When we think about building a brand, we may focus our attention more on the brand image of businesses. Personal branding is something everyone should also be giving attention to, however.
Think about some of the major celebrity personal brands. Beyonce Knowles and Oprah Winfrey instantly come to mind. It doesn’t necessarily matter what project they’re working on at any given time, but if their name is attached to it, it garners attention.
The same is true of legendary celebrities like Dolly Parton, who has catapulted her personal brand into enormous businesses, including theme parks, dinner shows, nonprofits, and more.
So what is it that sets some people apart as far as how they build their personal brand? How can you replicate some of the things successful people do well to create their brand?
Below we delve into what everyone should know about their own brand, regardless of their industry.
What Is a Personal Brand?
First, what do we mean when we talk about a personal brand? A personal brand is more important than ever in our highly digital world, where Googling your name can bring up an enormous amount of information.
Your personal brand is how you promote yourself, and it includes your experience, skills, and personality. This combination is unique to you, and it’s the story of you. Your personal brand is how you set yourself apart from other people and ensure that you differentiate what you bring to the table.
You can tie personal branding in with business branding when you’re strategic.
Your personal brand is what you want people to see and think of about you. It’s how you really come across in daily life, how you’re portrayed in the media and the impression that people get when they search for you online.
Developing a personal brand is something that you might not put any work into, and it happens organically, but that puts it outside of your control. You can also actively work to build your brand.
Either way, it’s going to exist, so people often feel they’re better off when they’re in control of the narrative surrounding who they are.
Personal branding is an important part of your career and who you are in a professional sense because this is how current and future clients will see you. Taking control of your brand is going to help make sure that these people see you in the way that you want.
When you leave it up to chance, they could end up seeing you in a negative light.
The Importance of Personal Branding
Consumers are incredibly discerning in the digital era. They want to work with people and businesses that they feel they connect with, they “know,” and that are trustworthy.
When you have a strong personal brand, people are going to feel like they see the individual, and they can form a connection with them.
Think about the role influencer marketing has taken on in the past ten years. Influencer marketing is entirely built on the concept of a personal brand. People trust influencers and feel like they get to know them, so when they recommend products or services, it carries a certain weight.
With your brand, you can create a strong relationship with your audience before you ever try to give them a business-related message.
Particular reasons you need to put effort into building a personal brand include:
- You can show your value. You’re also able to showcase your abilities and skills, and you’re showing that you have worth as an authority and expert in your field.
- Your brand image shows what you value.
- raises your visibility as a commodity outside of your business.
- As you work to cultivate your personal brand, it gives you a sense of purpose and direction that you can use to build your career. It gives you a roadmap of who you want to be and where you want to go. Along with building a brand, you can integrate the goals that you want to achieve as well. You can find a path to achieving those goals through the creation of your brand.
- Branding helps you advance your career. You’re setting yourself apart from the competition and crafting a unique value proposition for who you are as an individual.
- If you’re a business owner, your personal brand can be what people recognize before your business brand. For example, think about Elon Musk and Tesla. The brand of Elon Musk is at the forefront more so than Tesla, and the businesses Musk heads up seem to be built more around his personal branding than anything else.
- When you have a strong personal brand, it can help you weather difficult times. For example, if you lose your job, you already have something strong to fall back on in your brand.
Elements of a Successful Personal Brand
While it can be somewhat different for everyone, typically, some of the core elements of a successful personal brand include:
- Authenticity—If your personal brand has nothing else, it should have authenticity. As we touched on, consumers don’t just want authenticity. They demand it. Authenticity is one of the most difficult things to achieve, however. You don’t want it to seem contrived, and figuring this out is tough, but once you do it, it’s powerful.
- Unique perspective—your personal brand is about your unique point of view. So many people want to be heard, but you can set yourself apart simply by having a perspective that’s your own. You can have strong opinions, and you stay true to those as well as your core message.
- Consistency—you need to show up on a consistent basis to build your personal brand. Social media and influencer marketing is a good example of this. The most successful influencers are always showing up. Their audience knows what they can expect from them in terms of content, and it’s a huge part of their brand.
- Storytelling—people want to work with or buy from individuals they know and trust. When you use storytelling, you’re creating an emotional connection, and you’re resonating with your audience in that unique way that shows them who you are.
- Expertise—you should zero in on what you know well in addition to what you’re passionate about. You want to become the ultimate authority in whatever your area is.
- Connections—your personal brand is primarily about you, but it’s also about the people you know and the relationships you build.
How Can You Build a Personal Brand That Reflects You?
While the process to build a personal brand is extensive and long-term, the following are things to keep in mind as you get started.
- Begin to build your personal brand by thinking about what your emotional appeal will be. Start with features of your personality. Consider how you make people feel when they’re around you and the words they often use to describe you. You can also consider how people benefit from working with you and what people like about working with you.
- If you’re just beginning to build a personal brand, you may not know who you are. Do some brainstorming. What motivates you? What do you feel passionate about? What do people compliment you on? What can you work on for long periods of time without feeling tired or drained? On the other hand, what quickly drains your energy?
- Come up with a quick description of yourself. Think about both how you believe other people perceive you and how you want to be perceived. This description should be a few sentences, and it’s like an elevator pitch of yourself. You can integrate your field or work into and think about your target audience as you’re crafting the description.
- If you don’t already have an idea of who your targeted audience is, it’s a good time to give it some thought. Is your audience going to be someone at a company where you’d like to get a job, or are you building a small business? Are you a freelancer who wants to get new clients? You need to have a clear idea of how you’re speaking to.
- What is your function? What do you offer to people, and how do you do it in a way that sets you apart from others?
- Consistently work toward mastering your craft. You have to realize that even if you have an idea of what your personal brand should be or what you want it to be, you also have to put in the work.
Once you’ve taken some of the steps above, you can start to make a more concrete brand and grow your online presence. You can use social media, create a personal blog, or set up a portfolio site.
Remember, you don’t build a personal brand overnight. It takes time, but you do have to start somewhere. Then, as you advance in your business or your career, your personal brand will thrive and start to take on a momentum of its own.