Steven J Wilson
When you Google your name, what do you find?
Is it something that will help you land clients, close important deals, or attract potential customers to your business? If the answer is no, then you need to think about personal branding.
Personal branding is the conscious effort of improving how the public perceives you. If you’re running a business, a strong personal brand can help you rise to success in surprising ways.
That said, it’s time to take the reins of your personal brand now so you can control your narrative. And if you need help to get started, you’ve come to the right place.
Here, we’ll walk you through the fundamentals of a strong personal brand so you can develop a solid strategy for establishing your online reputation.
By the time you reach the end of this personal branding guide, you’ll have a strong understanding of what personal branding is, why it is important, and how you can successfully build a personal brand.
What is Personal Branding?
Personal branding is the practice of promoting yourself to the public. It is a marketing technique that influences how people perceive you as an individual.
In this strategy, you communicate certain qualities to your target audience. These qualities are what you want people to associate with you. They sum up your experience, skills, core values, principles, and purpose as a personal brand.
Think of Michelle Obama. Beyond her stint as the former first lady, people remember her for her authenticity and integrity. She still has that strong influence and public trust even after her husband, Barack, stepped down from office.
The same goes for Oprah Winfrey, who’s also known for her genuineness that she kept consistent throughout her career. Then, there’s Richard Branson of Virgin Group, whose unconventional stunts launched him to superstar status.
What do these individuals have in common? They have effectively communicated their qualities and core values to attract people. They all embraced their own personal brand.
You might be thinking, “But all these people are already prominent and successful individuals. Can someone like me have his own personal brand?”
There was a time when brands were only for a select few. Before, branding only mattered to large companies, celebrities, athletes, and famous people.
But this is not the case anymore.
Now, everyone can have a personal brand. Instead, it’s crucial to manage one’s brand and turn it into a strength. This is especially true for founders of a startup, executives, and entrepreneurs who want to grow their business.
In the next section, find out why you should think of your personal brand now.
Why is Personal Brand Important?
Today, consumers have become more critical than ever. Their trust in business brands continues to go down in the past years. This proves to be a challenge for business owners like you.
Now that the public trusts people more than a business brand, having a personal brand is key in converting them into paying customers.
A personal brand is crucial if you want to be known in your field.
With personal branding, you can position yourself as the go-to expert in your industry. When people look up to you as an authority, they will come to you to solve their problems. And that means business.
You can also attract potential investors and clients as you become a thought-leader in your industry. And since consumers are more willing to pay for experts they believe in, you can even charge premium prices for your products and services.
Hence, if you’re running a business and want to improve your reach, gain the people’s trust, and boost your sales, you need to build your personal brand now.
To help you grow your business, we’ll walk you through the process of creating a personal brand in the following sections.
Getting Started: Personal Branding Questions You Need to Answer
Branding a person can be a challenge when you’re not clear about the things that make your brand uniquely you. Before you get your name out there, ask yourself these questions to give your personal branding journey a clear direction.
What are your goals for your personal brand?
Would you like to be known in your industry or local community? Do you want to build trust? Or maybe, you need to boost your sales?
Setting your goals helps you be clear on what you want to achieve with personal branding. It also helps motivate you, so you’ll keep moving toward success.
What value do you offer?
What are you good at and are passionate about? In what ways can you help your audience?
This gives people a reason why they should care about the person as a brand. Hence, determine the value you offer that you want to communicate with others.
Whom are you trying to help?
If your content is for everyone, then it is for no one.
Be specific with the set of people you intend to help. Who is your target audience? What are their wants, needs, and problems that you can offer a solution with?
What sets your personal brand apart?
Determine the unique selling proposition that makes you stand out.
Do you have certain qualities and skills that allow you to work more effectively than the competition? List down all of them.
How will you communicate your value to others?
Do you want to address your audience formally or casually? Friendly or authoritative? Entertaining, helpful, or informative?
Your brand voice can make an impact on your audience. So, identify the brand voice that best reflects your personality.
Where will you connect with your target audience?
LinkedIn is arguably the most important platform to build a personal brand. It’s a channel for professionals who want to build authority in their respective fields.
But aside from LinkedIn, what other platforms do your audience use? Identify them and establish your online presence there.
What will you do to position yourself as a leader in your industry?
Are you involved in speaking engagements? Do you have time to maintain a blog? Can you author a book?
There are plenty of strategies to build your name out there. Determine what you can do to position yourself as a thought-leader in your field.
What are other successful people in your industry doing that you are not?
What topics do your successful peers cover? What type of content do they publish? Which posts are getting the most engagements?
Determine the best practices in your niche that you can follow as you build your personal brand.
Are you connecting with like-minded professionals?
Can you identify established professionals in your field? Are you engaging with them?
Reach out to like-minded individuals and interact with them to boost your reputation. It’s also an instant exposure to their set of followers.
Are you moving close to your goal with your current activities?
