Creating your personal brand is like creating a brand identity for a product or service with one big difference. In creating a brand identity, you can choose its name, values, and personality. When it comes to your personal brand, it’s all about you and your authenticity. That’s everything that you are, everything you aspire to be, and everything that people believe you to be.
- 1 So why should you build a personal brand?
- 2 Key benefits of developing your personal brand
- 3 How to transform yourself into a powerful brand
- 3.1 Step 1: Analyse yourself
- 3.2 Step 2: Set your goals
- 3.3 Step 3: Formulate your value proposition
- 3.4 Step 4: Create your name and story
- 3.5 Step 5: Create your visual identity
- 3.6 Step 6: Develop your brand strategy
- 3.7 Step 7: Prepare your content plan
- 3.8 Step 8: Rollout your activities
- 3.9 Step 9: Maintaining your brand
- 4 Summary
- 5 Download the Personal branding guide
So why should you build a personal brand?
Personal branding is all about establishing your public persona and communicating your values, beliefs, goals, and purpose. As the trend of entrepreneurs, freelancers continues to rise, and the internet and social media platforms become the focal point for everything, there has never been a more important time to define your online presence.
BE BOLD. EXPRESS WHO YOU REALLY ARE AND OWN IT.
When creating your personal brand, you create your own digital asset that will remain with you for your lifetime, outlasting any particular job or career. It will be the way the majority of people will see you today in our digital world. If you don’t, you leave yourself open for someone else to control your online identity, damage or even tarnish your reputation. Now is the time to make your mark!
By following the points listed below, you can create an authentic online personal identity that is sustainable and able to evolve as you evolve.
Whether you are an experienced entrepreneur or just starting your career, this article covers what you need to create your personal brand. How to package it, leverage it to your best advantage, and how to build and maintain it over the course of your lifetime.
Key benefits of developing your personal brand
Demonstrates your uniqueness
Your personal brand is built upon your values, goals, skills, experience and passions. Your brand is the essence of who you are. It makes you unique and allows you to carve out your niche. And by doing so, it will enable you to position yourself as an authority. Enhancing your credibility and giving you an enormous edge over someone who hasn’t worked to develop a strong personal brand. This applies especially when it comes to landing a new job or winning a new client over the competition.
Builds your credibility
Your online brand will become your digital reputation, portfolio and platform. It will be the channel to your audience that creates that vitally important first impression. You can showcase your work, case studies and include valuable testimonials. These elements will make you more valuable to those looking for you. And, if structured correctly, your brand presence will convey your experiences as high-value credibility builders and door openers.
Develops your network
Your personal brand will clearly articulate who you are, what you do, and how you can help others. This will make it easier for people to see the value in connecting with you. As you build your network, you will be creating your circles of trust, interested in you and what you have to say. You, in turn, can learn about your follows, about their needs and interests. This will take time and effort to cultivate but when its established and flourishing, no one can take it away from you.
Strengthens your influence
With a defined niche and voice of authority within a particular field of expertise, your online presence gives you visibility and the stage to influence opinions, decisions, attitudes and actions of your audience. It can be especially powerful if you are able to educate them along the way through the sharing of your knowledge and expertise. If you can bring clarity on a particular topic by cutting through the noise and uncertainty of something. This will add real value to your viewers and strengthen your position as a subject matter expert.
Increases your premium
Having put all the building blocks in place, and you have started to develop your online presence, all the elements inherent within your brand come into play. Your skills, experience, reputation all go towards justifying charging premium prices for your work or services. So if you are building a brand for commercial reasons, or plan to someday in the future. Having a strong brand will help you move out of the commodity market. This could be to speak at conferences, writing in publications, or gaining affiliation with a group or organisation.
Leverages your career
When you have been through the process of building your brand, you will have built the foundations of your professional and public identity. This will position you in front of people’s minds within your industry. It will elevate you to a position where you are sought after by headhunts for your expertise. And being a person of influence, it will help you raise yourself out of the job market pool. You won’t be seen as a number, and you won’t be put into a box. This will give you complete control over the direction you want to take your career.
How to transform yourself into a powerful brand
There are essentially 9 steps to follow to create, develop and maintain your personal brand. By getting your branding right, it will empower you as an individual, enable you to shine a spotlight on your expertise, and make you stand out from the crowd.
Step 1: Analyse yourself
The starting point is the most difficult part of the process when it comes to building your personal brand. This is because you need to change the way you think; you need to turn things around and start looking inwards, thinking carefully and analytically about yourself. You must be authentic, so this must be your starting point.
Take the time to reflect on your life and career to date, remembering where you have come from and what you have learnt, achieved and experienced, in order to determine where you plan to go in the future.
