The idea of creating a personal brand can be a little intimidating and confusing. Are you feeling left behind in the world of personal branding? In this article, you will learn why personal branding is important, regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur or a corporate employee, and how to take simple steps to start, build, and enhance your personal brand.
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The Rise of Personal Branding
Personal branding is much more than just a logo, color scheme, or personal image.
The rise and domination of social media platforms has created entirely new categories of people that we now call “influencers” who seem to come out of nowhere and suddenly achieve celebrity status.
Musicians, actors, and other creatives have exploded their presence around the world by using personal branding. Small, start-up businesses have expanded into marketing powerhouses with global audiences and customer bases simply by building personal brands.
Personal branding is now an entire industry in itself with branding coaches and consultants that specialize specifically in helping you build your personal brand. There are books, online courses, videos, and entire companies that are dedicated to helping you build your personal brand. But where do you start?
What Is Personal Branding and Why Should You Care?
The term “branding” was once associated primarily with big businesses…you know, those nameless, faceless mega-companies delivering everything from toothpaste to breakfast cereals to automobiles. However, the social landscape has changed.
Personal branding has become a vital part of success in any business, especially when you are the “face of the brand.” Whether you’re an entrepreneur, or you work for a small business or large corporation, how you portray yourself, both in-person and in the “web-o-sphere,” can make a big difference in both your short- and long-term success strategy.
When you consider some of the largest companies (“brands”) in the world, don’t you also associate the personal brand of the owner with that corporate brand? For example, when you think of Amazon, doesn’t Jeff Bezos also pop into your mind? What about Virgin Group and it’s over 200 companies—Richard Branson, right? And who can separate Apple from the late, great Steve Jobs? The same goes for Oprah Winfrey and her various brands, Elon Musk with Tesla and now SpaceX, and the list goes on.
Why Is Personal Branding Important to Your Career?
Personal branding empowers you to stand out in your chosen field. Whether you are an employee looking to rise up and climb the corporate ladder or a CEO building your own entrepreneurial venture, personal branding brings you credibility and attention. Building your personal brand adds a key element to your company’s marketing strategy and builds stronger internal communication with your team.
Personal branding even affects you if you are in the job market seeking employment. Research has found that an astounding 70% of employers use social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram to research prospective employees before hiring them. Nearly half (48%) check up on their current employees using social media, and over a third (34%) have either reprimanded or fired and employees based on social media posts and other content found online.
Why is personal branding important? Because the world is watching! How you present yourself online does make a difference, even if you think no one cares.
How Social Media Affects Your Personal Brand
In our fast-paced, modern technological age, social media seems to have virtually taken over our lives. Most of us are on multiple social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It is now commonplace to see people glued to their phones, scrolling through social media platforms and engaging in other online activities.
When it comes to your personal branding, you can be assured that your audience is on social media, too. How you present yourself on your chosen platforms will determine their level of engagement.
Researchers have pointed to a phenomenon called “participation inequality” to explain the importance of online engagement. For every person actively engaging with your content (i.e., liking, commenting, reposting), there are likely to be 9 others who are engaging intermittently and 90 more who are just lurking. Yes, the world is watching indeed.
Personal Branding: Not Just for Influencers Anymore
You can benefit greatly from personal branding, regardless of whether your intended outcome is becoming an “influencer” in today’s social media space.
Rory Vaden, the co-founder of Brand Builders Group, pointed out the importance of personal branding for everyone when he stated:
“People don’t do business with companies. They do business with people they like. We have relationships based on trust and mutual connections. There’s just something about a connection with a human being that creates a level of endearment and customer loyalty beyond any relationship a company could ever reach. The strong bonds people have with one another can’t be overestimated.”
An Important Element of Your Personal Brand
Virtually every authority on personal branding suggests that you start by answering questions surrounding your core values. This is the foundation of your personal brand.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What is important to you?
- What do you value?
- What do you cherish?
- Who do you want to impact the most?
The answers to these questions will help you to create the connection you need with your audience and build your personal brand.