As you start building your personal brand, monitor your progress. Are your strategies working? Which activities performed best, and which do you need to scrap in your strategy?
Have key metrics to measure the progress and success of your branding efforts.
Building a Personal Brand: 9 Actionable Steps
Once you have answered all the essential questions on our checklist, it’s time to put up the pieces together. Follow our step-by-step action plan below to guide you in building a personal brand.
Step #1: Define your branding goals
As we mentioned above, goal setting is key to achieving what you want with personal branding. It helps establish a clear path, identify the challenges of building a personal brand, and motivate you to keep moving forward on your journey.
But what do these personal branding goals exactly look like?
Marketing Nuts founder Pam Moore discussed the top 7 personal branding goals in her podcast, which include:
- Increasing brand awareness of your business
- Establishing authority in your industry
- Generating more leads
- Boosting your sales
- Decreasing the sales cycles
- Connecting with influencers
- Building a community
When building a personal brand, think about which goals you want to achieve. Having a specific goal in mind lets you create more focused and effective personal branding content.
Step #2: Determine your value
Previously, you asked yourself what value do you offer. It’s time to put the answer on paper.
You should be able to say what your brand is all about in 20 words or less. To make this, list down the things you are most passionate about. These can be things you’re good at, something you love doing, or things you are most confident to work on.
Then, trim down the list to the top three passions you can offer to help others.
This will serve as your value that you communicate to your target audience.
Step #3: Identify your audience
Don’t write for everybody. Based on your value, determine who your target audience is.
These people that you should be targeting include:
- Those who will pay you
- Those who will influence the person who pays you
- Those who will benefit from your message
Then, create a buyer persona for each individual. A buyer’s persona describes who your ideal customers are. The more detailed the persona is, the better.
Creating focused content based on these personas allows you to connect with your audience on a deeper level.
Step #4: Define your brand voice
Being genuine makes your brand as human as possible. This helps you connect better with your audience. But how do you make your brand authentic?
By defining your brand voice.
Your brand voice is how you communicate with your audience. It contains the language you use, the tone you speak, your purpose, and the character you aim to invoke in your content.
Image from Social Media Explorer
Your brand voice plays a big part in how effective your brand message will be. Be sure to decide how your brand will sound when you start branding online.
Once you’re clear with your value, your audience, and your brand voice, it’s time to develop your personal branding statement.
Step #5: Develop your branding statement
A personal branding statement is a short sentence that sums up what your brand is all about. It is an essential piece that conveys the value you provide to your audience and why should they care about you.
Your personal branding statement is one of the first things that your audience will see when they check your brand. Thus, it’s vital that you take your time in creating a compelling statement.
When creating your statement, make sure it is clear and concise, about 1-2 sentences. It should also include your value and is directed toward your audience. It also pays to be authentic.
If you want to be inspired and get your creative juices flowing, check out our list of fantastic personal branding statement examples here.
Step #6: Build your presence online
The next step is finally building your presence online.
In this phase, you have to sort out the social media platforms that will be relevant to your personal brand. These are the platforms where your audience thrives.
Social media is an excellent place to start. For those who want to establish thought-leadership, LinkedIn is one platform that you shouldn’t miss.
Aside from social media, you should also build or upgrade your personal website. While social media networks are helpful, don’t just rely on these third-party platforms. These social networks may lose their popularity one day along with the effort you invested in them.
On the contrary, a website is a platform that you own and have full control of. This platform allows you to establish your presence and continue to be relevant in the long-term.
As you go along your personal branding journey, you will also need to go beyond owned media to strengthen your online presence. This involves features in prominent media like Forbes, Entrepreneur, or even your local news sites.
Step #7: Create focused personal branding content
Now that you have set up your social media accounts and website, it’s time to work on the meat of your brand: content.
Content is a powerful tool in establishing your brand. A well-thought content plan wins people’s trust.
Through the content you’ll make, you can demonstrate your expertise and position yourself as an authority in the field. It also helps connect people within the industry and build community.
Most importantly, content offers solutions to the problems of your target audience.
That’s why it’s important that you identify your audience and their pain points. By doing so, you are narrowing down the topics to come up with a pool of ideas that are focused on helping your followers.
Also, remember that the key here is being authentic, consistent, and helpful with the content you make.
Step #8: Build relationships within your industry
Don’t just post content and move on working on a new one.
It is important that you reach out in your industry so you can get found online. But how?
You can start with simple networking. Commenting on other people’s posts or sharing someone else’s content can go a long way. This is especially true on LinkedIn, where posts soliciting conversations reach more people.
From there, you can take the conversation to one-on-one interaction. Take a look at this example when you interact with others on social media platforms.
Just keep in mind to always be helpful when interacting with others. It’s the secret to creating valuable relationships within your industry.
Step #9: Monitor your progress
As you work on building your personal brand, make sure that your strategy is working. This is one crucial step that many personal brands often overlook.