Unleash your passions
Spend time figuring out who you really are and what you like doing best. If you can unleash your true passions, focus on this as it will be what motivates you today and will ultimately bring you your greatest rewards, emotionally and/or financially. Remember, your brand is you, it’s living and breathing and will reflect who you are throughout your life’s journey. So don’t be worried about capturing what motivates you today in case it changes, as it probably will, as your ambitions and goals change over time.
Determine your values
Once you have decided on what you want to do, next you need to articulate your values which translate into core principles that give meaning to your life. These are the uncompromising truths and standards that determine your outlook, your attitude, the choices you make, and the action you take.
What is your offer
Now it’s time to look outwardly and determine how what you want to do can add value to a particular market. It’s important to remember here that although your brand is reflecting you, your personal brand should be about what you can do to help other people. In a way that is genuine and without overselling yourself – do not act bigger than you are. If done in the right way, your brand will sell itself.
If you can, socialise what you have done so far with your family, close friends and colleagues who will be able to give you valuable feedback on how you view yourself.
Step 2: Set your goals
It’s time to be specific about what you want to accomplish and achieve both short, medium and long term. When setting goals, align them with reality, and where possible use a benchmark to help define what success looks like. This will make it easier to plan and measure as you set your objectives later on in the process.
When setting a benchmark, this could be modelling yourself on a mentor, or someone you follow, admire or aspire to within your industry. Someone who has attained a certain level of skill, following or reputation within your field of knowledge or expertise. That does not mean copy, but instead to study them; their social profiles and website, emulating what they’re doing with the goal of surpassing them. And if that goal is medium to long term, think about some interim goals so that you can measure steps and progression towards its ultimate achievement.
At this point, you need to be able to clearly articulate your brand vision and its purpose in one or two sentences explaining; what your brand stands for, is values and what goals you are aiming to achieve.
Don’t spend too long in determining your goals, as you can come back later and revisit it after completing the next step.
Step 3: Formulate your value proposition
So far you have laid down the foundations of your brand and established your purpose, values and what you are aiming to achieve. In developing your value proposition, there are a number of things to consider. These include: Gaining an understanding of your market. Who your main competitors are. And who you will be talking to – in other words, who is your audience.
Core values & beliefs
Passions & interests
Skills & experience
Certifications & awards
Research you market
What you have chosen to do will become your niche, the specialist field in which you focus. Now is the time to research this market sector in detail, to understand what it’s all about. Examine things like market size, share, value, business drivers, geographies trends, forecasts and customers. Maybe you already know the market well, however, don’t be complacent. The chances are you haven’t analysed it in this way before. Any company that is launching a new brand, or is managing an existing one, constantly researches the market – your brand is no different.
Study your competitors
Just as you need to understand and define your market, you also need to know all the details you can about your competitors, an important part of positioning yourself as a brand. This will include companies, individuals within them, and known people within your industry, including thought leaders and bloggers.
In doing this, the chances are you’ll find yourself researching a large market, with a lot of competition. That’s perfectly fine, as it should reinforce to you the fact that you should be doing this anyway, as a way to differentiate yourself. On the other hand, if you find yourself in a new niche with very few competitors, it’s the perfect opportunity to make your mark and get yourself well known in a short space of time.
Having a personal brand, by definition, makes you individually unique. However, in all businesses, people buy from people, so don’t assume that your uniqueness is your differentiation. It’s a big part of it, but competitive positioning is essential. So the work you put into understanding your competition and carving out your personal space is a key component in reaching your audience.
Identity your audience
Now you understand more about the market, you must define your audience. Your niche will dictate who this is, but you need to understand as much as you can so you know how to communicate with them. Having researched the typical profiles within your market, your aim should be to build your audience persona. This persona will be a fictional representation of your preferred customer.
Empowered with the information you have about your market and your competitors, you can now position your brand with differentiation and create an offering that will meet your audience's needs, wants and desires.
When creating your value proposition it must be a short section of text that clearly defines what your brand stands for and why it exists. It should include what you offer, who your target audience is, how you are positioned against your competitors. It should reflect your brand’s purpose, creating clarity by focusing on its core elements that together create something compelling, distinctive and relevant.
These elements combined create your personal brand differentiators. A set of unique features and benefits that become the basis for how you establish and maintain your competitive advantage.
Step 4: Create your name and story
Deciding on a name
When deciding on your brand name there are two options that you have available for consideration. The first is to use your own personal name, and the second is to choose another name. To ensure you get this right, you need to have gone through the process of creating your value proposition.
Your brand name must stand for something, have meaning, and be able to grab people’s attention.
If you like your name, and it fits with who you are and what you stand for, then check its availability, get it registered and put it online. If it’s taken, try another domain name extension, but be sure to choose one relevant to your requirements. You can be a bit creative by adding a hyphen or initial to make it work. However, if you have a very popular name, think about adding another name. For example, johnsmithcopywriter.com – this could even be your preferred option.
