When we think of branding we usually think of products associated with a specific company – the iPhone and Apple, BigMac, and McDonald’s. However, today anything and anyone can be a brand. So, have you established your own yet?
Personal branding is about focusing on everything you stand for – the capabilities and character traits that make you unique, expressed in a way that anyone can instantly understand and remember. If you haven’t done that already, it’s time to start investing in your online presence, find opportunities to enhance your narrative, and leave the right impression on people who look you up.
In today’s look-at-me culture and the ever-evolving business landscape, standing out is not just helpful but necessary. If you aim to position yourself as an expert within your niche, then you need to establish a strong personal brand. Done right, it can help boost your reputation as an industry influencer and a leader. What is more, you can leverage it to score better clients and grow your business.
We understand that constructing a personal brand can be a challenging task. If you don’t know where to start, this article is perfect for you. So, read on to find out what are the seven key principles to elevate your online reputation.
1. Craft a Focused Message
The most successful personal brands are very specific – think Seth Godin. When you have a distinct message, that is also focused on your target audience, your brand will be more easily recognized, which can be beneficial in a couple of ways.
- On the one hand, it will help you create content that is consistent and relevant to your niche.
- And on the other hand, it can help you become memorable within your community.
Trying to be everything to everyone is an impossible mission to complete, and you shouldn’t make an attempt at it. Instead, you should decide what your key message is and then stick with it.
The more focused your personal brand is, the more effortlessly people will remember you. This way, when it comes to looking for expert advice and opinion, they’ll know who to turn to.
Read also: Building a Brand Identity: Essential Tips for Startups
2. Choose What You Want to Be Known For
In order to create a compelling personal brand, you need to decide what you want to ultimately be remembered and recognized for. What do you want your platform to stand for: Do you want to be the world’s go-to expert on a particular topic? Or do you want to be the pioneer of your niche?
There are different ways to go about answering the question of “What do I want to be known for?”.
- Research your competitors. Then decide how you want to differentiate yourself and where you wish to specialize. You can use the VRIN method here – i.e. what makes you Valuable, Rare, Inimitable, and Non-Substitutable.
- Evaluate your capabilities and talents. What are you most passionate about? Do you have any special gifts? What about any interesting, yet highly competitive skills?
- State your core values and beliefs. List them and think about how much they influence what you do?
- Describe your brand in 5 words. Think of five adjectives to describe your brand’s personality.
- Come up with a tagline. Find out what is the ultimate message you want your brand to share. Keep this short so it’s more memorable, like Nike’s Just Do It!
- Be authentic and genuine. Embrace everything that makes you unique and showcase it proudly and unapologetically.
The answers to such questions will help you clarify what makes you original and worth fanning over.
3. Create a Communications Plan
If you wish for your brand to be successful, you need to have a strong communication plan in place. To earn a good reputation, start to continuously share clear, consistent messages with your audience. In other words, you need an efficient communication strategy.
Because your brand is unique, your communications plan has to be unique as well. This means that it should be tailored to your audience, your brand personality, and your distinctive strengths. Most importantly, you need to connect with people and build an emotional link with them.
These are the five key elements of designing a communications plan for your personal brand:
- Connect to the right influencers. Get inspired by thought leaders you admire. Connect and collaborate with influencers in your space. Be open to getting to know and discovering new voices.
- Coordinate your social media profiles. Make sure to have a short bio and a quality picture of yourself. Be mindful of the type of audience each platform exposes you to, for example, LinkedIn is more formal by nature, while Facebook is more personal.
- Curate your content. Create evergreen content that adds value. Share frequently, but be mindful of the nature of the social media platform. For instance, on Twitter, you should share a few times a day, while on Linked you can share a few times a week.
- Write, schedule, share. Prepare as much content as possible in various formats – presentations, blog posts, videos, etc. Use an editorial calendar to help you stay organized and consistent.
- Interact with your community. Keep up with the overall communications in your niche. Like, share, and comment on topics that interest you. Engage with your followers by asking them to do the same with your own content.
Remember that when it comes to personal branding, there’s no one-size-fits-all type of solution. So, test and adjust to find what works best for you.
4. Create Your Own Website
There is something everyone can agree on in today’s Internet age: If you don’t control your online image, it will control you. While practically any person can create a personal website nowadays, for some professionals it definitely has its benefits.
If you want to make a great impression online, be it to land a big new client, promote a new project, show off your portfolio or connect with like-minded individuals, you absolutely need your own page.
