brand will pay off in the long run.
How do you build your personal brand?
Figuring out the best ways to enhance your image isn’t easy. Here are 15 tips to help you get started.
1. Consider your audience
It seems counterintuitive to think about other people first when building a personal brand. But ultimately, you are branding yourself to target and attract people to work with you. So, you need to consider what they’re looking for and how you offer a unique solution!
2. Be authentic
This is the hardest aspect of building a personal brand. While it’s important to consider what others are looking for, at the end of the day, your personal brand needs to represent the real you. If you represent yourself as chipper and upbeat online, but really, have a sarcastic, dark sense of humor, people will feel the disconnect between you online versus you in person.
It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour of creating a personal brand, but this can lead to us straying further away from who we really are. Make sure you are upfront and honest about who you are and what you sell. You want your external image to be close to what it’s really like working with you to create a sense of trust between you and your audience.
3. Create a vision
How do you want to represent yourself? Your vision is a combination of your mission and values, along with key personality traits that align with them. If you’re in real estate, you want people to know you’re organized, confident, and trustworthy- so you need to represent these aspects of your personality in your brand. Your vision should include how you choose to market what you do and why you do it. Figuring out a vision for your personal brand helps ensure others see you through the same lens.
4. Design a logo
Creating a logo is a very quick way to make your personal brand stand out! Logos are a vital asset for creating a memorable brand. You can use your logo on business cards, social media, email signatures, invoices, and on your website.
When designing a logo — make sure you select a font that matches your personal brand. If your personal brand is soft and feminine, look for a scripted font. If it’s a sophisticated look you’re after, look at serif fonts.
Design your personal brand logo!
5. Use compelling images
Think about how the images you use to reflect your identity. If you chose to create a fun persona, then you need pictures that show you enjoying yourself and highlighting the humorous side of what you do. The images should be highly personalized to your business offering — not stock photos. Pictures are especially important for social media since posts with photos receive more views and shares.
6. Show off your experience
Sharing your experiences provides proof that you are who you say you are. Make note of any unique skills, accomplishments, accolades, courses you’ve taken, publications you’ve written for, places you’ve been featured, or important people/organizations you’ve worked for. Keep a regular inventory of this and show it off!
7. Stay consistent
Consistency is key to keeping your personal brand thriving. Once you have the foundation for your personal brand covered — including your vision, logo, images, etc. be sure to maintain regular use of them. Your logo should be consistent across all mediums, your voice and tone should stay the same across all channels, from your website to your social media accounts, and even your personal emails!
8. Analyze your competition
No matter what you’re selling, you have at least a few competitors out there. Think about what they offer and what makes you unique. Don’t be afraid to compare yourself to them and point out the advantages of working with you! If you’re a photographer, it might be the style of photography you do. If you sell homes, then it might be your complete transparency through every step of the process. Think about what makes you better than your competition and share that information with your audience!
9. Tap into emotions
95% of people buy based on their emotions. Make a list of the key emotions connected to your business. Are you a dog walker? The key emotions there are trust, honesty, and reliability. Making this list will help you understand what emotions to focus your messaging on as you write and talk about what you do. Tap into your clients’ emotions and reach them on a higher level.
10. Make yourself an authority
Your personal brand should communicate your authority around a certain niche. You want to be seen as a subject matter expert! This authority builds trust in the eyes of your audience. The best way to build this trust is by creating a web of materials about your niche that points back to you.
Ways to build personal brand authority:
- Start your own blog
- Start a podcast
- Write or contribute to other blogs or publications
- Run workshops for your target audience
- Build an online course
- Develop a strong social media presence
- Answering questions on Quora
11. Practice an elevator pitch
Come up with a 30-second pitch that explains who you are and what you do — aka. an elevator pitch. Practice the words until you can summarize your brand in a few short sentences. Then, when that big opportunity arises with the client or customer you’ve always wanted to land, you’re ready to nail it!
12. Get out there
Your personal brand isn’t just about creating an online presence. It should be lived in the real world too! Get out into your community and speak about topics you know the most about. Go to networking events for people in your target audience. For example, if you’re a career coach, you might want to find job seeker networking opportunities and bring some business cards!
In the process, you’ll make connections and meet up with other entrepreneurs who might need your services. Building a personal brand is a lot like building a house — every interaction you have with a person is an opportunity to lay a new brick.
13. Pick your channels
As one person, you can only do so much. Building a personal brand takes time, but by picking specific channels to represent and promote yourself, you’ll find it easier to stay focused. You want to select your channels based on two factors: a) where your audience is b) what you find easiest to use.
If you’re a nutritionist, perhaps your primary channels should be your own blog, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you’re a gamer, it’ll likely be Youtube, Twitch, and possibly Twitter. We recommend sticking with three to start and build on.
14. Collaborate with others in your niche
Remember that branding is about how others see you. A great way to extend your personal brand is to partner with other people in the same niche as you. Gaming? Battle each other. Nutrition? Collaborate on a recipe together! Beauty? Do a photoshoot including both of your products.
Turn competition into collaboration — by creating content together, you both benefit. They get access to your audience, and you theirs!
15. Monitor your reputation
As a personal brand, your reputation is everything. Pay attention to what people are saying online. If someone writes a nasty review or complaint, answer it immediately and do your best to provide an explanation and rectify the problem. You might not be able to stop negative reviews completely, but you can control how you respond to them.
Get to it!
Creating a personal brand is a slow, but worthwhile process. Think about where your target audience spends most of their time and how you might capture their attention. Be honest, be consistent, and keep trying different ideas until you discover what helps people discover you. Remember that personal branding is an ongoing process, set some time aside to review the above every year to make sure you’re maintaining your personal brand.