Maybe using your name just isn’t the right approach, which could be the case for many reasons. In this instance, you need to choose a name that fits with who you are.
Try to make it timeless, tireless, easy to say and remember and make sure it is different from the competitors you have out there. If you go with this option, remember, this is still your personal brand, so it has to go hand-in-hand with your name. Your name should always underpin your brand, and over time become interchangeable in the eyes of your audience.
Create your messages
After defining your name and what you are as a brand, arguably the most important thing is what you say, and how you say it. Therefore messaging must be at the centre of everything you do, both in written and verbal form. Your brand’s messaging must become a consistent underlying value proposition that is applied to all your communications. It’s what will make people relate to you – by inspiring, persuading, and motivating them, attracting and ultimately having them as follows and customers. Start by defining what are the key messages you want to communicate.
Now you know what you say, you need to determine how to say it. Remember your brand is a reflection of you and your authenticity, so be true to your personality and characteristics, and don’t try to force it. Yes, you can emphasize some of your traits by weaving them into your brand’s personality, but do it naturally and in a way that is complementary to your messages and story.
Establish your voice
Where you have more control is when it comes to establishing your tone of voice. Your brand’s voice is its attitude, which means how your brand speaks to its audience. Combining personality and tone of voice creates your brand style that must remain consistent throughout all your communications.
Step 5: Create your visual identity
Your personal brand’s visual identity will be the most powerful way to capture attention and build brand recognition. It should reflect the essence of your brand, its value proposition and how you differentiate yourself against the competition. If done correctly, your brand identity will encapsulate everything your brand stands for, and want to convey to your audience.
Designing your logo
When it comes to designing a logo, most people make the mistake of doing it too early on. In fact, your personal brand’s descriptive characteristics should always precede any form of visual identity, so don’t attempt to create your logo until the previous points are completed.
When developing your logo design, your aim should be to make it simple, enabling it to be quickly decoded through the human eye. Typography, shapes, colours, and space must be combined to create a highly effective brand identity. Certain visual characteristics can be more prominent like its colour or boldness to reflect its attitude and personality.
Add a tagline
You should include a tagline, derived from your messaging that becomes an integral part of your logo, informing people of who you are and what you stand for.
Create your look and feel
In addition, a graphic style and colour palette should be developed to achieve the desired look and feel for your brand identity. This will include typography, photography, graphic images, icons and illustrations, which when combined, will visually represent your brand’s essence, values and personality.
Include some guidelines
Once completed, get at minimum some basic brand guidelines in place. These will form the standards and specifications of your brand’s visual and descriptive identity. Its purpose is to ensure consistency and brand integrity across all your communications.
Step 6: Develop your brand strategy
When developing your brand strategy, your primary focus should be to create visibility and awareness, therefore your focus should be based on the promotion of your brand. The key components of this will include a website and social networks.
A website is a must
Establishing your own website must be at the heart of your personal branding strategy. It will be something that you own and have full control over. Your website will become the central place where you showcase your brand identity, your story and your content. It must be well structured, have compelling messages and content and have a professional look and feel that creates impact and interest.
For your brand to be successful online, it must be highly recognisable, engaging and truly authentic, setting itself apart from the competition.
That first impression really counts, so your message must be clear, compelling and of value, so it grabs your audience’s attention. To achieve this, your home page must have a combination of content and graphics with a clear call to action. This will draw your audience in to find out more about you, and what you have to say or sell. Your call to action could be subscribing to your blog, registering for a free webinar, or a free consultation. Your content will include your value proposition and key messages. Graphics should include a combination of high-quality photos, images and icons.
Before starting on your website, document its structure, for example:
- Website structure
- About you or bio
- Companies you have worked for and experience
- Case studies
- Speaking engagements
- Blog, video or podcasts
- Contact information
- Calls to action and subscriber forms
Use social media
Social media is a cost-effective way to draw your audience to your website. There are many other options available to promote your brand online. For example; search engine marketing techniques like Google Adwords PPC (Pay Per Click) which is a very good way of increasing your website traffic. If you are selling online, consider these within your strategy. If not, content-driven marketing will be the best approach, that will help to promote your brand organically.
Take a good look at all the social media platforms out there, and determine where you are most likely to find your audience. Is it on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube or so on? Pick the ones where you will find your customers and register your brand there. Whichever social media sites you choose, be consistent and use the same username across all of them. If your brand name is taken, come up with another way of including it so that the search engines will pick up on it.
All social media accounts work differently. For example, Facebook has both a profile and a fan page. They both represent you in different ways and offer different features. It’s important to get to know your social platforms well to effectively manage your networking presence.