Social media platforms are a wonderful brand asset, but they do come with some limitations as you don’t have complete control over everything. With your own site, however, you can have much more control over your content and over-positioning your business personality than if you didn’t. Additionally, a personal website allows people to build your audience and have them reach out to you directly.
We know that building a site for your personal brand is not an easy job. That is why we will break it down for you in five steps:
- Pick a website builder. There are plenty of tools to choose from. WordPress is the most popular one, with the added benefit of being able to hire a professional WordPress development agency to make sure your site is professionally built to satisfy your needs. Whichever platform you select, make sure your site is mobile-responsive, with fast loading speed and seamless navigation.
- Get yourself a personal domain name. Having a personal domain is essential, and if you don’t already own a personal domain name (e.g. firstnamelastname.sth) go online and buy it so you can save it.
- Create a branded email. It’s more professional to have your email match the domain of your own site.
- Write your webpage content. Make sure to include the following pieces and pages: an elevator pitch, a tagline, an about us page, links to your work, client testimonials, a contact us page, a blog, etc.
- Optimize your content for search and publish. Make sure your page is SEO-friendly and that all elements work well.
Setting up your site is the easier part. Once it’s live you need to ensure you use it strategically so you can achieve your goals successfully.
5. Tell Your Brand Story
Building an authentic narrative is the most effective personal branding tip to implement. To truly connect with people and have them love your brand you need to have a story they can experience. There are plenty of ways through which your audience can experience your brand and every element – from social media interactions to working with you – counts.
A compelling narrative can amplify your brand’s relevance and create a positive perception within your audience.
Here are a few actionable tactics to help you craft yours:
- Position your brand correctly. Know who you are and what makes you unique. Think about how you can help, how, in what ways that are different from your competition.
- Emphasize your unique traits. Communicate what makes you one-of-a-kind and why your audience belongs with you.
- Share your transformation. Tell your audience how your experiences and expertise have helped you come this far. Before crafting your tale, think about what you believe in and what limitations there are, then address them so they don’t get in the way.
- Include testimonials. By articulating how your services have actually helped transform someone else’s life, testimonials are a great way to add more depth to your story.
Keep in mind that even though this is your personal brand story it needs to be about your audience. It should revolve less around you and more around all the ways in which you can spot a problem for someone else, show empathy and solve it.
6. Build a Community and Make a Positive Impact
After you’ve established your personal brand, you need to continue building it over time, and the best way to do this is to grow a community around it. Branding is about sharing your story and inspiring like-minded people. When you build a community you create a space for your audience to be seen and heard by you in a unique way.
Here are five tactics to build your community and make a positive brand impact:
- Put in a consistent effort and be patient. Building a community doesn’t happen overnight. Be persistent and authentic, so you can build a long-lasting connection.
- Create a value-driven social media presence. Share content that enhances your followers’ lives while also engaging them.
- Treat your followers/subscribers like family. Let them get to know you. Share details on what you’re working on, communicate with them on a daily basis and address their concerns.
- Be confident and real. People can notice if you’re faking it, so ensure you’re genuinely involved in the process of building a relationship with them.
- Create and nurture a common belief. This is the whole point of building a community, and it revolves around cultivating shared values, engaging in a value-providing relationship, creating group activities, and an environment for growth, where everyone can improve together.
Remember that you are your brand no matter what happens in your personal and professional life. Always pay attention to the impact you leave on others. Keep a positive attitude, aim to help others, and see your brand grow in the long run.
7. Get Inspired by Successful Examples
To know whether your brand has a focused message that is communicated well, an authentic brand story, and is recognized for all the right things – an amazing website, strong social media presence, and community, why not learn from some outstanding personal brands out there.
Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, influencer, author, chairman of a media and communications company, and CEO of an advertising agency. Also known as Gary Vee, he’s been recognized as one of the most forward-thinking individuals in business.
Anne Handley is known as the queen of marketing content. She fights against marketing mediocrity and currently owns and manages MarketingProfs, with which she provides B2B marketing education programs and a large community for those hungry for knowledge.
In the Internet-dependent age we’re living in, a personal brand is not just a nice have anymore, it’s a must have. Whether you want to start a business, grow your current one, or win new clients, it is a powerful tool to have in your marketing toolbox.
There are a few key things to remember when crafting and strengthening your brand. Be aware of who you are, what you stand for, want to be known for, and have a core message to express this with. Don’t neglect the power of communication and leverage your online channels to tell your story and build a community.
Now that you know what it takes to build a personal brand, are you ready to develop yours?