In today’s digital age, personal branding has become increasingly important, especially during times of crisis. While many people are familiar with the concept of a business brand, personal branding is often overlooked. However, in a world where everything we do online can have a lasting impact, it is crucial to carefully curate and manage our own personal brand.
Whether it’s through social media, professional networking, or personal interactions, building a strong personal brand can help us stand out, establish credibility, and navigate through challenging situations.
In this article, we will look at some qualities and tips for personal branding. Before we do that, we will dive into what personal branding is and why it is indispensable to have it as part of an overall marketing strategy.
What is a personal brand?
A person’s personal brand is how they promote themselves. It is the telling of their story and how it reflects their actions, words, and attitudes. They want the world to see them for their unique skills, experience, and personality.
People typically use personal branding to distinguish themselves from others. When done correctly, they can integrate their personal branding with their business in ways that they cannot do with corporate branding.
Professionally, a personal brand is an image that audiences have of an individual. It could be a combination of how they perceive them in real life, how the media presents them, and the impression people form based on online information about them.
People can choose to ignore their personal brand and let it develop organically, and possibly even chaotically, beyond their control. Alternatively, they can help massage it to portray them as the person they want to be.
Before the internet, a personal brand was essentially a business card. Few people would have heard of someone unless they were well-known in the media or served prominently as the face of advertising. Personal brands are far less anonymous in today’s highly public world, where every little action is discussed at length on social media.
Why is having a personal brand important?
There are multiple reasons why having a personal brand is essential, regardless of whether a person is an entrepreneur or an employee.
1) You are being judged
Did you realize that you already have a personal brand? What’s more, you’re being judged on it.
Not having an online presence can be just as damaging to a business as being connected to controversial topics. It is no longer sufficient to have your company’s name on Google. People will rush to the About section of your company’s website to find out who owns it and why they should trust them as the “expert.” People will judge you if they can’t find a personal and relatable story related to your business.
As an entrepreneur, you can do two things to showcase your brand positively. To begin, harness the power of social media by taking control of your personal brand and utilizing your platform to demonstrate your knowledge. Invest in an excellent individual branding photographer so that your images convey that you mean business, even if they appear “trivial” on your Instagram page. Likewise, consult a logo design company for a brandmark that gives the idea of your business and industry to your followers.
It’s perplexing why people still avoid social media. Promoting your brand on social media platforms such as Instagram would be best. After all, 1 billion people log in here each month. These platforms have been demonstrating their value to businesses for over a decade. Moreover, it’s free advertising—you’re losing out on so much by not using this platform.
According to Sprout Social, Instagram users spend more than an hour per day on the platform as of 2022. On the other hand, Facebook users spend approximately an hour per day on Facebook. These metrics show you just how much power your personal brand has on social media. It’s time to put it to use.
Another reason personal branding is essential is that recruiters increasingly use social media during interviews. A CareerBuilder survey found that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% use it to check in on current employees. Personal branding is also advantageous from the standpoint of the employer. Employees should be encouraged to develop strong, unique brands by their employers because it is good for business. Employees who are allowed to represent their company at conferences or events not only develop themselves but also increase the organization’s exposure. Employees who are perceived as trustworthy thought leaders can help acquire new customers and retain existing ones.
2) Can help build your reputation as an industry expert
Building on what we’ve just discussed, your personal brand is your opportunity to position yourself as an industry expert.
For example, if you’re an author looking to sell a book, a great way to do so is to use your social presence to teach others how to write or develop characters. You can even teach them the business side of publishing a book. By doing this, you can build an audience that trusts you as an expert. This, in turn, can boost book sales (aka your business). Jenna Moreci, a YouTuber and author, is an excellent example. She has 200K YouTube subscribers and teaches aspiring authors how to write a good book and self-publish. Along with her exceptional writing abilities, this is most likely what propelled her to the status of a best-selling (self-published) author.
Consider another example. Assume you are the founder of a startup. You’ve developed the next great service app that will outperform ideas that have previously existed. How will you persuade people that this new app is the best thing since sliced bread?
Spoiler alert: it will not be possible through your company’s brand.
When you promote your business brand and discuss its key features and usefulness, you are only promoting. Your customers will not react positively to this at first.
People will easily consume your story if you, as the founder, build your own space and brand to display your expertise in the tech industry.
Your personal brand replaces tedious business promotional material with genuine, heartfelt experiences. You can use your personal brand platforms to teach others in your industry how you “made it” and to share your struggles and turn them into “teachable moments” for your customers.