The messages and images you use across your social media platforms must be consistent and have the same look at feel as your website.
Set yourself objectives
Your brand strategy should include your key objectives, which are measurable steps that you need to take to implement what you have set out to accomplish. It should include what you need to get done and by when.
Step 7: Prepare your content plan
A well thought out content plan will help you to structure what you want to say and when you want to say it. When preparing a content plan you must place your audience at the centre of everything. The topics you want to cover, the problems you want to address, and the messages you want to convey. In doing this you will have the best chance of connecting with your audience in the best possible way.
Start by preparing the content for your website based on the structure you prepared in the preceding section. Remember to weave into your writing your value proposition and follow the brand identity you have created.
Next, start the planning for your blog and target how many posts you plan to send out over a twelve-month period. From this, you can work out how much time per month you need to spend writing content. Try to spread your posts evenly, but this may be driven by events or seasonal activities etc.
Your ultimate goal on social media should be to connect your brand’s visual image and message with your customer’s needs and desires, at the right time, and in the right place.
The number of posts you write will probably be a balance between what your competitors are doing and how much time you have available. However, the most important thing is the originality and the quality of your content. Timing can play a very important role, and that is why you need to plan ahead. Look for key events, product launches and so on, as well as keeping an eye market trends and issues.
Always be ready to capitalise on any opportunity that presents itself so that you can get your name out there.
Your content plan should start with your blog which becomes your primary source of information. Excerpts can be shared on social media sites, and always include a link back to your blog and website. Quotes can be taken and tweeted and photos can be posted on Instagram.
Step 8: Rollout your activities
After following these steps so far, you now have the building blocks in place to build your platforms and get yourself online:
- Your brand name
- Logo design and identity
- Value proposition and key messages
- The written contents for your website
- Social media profiles
- A content plan for your posts
- Key activity timeline
Build your website
Your website should be your first priority. Make sure you do your research and choose the right website platform, and hosting service. Always use https protocol over http. This adds an additional layer of security ensuring all communications between your browser and website are encrypted.
Add the pages, content and graphics to your website. If you have some experience and are doing this yourself, choose a themed package to help you with the layout. Don’t purchase an off-the-shelf theme without some advice. It could be full of plug-ins and features that you won’t use and that slow your website down.
Preparing your website at the front end with high-quality content and imagery is one thing, the other is how it will operate at the back end. This means your website must contain a good level of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This will improve web crawling and website content indexing. Understanding how you can optimise this is key as it will enable your website to rank well over time in search engine results pages.
Write your posts
When your website is launched, start writing your first posts. By getting them out on social media, you will begin to build a following. This can take time, and the more effort you put into this, the quicker you will see your results. As soon as you start to post, you need to gauge its effectiveness. As well as the feedback generated from the sites, send links out to your colleagues and industry contacts and ask for their feedback. This will help you to fine-tune your future posts. As you become more well known, your audience start to ask you to cover specific topics which all goes towards a deeper understanding of your customers.
Step 9: Maintaining your brand
By following a structured plan, you have the best possible chance of meeting and exceeding your goals. Over time, your goals will change; either they will become more ambitious, or change as you diversify or move onto other things. Whatever the future holds for you, maintaining your brand will ensure it always is a true reflection of you. With some careful attention, your brand will always remain true to you and your audience. And while jobs, companies and careers come and go, your brand will be there withstanding the test of time.
Keep things up to date
It’s important to always keep your content up to date. That includes all the pages to keep your website looking fresh and current, particularly as your popularity grows and people return again over time. Develop your website to include new pages, free information downloads and so on, to make it as interactive as possible, enhancing the user experience. Ensure that the SEO and all back end software, licenses, plugins are kept up to date.
If you’re doing this work yourself, spend some time keeping up to date with changes in search engines and social media platforms, as these things move at a rapid pace. Above all, keep up to date and in touch with your market, your competition and your audience.
Keeping your audience updated with what they need will help you to maintain your niche.
Developing your personal brand takes time and commitment, but once up and running, it can be relatively easy to maintain. The hard work you put in will be highly beneficial in giving you that competitive edge in our fast-moving digital world. Whether that’s over your peers, your career, job opportunities or as an entrepreneur.
Once your personal brand becomes established, it will bring many benefits. This starts with the shaping of your own story and goes on to the development of your sense of self, building your self-confidence along the way. By taking control of your narrative, you take control of yourself, your direction and your identity. Your online relationships will flourish, and opportunities will open up to you that would have never been possible before.
Download the Personal branding guide
To help you to develop your personal brand, we have produced a personal branding guide that will take you through the step-by-step process outlined within this post. As personal branding specialists, we also have tailored packages available to get you up and running in the shortest possible time frame.
If you have any questions or would like a free personal branding consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Published by Brandallagency.com