Developing strong personal branding can propel you into a world of opportunities normally hidden away. All around us there are names of people who have only found their audience due to their brands, built around their own personalities and passions.
Personal branding as a pursuit is a newcomer on the scene but the concept is as old as humans.
Before the online world took over our lives and businesses, there were limits to personal branding. Our manners, work ethic, and whether we helped old ladies across the road did all the talking. Now, personal branding is essential for showing our skills and potential to our audience online.
Creating a strong and coherent personal brand takes effort but in return, you’ll get greater opportunities and a clearer path to follow. When you get personal branding spot on, it’s an authentic and open representation of who you are that others can relate to.
To find out everything you need to know about developing a personal brand that shines, keep reading. Whether you want to be a micro-influencer or land the job of your dreams, we’re about to show you how personal branding will get you there.
What Is a Personal Brand?
Your personal brand is how other people see you. In a professional sense, it’s the impression and feelings others have about who you are and what you can do.
A personal brand is made up of what you say and do online and off, your work, and how you interact with your audience. It also includes how you come across face-to-face as well, for instance at networking events or in client meetings.
For those actively seeking new opportunities in work as well as every self-employed person, developing your personal brand has never been more crucial. For employees happy in their roles, maintaining a personal brand is important too.
Why Is Personal Branding so Important?
We make purchase decisions for a variety of factors but there are always commonalities. Branding plays a huge role in why we pick certain companies to buy from or work with. Often, we’ll pick brands on subconscious familiarity and trust.
For you, personal branding is your way for others to see and trust you.
You know that horrible feeling you get when you sense that someone is lying to you? It usually comes about because what they say doesn’t match up with what they do. This mismatch is a clear indicator that something’s afoot and we avoid people and businesses that we don’t trust as much as possible.
By defining and developing your personal brand, you’ll be putting across aligned, cohesive values and actions that will create trust.
While creating a personal brand might feel choreographed and fake, it’s the opposite when done well. Authenticity goes hand in hand with trust and your audience will be able to connect with you on a deeper level if they can see you’re presenting yourself authentically.
This connection is the foundation of every opportunity that will come your way.
It’s estimated that around 70% or more of jobs are not advertised. That’s right. You won’t find those opportunities on any job search site. And what about all those projects that influencers and entrepreneurs get involved in? They’re not advertised either.
When other business owners and professionals are looking for great people to work with, they don’t post a job advert. Instead, they look into their existing network to find potential employees and partnerships. They think about people online who’ve caught their eye or those who their peers speak of highly. They go on personal branding.
Developing a personal brand gets you found.
Opportunities come your way when you’re seen as the best person for the project.
Our world is competitive though and there are plenty of people out there with your degree or previous role or interests. Your personal brand is the combination of skills, experience, and personality that make you the go-to person.
Part of building a personal brand is focusing down on what it is that makes you unique in the world. When you capture this, you can become an authority on it.
The Key Steps to Building a Personal Brand
A personal brand is useful whether you’re looking for a salaried role or want to build your own business. A strong brand can open up previously hidden doors for you but it takes work. From building consistent social media content to staying on-brand, there are no shortcuts.
Building a personal brand is a step-by-step process that you can’t do in a day. When you put thought and effort into your brand development, you’ll have a much more focused brand by the end.
So, without further ado, it’s time to get out a pen and paper and start building Brand You.
Personal Brand Values
A lot of people struggle with the concept of brand values and even see them as a waste of time. Every successful brand will have a solid set of brand values though, even if they’re not listed on their website.
A value is a principle that you hold in high regard and let it guide your behavior and decisions. We all have values already, but sometimes we don’t recognize them as such.
A personal value might be to cherish your family and put them first. By having this value, if you have a choice between seeing a band or helping your sister through a tough day, you know which one to choose because it’s the one that will align with your values.
When you’re developing your personal brand, your values won’t be too difficult to define because you already know yourself pretty well. Do you value honesty highly? How about a drive to always be straight-talking? Maybe connection is a key value for you.
Writing a list of your top five core values can help you see what you believe and let it help you in decision making.
Brand value example: “Honesty. I believe that honest communication and actions are of the utmost importance.”
When you have your values list, you’ll already be well on your way to a strong personal brand. This is because while we all share some values, our particular blend will be different from other brands.
Purpose, Mission, and Message
The next part you’ll need to pin down is your purpose, mission, and message. These are all based on what you do and why you do it.
Purpose: If you’re a jeweler, your purpose isn’t just to sell jewelry. Your purpose might instead be to help people express themselves.
Mission: Your mission might be an environmental one. You might wish to bring back one-off pieces that last a lifetime and help others move away from cheap, poor quality jewelry in the fast fashion industry.