To measure your success, set key performance indicators (KPIs) as you determine your personal branding goals. These KPIs will tell you what works and when do you need to adjust your strategy.
Some tangible metrics that can determine your success include:
- The number of your followers
- Engagement, especially comments on your posts
- Page visits
- Mention of your name on social media
- Sales growth
Strengthen Your Brand with These Personal Branding Strategies
With our personal branding guide above, you should be able to start working on your brand. But we’re not done yet.
In the previous section, you asked what other successful people in your industry are doing that you are not.
Here, discover the secret to the success of an established personal brand. Find out what other activities you can do beyond your current role that will help propel your name to prominence.
1. Write a book. If you’re looking to boost your credibility, authoring a book is the way to go. Many established brands have authored a book to demonstrate their knowledge in their respective fields.
2. Speaking gigs. The best-known experts share their knowledge in front of a large audience. Seek speaking opportunities in your local associations or start a podcast to boost your authority.
3. Interviews. Aim to be the go-to person for local news outlets regarding concerns about your industry. Leverage sites like HARO (Help a Reporter) to improve your chance of getting interviewed, showcasing your expertise.
4. Social media. Getting personal on social media gives a human face to your business brand.
5. Maintain a blog. Blogging is one way to demonstrate your expertise consistently. Whether you publish an article daily, weekly, or monthly, make sure that the topics you cover are helpful and relevant to your audience.
6. Email marketing. As your blog gains new visitors, you have to turn them into loyal–and paying–customers. Email marketing helps you build this loyal following.
7. SEO. In many cases, people find solutions to their problems in search engines like Google before seeking professional help. Maximize this opportunity to connect with these people by optimizing your content for SEO.
8. Outreach. Outreach strategies like guest posting do not only expose you to a wider audience outside your platforms. These also create links to your site, which is great for SEO and your visibility.
9. Partnerships. Partnering with a fellow expert can also be beneficial to your brand. You get to tap another thought-leader’s resources instantly and widen your reach.
Things to Remember When Building a Personal Brand
Finally, here are other important tips to solidify your personal branding efforts.
1. Be yourself. Being your authentic self is the key to convey your message effectively. Find your brand voice and inject your personality as you develop your content.
2. Get good at telling stories. Your stories are what make you unique. Learn the craft of telling your stories while keeping your audience involved. It’s all about balance.
3. Post content regularly. Consistency is key. Create a content schedule so your followers have something to look forward to every time they visit your profiles.
4. Get out of your comfort zone. Learn how to write, get involved in speaking engagements, or learn SEO. The most established personal brands did more beyond their existing roles to get noticed by the public.
5. Stay on topic. Always tie back your post to your core topic, even if you post about your personal life on your social networks.
6. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Learn from established brands and use their example as a guide in developing your own strategy.
7. Get others talking about you. Actively ask for feedback and reviews from past clients. Their words speak volumes about your skills and values, boosting your credibility.
8. Use personal branding tools. Tools make the personal branding task a lot easier. Check out our list of affordable and easy to use personal branding tools here.
Personal Branding Examples
To motivate you further, here are three examples of individuals that are killing it with personal branding. Get inspired by their journey as you build your brand in your respective field.
Brian Dean is a name that rings a bell to big companies and fellow SEO experts alike in the internet marketing world.
Brian built his popularity around his credibility.
In a world full of SEO “experts,” companies struggle to find someone who can actually deliver results. Brian Dean stands out because he positions himself as a reliable SEO expert.
Visit his site Backlinko, and you’ll find well-thought-out content and testimonials from real people to prove his expertise. And there are no sketchy ads to boot.
What Brian Dean Teaches Us: To build a personal brand, you need to build trust.
Elon Musk is one of the most admired tech leaders today. As the founder and CEO of Tesla, his personal branding has helped the car brand rise to popularity in recent years.
But how did he do it?
He gets personal on social media.
While most execs are still hesitant to build their personal branding on social, Elon Musk defies this trend. He is not afraid to share his opinions, personality, and crazy antics on his channels.
In return, his public popularity has helped spread the word about his company more effectively than Tesla’s advertising.
It just goes to show how tying a face to a company brand can work wonders.
What Elon Musk Teaches Us: Personal branding can beat company branding.
Lewis Howes was a professional athlete who found a new career as a lifestyle entrepreneur. If you’re following the guy, you’ll know how he went from playing football, suffering an injury, to creating a lifestyle business.
He uses his personal experience to teach people how to start a lifestyle business around their interests. Listen to his self-development podcast, The School of Greatness, and you’ll get to know how inspiring this man is.
What Lewis Teaches Us: Inspire with your personal story.
When you take the reins of your personal brand, you control your narrative. You have the power over how people see you. You allow your brand to grow in a way that’s favorable to you and your business.
That said, it’s high time you work on your personal branding today. The guide above should help you get started on your journey. But if you need more guidance, consider hiring a personal branding consultant.
A personal branding consultant lets you save time, money, and energy, building your reputation online.
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