The Why and How of Personal Branding
In the social media era, more people are sharing more information than ever before. But true personal marketing goes beyond this by intentionally building a professional brand others recognize and value.
In today’s modern world, you are your brand. But you cannot reap all the benefits and truly be your own brand unless you consciously take control of that brand’s elements. No “branding rules” can tell you how to do it – you must discover and make the rules for yourself.
If you’re wondering how to find your personal brand, we’re here to help.
What Is Personal Branding?
Your personal brand delivers a consistent “promised experience” you can stand behind in all situations. It encapsulates your skills, experience, and capabilities in a way other people understand fast.
It’s related to the idea of having personal integrity, but it extends the concept across all of the different aspects of promoting and presenting yourself. Like a corporate brand, it helps others recognize you and recall what you are capable of at the moment they need your expertise.
What Are Personal Brand Attributes?
A personal brand can have many different attributes:
1. Personal Style and Visual Identity
When you think of a celebrity, you often think about how they look, dress, and move at the same time you think of whatever they are famous for. We can’t all look like celebrities, but it’s possible to choose to have a consistent personal style people will associate with you.
For extensions of your personal brand like your site and social media, “personal style” becomes visual identity. A visual identity is a consistent set of visual themes, including color schemes, logo, font choices, and so on, that you use across all of your digital properties.
2. Manner of Speaking
“Written and oral communication” make up the #1 most requested skillset in job postings, yet most people don’t think really reflect on their own speaking. If you cultivate skills in public speaking, you can learn to communicate in more nuanced and memorable ways.
3. Thought Leadership
Just about anyone can claim to be an expert online, but they need a platform that provides evidence for this. That often starts by writing a book, but a blog can serve the same purpose if you maintain it a long period of time. Helpful, informative content makes your expertise more credible.
Personal Branding Examples
You do not need to be a celebrity to have a personal brand, but just about every actor, musician, and even many writers have a personal brand that is recognizable at a glance. When you think about these people, you can instantly recall their look, sound, and precisely what you can expect from them.
Consider the following examples:
Steve Jobs’ personal brand had a profound effect on Apple. He used his keynote speeches to showcase his relentless focus on innovation, minimalist aesthetic, and disdain for traditional consumer feedback.
Oprah Winfrey built a media empire on a personal brand of authenticity and empathy, which suffused her communication style as she used her show as a thought leadership platform on many social topics.
Weird Al Yankovic
Weird Al has a distinctive appearance and, although most of his oeuvre consists of parody, just about everyone knows that he plays the accordion. He stands out as one of the world’s leading satirists.
Why Is Personal Branding Important?
When your brand is consistent, people know you are a reliable and enduring presence in whatever field you contribute in. As the personal brand grows, it helps you open doors to more valuable opportunities. A strong brand inspires and motivates others to seek you out rather than you searching for them – like the difference between referral business as compared to active, time-consuming lead generation.
Tips for Creating a Personal Brand
1. Raise Your Social Media Visibility
When it comes to personal branding social media is the place to start. Social media influencer marketing can elevate your visibility. By sending influencers content they want to share, you are getting endorsed by those influencers and securing the trust of their audience.
2. Spend Time on the Right Networks
Choose the right social media networks depending on your needs and your industry. For example, many real estate agents are creating business value through successful promoting on Instagram. If you are in a high-tech or B2B sector, you might find relevant opportunities on LinkedIn.
3. Decide Who You Are and Be Yourself
Many companies on social media try to pass off their brand as a person, but this often fails. It rings hollow because it is an act. To have a personal brand, you must start by knowing who you truly are. Then, use social media, videos, and your own website to express that in new ways.
4. Focus on the Core of Communication
The better you communicate, the easier it will be to represent your personal brand in all the different situations you end up in. Look for areas where you have difficulty getting your unique ideas across and challenge yourself to improve.
5. Define Your Personal Brand Aesthetic
You don’t have to dress in the same outfit daily like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs to have a personal brand. But since you need to create a consistent experience across any platform where you are found, decide on the key elements – colors, fonts, and logo – for your websites and social profiles.
6. Drill Down to What Matters Most
Whatever your core area of expertise is, be sure you are always exploring it, studying it, and finding ways to better yourself. This not only proves your passion and commitment to your field, but it’ll provide the gravitas your personal brand needs to make a meaningful difference for others.
Branding yourself may not seem natural at first, but anyone can learn and reap the benefits. You can discover more about how to promote yourself on social media elsewhere on our blog.