Message: Your message might be one of social responsibility. That the jewelry we wear matters and we are responsible for where it comes from.
How Purpose, Mission, and Message Stay With You
These three things come together with your values to form the foundation of a powerful personal brand; an ethical maker who doesn’t exploit others or the environment. You might be making and selling jewelry right now, but your purpose, mission, and message are all bigger than the jewelry.
As the jewelry is only the medium through which you are channeling your purpose, mission, and message, you can move into other opportunities if you choose. You might begin working for a newspaper or take up animal husbandry. As your values and purpose are clear, they won’t change regardless of what you do.
What Makes You, You?
There’s a lot of competition out there in most industries but you don’t have to invent a new you to stand out. You’re already unique.
You might have a degree in international relations like many other applicants but that’s just one part of your brand make-up. How about the month you spent volunteering in Tanzania? What about growing up with parents from different cultures? How about your obsession with reading European history books?
It can be hard to think of ourselves as experts because we’re just…us…right? Remember that few people will have your knowledge and no one will have your knowledge combined with your experience and interests.
Create a list of all the parts of your life, interests, and personal history that add to your particular focus.
Understanding who your target audience is will be as important as understanding who you are. A brand is only successful if it connects with the people it strives to.
Otherwise, it’s just a nice brand that nobody cares about.
Luckily, by outlining your values and making decisions based on them, you’ll already be on the path to connection. This is because we connect with other people when we share their values. While few people will read your values and outright think, “I have the same values, therefore, I like your brand”, they will be drawn to your brand if it behaves in accordance with those values.
Your purpose, mission, and message should also resonate with your audience and be something that they believe in and want to be part of.
Think about who your audience is specifically by asking these questions:
- How old are they?
- What jobs do they have?
- What do they care about?
- What do they spend their spare cash on?
- Other questions relevant to your goals
When you know your audience, you can alter your brand to speak directly to them, in their language.
What Problem Do You Solve?
This is the area that causes many start-ups to fail. Sometimes an entrepreneur will come up with a product or service and send it out into the world. Sure, it might be a neat idea but it soon turns out that nobody needs it.
If what you’ve got doesn’t solve a problem, it won’t work out in your favor.
Going back to our ethical jewelry idea, you might be solving an important problem. Many people love to express themselves through jewelry but don’t want to buy the same pieces as everybody else or see them corrode and break after two months. They might worry about the human and environmental costs of fast fashion and precious gems too.
Your jewelry business is solving this problem but providing durable, unique, and ethically conscious jewelry.
Define Your Personal Image
Your personal image might be what you thought of when you first heard the term “personal branding”. Your image is the aesthetics of your brand.
These include the style of photographs you use, how you present yourself, and the colors and fonts that appear on your website and profiles. When you choose these, it’s important to resonate strongly with them as they must remain consistent. To change your personal image may require a re-branding exercise.
To create a strong personal image, you’ll need access to amazing professional photographs. Photographs that don’t quite cut it will quickly hamper your brand and stop your audience trusting you.
Create Your Online Presence
You might have the strongest, most gripping personal brand but if nobody sees it, you’ll miss your goals. You can only create your online presence after you’ve completed the steps above so you stay consistent.
Your online presence includes:
- Your website
- Your social media profiles
- Forum discussions
- Guest posts
Striving for uniformity across your online presence is essential. This means using the same photograph for each profile, the same colors, and showing up in a way that honors your values. If you have trust as a value, you can’t ignore your social media comments, for instance.
Building an online presence is one of the most difficult parts of developing your brand as each social channel is so different. What works for Facebook might not work for Twitter. Instagram is one of the most powerful social channels and has launched the careers of many influencers. If your audience love visuals, Instagram is a great place to start.
Teaching yourself to use Instagram can take months though and it’ll be clear to your audience that you’re not yet confident in your personal brand. Ensuring you have a consistent theme from the outset helps keep your brand clear.
The key to a successful online presence is to build it gradually. Spreading your efforts wide but thin won’t look good.
Nail Your Personal Branding and Open a World of Opportunities
Whether you’re looking for the job of your dreams or you’re building your own business, getting your personal branding right can take you where you want to go.
By developing a strong, clear brand rooted in relatable values, you’ll be able to draw your audience in. As your personal brand is a reflection of your purpose, mission, and message, you can use it to connect with others on a deep and authentic level. This comes together to make you someone your audience will follow anywhere.
Instagram has been pivotal in building audiences and generating opportunities and income for influencers for years. This fantastic, visual platform can take some getting used to though when it comes to personal branding. Sign up for our free Instagram course and perfect your feed right from day one. When you understand how to embrace Instagram, you can let your personal brand shine.