In turn, those same people will be anticipating the release of your book or app. They’ve been watching you plan your journey since the beginning. They now regard you as the expert and are eager to assist you in ensuring your efforts are rewarded.
3) Is indicative of how you do business
A well-thought-out marketing strategy should always include a business plan. When you’re launching a book or an app, you might consider building an email list, hiring a social media manager, or running PPC campaigns to spread the word.
This is a necessary step, but in the eyes of investors, the press, and clients, it is theoretical. If you’re an author looking for a book deal, you’ll have more negotiating power if you can demonstrate that you already know how to market effectively to an audience.
Should you want to look professional in the eyes of your industry, using your brand to pre-build interested consumers reflects how you conduct business. A book publisher will see that as almost guaranteed sales if you already have your own author platform (ideally, a large and engaged audience). As a result, they’ll be more willing to invest in your novel because you’ve demonstrated your ability to manage yourself as a business owner. They can rely on you to market your brand and your company.
Being loyal to your brand shows that you understand and value the steps in starting and running a business. People will notice that you are open to criticism and willing to put yourself out there. Similarly, it demonstrates that you are knowledgeable about marketing your business because you have used it to market yourself as an industry voice.
On the other hand, neglecting your personal brand can put you in a negative light. Remember that people are already passing judgment on you. If you don’t provide any free value (i.e., industry advice in the form of blogs, videos, emails, or social media captions), if you don’t have any press features, or if you’re inconsistent with your content strategy, people will lose trust in you.
4) Boosts the interests of everyone
We touched on this briefly in the previous section, but let us review how your brand affects your business and overall career.
Let’s return to the example of the startup founder. We’ll assume that you and your team have created an excellent prototype for your product. You’ve developed your business plan and marketing strategies and are now ready to present your concept to investors.
Before agreeing to a meeting, investors will research the founder of this business concept or product idea. They will be far less interested if they can’t find anything about your experience or pre-marketing ethics.
The same is true for journalists. You most likely have a public relations strategy to coincide with your startup’s launch, but a journalist will research the founder to validate your credibility. If they can’t find anything about you, they might not want to feature your company, no matter how carefully crafted your digital footprint is.
Think about your clients or potential employers. They are all interested in the person behind the business. Again, people are more interested in the characters (your personal brand) than the plot (your product). People become disengaged from a product when they cannot see who is pulling the strings.
When you tell your story through your brand, you elicit the trust that people need subconsciously before they buy from you. That cannot be accomplished through a business brand model.
Types of personal brands
Personal branding isn’t just one of many marketing strategies that can help you succeed. It is about how your target audience perceives your brand and you as a person. When developing a brand, you should take the task seriously and select the type of personal branding most familiar to you. It will later influence the impression and perception of your company. To do so, you must first understand the six main types of personal brands.
Connectors are passionate about bringing people together and building communities. These opinion leaders enjoy communicating with the audience and gathering as many people as possible around them. They are warm, caring, inventive, and open-minded.
This category includes brands that are only available to certain demographics. They only share information with specific audiences. Selectives look for engaging, high-quality, and informative content to distribute to particular groups of people.
The accomplishments of careerists are their top priority. They go out of their way to reach them, sharing information to help them level up and demonstrate their expertise. They are opinion leaders. They have the knowledge and skills that people rely on. Elon Musk and Simon Senek are two well-known examples.
Altruists are dedicated to assisting others. They run foundations or charities that help those in need. They devote their time and energy to improving the lives of others. They help cure diseases, protect and support women who have experienced harassment, abuse, and inequality, assisting homeless people, and so on. Oprah Winfrey supports education for women and children, and Marlo Thomas donates to children’s cancer research.
True hipsters value distinctive individuality. Hipsters combine the traits of careerists and altruists, but unlike these branding types, they do not act. They prefer to communicate with their audience. Such brands are contemporary, trendy, and one-of-a-kind.
Boomerangs disseminate controversial information that sparks debate. Their content is frequently unexpected, controversial, and provocative. News reporters are boomerang brands as well.
Tips for creating an effective personal brand in 2022
1) Find your brand
Personal branding calls for everything that a traditional brand requires. Understand why you want a unique brand in the first place. Also, be specific about your target market. Don’t settle for a broad field like content writing.
Rather, choose a specific niche, such as writing technical blogs for enterprise-level tools. Design your brand kit, which should include a logo, color scheme, and font. When you combine all these elements, you should have a distinct and memorable brand kit that people will remember.