To get started creating or growing your personal branding strategy, you can consult this comprehensive infographic, which will help you stay on track with your personal branding strategy.
7 Ways You Can Start Developing Your Personal Brand Today
1. Start With the End in Mind
What is your intention behind personal branding? To start defining, developing, or building your personal brand, first decide what you want to accomplish with your branding strategy. For example, is your intention simply to present yourself better or more clearly in the world? Or do you have a specific business strategy in mind for building your personal brand?
When working with my own coaching and consulting clients, I have developed a simple strategy that I call “The 3 Core Questions” to consider before you take any step that involves connecting with your audience.
That means that before you create a video, before you write a blog article, before you write an email, before you put out any message in any format or platform, answer “The 3 Core Questions” as clearly and in as much detail as you can. Adding this single strategy to your messaging will push more power into your personal brand.
The 3 Core Questions:
- Who are you? (your message, your story, your professional core values)
- Who are you talking to? (your audience, their interests, their desired outcomes)
- What do you want them to do next and why? (your calls to action and irresistible offers)
2. Be Authentic
Be yourself, but know your stuff! Your goal in personal branding is to build your tribe. And your tribe is likely to be people who have similar interests, desires, and goals as you. Share from the heart. Tell your story.
Don’t fall prey to the idea that you can “fake it ’til you make it.” While that may work for a while, it isn’t going to fool most people for very long.
Remember that part of personal branding is about creating authority and respect among your tribe. You can do that by staying a step ahead, anticipating their needs, and responding to their desired outcomes. There is magic in the combination of being yourself and still giving your tribe what they want.
3. Be Clear in Your Focus
People’s attention span is short these days. In most cases, you will run into challenges if you try to be everything to everyone. Determine who your audience is based on your own core value system and then clearly craft your messaging toward them.
You’ll want to grab your audience’s attention quickly with each piece of content you create while staying true to your brand throughout.
4. Choose Quality Over Quantity
It’s far better to have 1,000 loyal followers than to have 100,000 people who aren’t 100% clear about who you are. This is especially true if your ultimate goal is to monetize your tribe. There is a saying in marketing that “a buyer is a buyer is a buyer.” What that means is that if your followers buy one thing from you, they are far more likely to take you up on your future offers, too.
Even if monetizing your audience is not your intention, you will achieve much better engagement and interaction among people who align with your core values.
5. Be Consistent
Because your personal brand is built around your core values, it is essential to be consistent about how and when you show up. That means consistency in your messaging, your overall branding (like logos, color schemes, etc.) and even when you are posting your content.
For example, if your YouTube audience and followers expect you to post a video on Friday mornings, then stay consistent with that schedule, even if you don’t make specific announcements about when your content will appear.
6. Speak to Your Tribe as Individuals, Not in GroupSpeak
People in general love to be included as part of the group, but they actually respond more enthusiastically when being addressed as individuals. Have you ever been watching a YouTube video and heard the person refer to the audience as “you guys” or “my tribe” or even worse, “my followers”? It tends to sound impersonal, not to mention the implied ego trip that creeps in with references like that.
Let’s face it, each of us is our own favorite subject, and even though we love being part of a tribe, we also love to be respected as individuals. One of the best ways to make a deeper connection with someone is to use their name.
In a social media post or when addressing your tribe as a whole, even though are you speaking to a group, set yourself up for success by using “you” instead of “you guys.” [Hint: read back over this article and you’ll see how I have been doing that with you all along.]
7. Own Your Brand
I mean this both figuratively and literally.
Figuratively speaking, walk your talk both online and offline. Authentically own your brand by living the lifestyle projected in your personal brand.
If you are building a company structure around your brand, then literally owning the social media handles and extensions, domains, trademarks, and any other intellectual property is an important part of owning your brand.
Even if you started out with some confusion about personal branding, as you can see, the process can be simple, but it does require some thought and a little effort. This article has laid out the basics of personal branding and a few key strategies that you can use to build or enhance your personal brand.
Stretch yourself, reach a little higher, get clear on your personal brand, and you will see both short-term and long-term results in your business or career.
Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com
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