Coming up with the components required to create a brand kit and other content is entirely up to you and your aesthetic. At the same time, sometimes hiring professionals to compile all the information in a newsworthy manner can facilitate the process.
PR agencies like Pressfarm help clients create newsworthy content like email pitches, press releases, guest posts, and press kits distributed to appropriate media professionals and influencers. Furthermore, their Account Executive will create a custom media list for clients from their database of over one million media contents, allowing them to reach their best media match.
2) Set an objective
Do not begin working on brand development unless you have specific goals in mind. It not only reflects your current skills but also represents the goals you want to achieve.
You can find the niche where you want to see yourself succeeding by assessing your strengths and weaknesses using the SWOT method. This analysis will help you recognize your unique skills and traits and show you where you need to improve to advance in your career.
3) Find your target audience
Another essential factor to consider before beginning personal branding is your target audience. Not everyone will be interested in your brand; unfortunately, you can’t impress everyone. So, decide whom you need to persuade and begin crafting your story for clients, recruiters, or business owners.
Once you’ve determined your target audience, you’ll know which platforms to use for branding. If you’re about to start a business, social media and email marketing can help you build your brand. You can create a portfolio website to attract clients, but professional networking will help you land your dream job.
4) Create a framework
After determining the above points, you can begin developing your brand strategy or framework. It would help to choose your branding story based on your audience and expertise.
Determine your top qualities that add value to your work. Finding a practical brand framework takes time, effort, and an understanding of your personality. Only when you demonstrate how you and your skills benefit your clients will they begin to pay attention.
5) Ensure brand visibility
Your brand should be visible for an audience to be aware of it. There is no better way to attract attention than to be present online. Having your website will serve as your portfolio while also increasing your credibility.
Optimize your website by including all necessary elements and making it responsive. When designing your website, use any trendy color scheme that complements your brand.
You can also use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to increase your brand’s visibility. Use eye-catching graphics in your social media posts to entice people to stop and read while scrolling. You can also boost brand visibility by participating in forums.
6) Research and understand industry icons
There is no one-size-fits-all rule regarding personal branding, and different people can achieve success through various methods. Before developing your branding strategy, conduct extensive research on the experts in your target niche to learn how they approach things.
However, don’t blindly follow the niche experts. Analyze their approaches and make the necessary changes to create your own branding blueprint. Remember, your goal with personal branding is to be distinctive. To accomplish this, combine your creativity and personalization with successful strategies from the experts.
7) Create an elevator pitch
Personal branding should not be limited to online channels. Brand yourself whenever possible during face-to-face interactions, such as any formal or informal gathering, networking event, or seminar. Take some time to prepare an elevator pitch for this purpose.
It should convey your story, which includes who you are, what you do, your strengths, and your goals for the future. Keep it brief and to the point, as you should be able to deliver the pitch in 30 to 60 seconds. Concentrate on the key issues and skills that will benefit your clients. If you want, you can also record it and use it as a video intro on your website and social channels.
8) Get endorsements
Rave reviews attesting to your expertise, hard work, and punctuality will help your brand gain credibility and trust. Request endorsements from former and current managers, colleagues, clients, and professors on your website and professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Tell them to include specific examples of work or projects you completed for them. In addition, they can highlight your skills and competencies when recommending you.
You can also request endorsements from other LinkedIn contacts. LinkedIn is a globally trusted platform, and recommendations made on it will quickly pique the interest of potential clients and employers.
9) Create an online presence
You must have a solid online presence to establish yourself as a brand in this age of digital communication and social networking. People should be able to communicate with you online whether or not you are looking for work.
Instead of marketing yourself on social media, 80% of your content should be informative. Be present on all available social media platforms where your target audience can see you. Check your direct messages regularly to see if anyone is trying to contact you.
You can also register with various online directories as this increases online visibility. A separate business email will help establish your brand as a professional.
10) Build a community
Your blog or social media profile should serve as a forum for people to share their problems and solve problems that others are experiencing. As a result, people can share their experiences and learn from one another. Only when you have an engaged community following can you become a brand.
You can also participate in webinars or go live on your preferred niche from your social profile. Responding to comments on your posts will also help you gain followers.
Your personal brand distinguishes you from the crowd. Personal branding allows you to demonstrate your skills and strengths to current and potential clients. The key to developing a successful brand and becoming truly influential is consistently showing up and being so good at telling your story that people have no choice but to do business with you.