No matter what product or service you are looking to sell, your personal branding is the most important selling point. It’s your very own business card.
How you present yourself to the world is critical towards your success. Look at some of the biggest names in the game – Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Susan Wojcicki, Elon Musk, Bill Gates – not only are they instantly recognisable, but so are their products and what they stand for.
When you establish positive personal branding, a number of benefits will come with it. You will engender trust from your audience base, you will have a much higher perceived value and you will stand apart from your competition. People will regard you as their go-to brand when they are seeking the goods or services you are selling, you will position yourself as a thought leader and you will be regarded as an expert in your field. If you’re a writer, building a personal brand like this is even more important – it will grant you that credibility you need to leverage opportunities.
Put simple, building your personal brand is your key to success, no matter which industry you are in. In this guide to personal branding, we explore all of the key steps that go into personal branding and how you can establish a popular and successful personal brand of your own.
A guide to getting to know yourself in order to create an elevator pitch
The first step is the most important and it involves a journey of self-discovery to determine your exact personality types. You’ll need to assess both online and offline traits that you frequently adopt. This is crucial for your niche and towards understanding your broader personal brand vision.
Get to know your core values
These will underpin everything that you do in life and all of your motivations. You need to know where you stand on key issues and what is important for you.
Undertake a SWOT analysis to start building your personal traits arsenal. This stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This gives you a holistic view of your personality, including your vulnerabilities and what threatens you, so you can understand how to react when times are tough. Even the most pro branding experts go through this process; without it, they’re not able to effectively get started. By taking these precautions first, you’ll give yourself long term success by creating the type of content that suits your personality and your potential clients.
Then it is time to discover which of these five personality types you are:
Open: This means you are more the creative type, imaginative and curious. These are the sort of people that love art exhibitions, being in nature and thrive on learning and new experiences. Usually intellectual, sometimes a non-conformist. Those who are not open are the more down-to-earth, straight-down-the-middle conventional types that prefer structure. When you are creating a personal brand, you’ll need to take this into account.
Conscientious: These are the goal-oriented types who rarely require supervision and work effectively on their own. Highly organised, never late to a meeting and methodical in everything they do. Those who are low in this personality type are the more carefree, make it easy to do things spontaneously, and are the leaf-in-the-breeze type that is sometimes even unpredictable – rarely a perfectionist, but will get the job done.
Extroverted: You know this type – they are the ones radiating confidence and are comfortable, in control and at times dominant in social situations. These are the leaders, the motivators. Introverts would rather avoid crowds and work better on their own, only speaking when those words hold meaning and gravity.
Agreeable: These people are fun to be around because of their bubbly, friendly nature and their fondness for compassion and empathy. Will trust the people around them, at times a little too much. If you are low in this trait, you are likely to be blunt, assertive and have no problems speaking your mind – no matter the context. This comes with the scepticism of other people and a tendency to look before you leap. Typically, these people want to take the best possible steps to make everyone happy; they’re often much easier to work with because of it.
Neurotic: These are the more passionate people, but it comes saddled with a healthy dose of worry and anxiety as well. Not a risk-taker, but a more diligent and thorough worker. The opposite is the ultra-calm type that can be hard to read and adapts easily to changes. In your brand strategy, you’ll need to assess whether these types of audiences are in your network.
There are is no right or wrong way to answer these, you could be a blend of many personality types while fitting neatly in the middle with others. It is just important to understand all of your traits when building your brand. Then you can tackle the next step of applying your sense of self – and passions, values or beliefs – to your online presence. And that also means rolling out consistency across social media profiles, blog posts or any other messaging you’re getting out there as a way to build your name in your niche.
Ensure you are being authentic
Authenticity and trust walk together hand in hand, so it is imperative that you are totally genuine when building and presenting your personal branding. This can be a challenge though as you can’t reveal everything about yourself. There is definitely such a thing as TMI when it comes to presenting your true personality. When you’re creating a personal brand, you have to balance this out. Luckily, this complete guide will help you make sure you’re on the right track when you get started.
The way to tell you are being truly authentic is to read everything that you write out loud. If it sounds natural and like something you would say, you are bang on. If it feels awkward and uncomfortable, delete and start again. Also, if it is not something you would say to a person in public, then it definitely should not be published. Your passions need to be true to yourself; don’t change for the sake of your online presence. People don’t want to invest time and energy into brands or a person who isn’t willing to be themselves. No one likes a faker.
Using emojis is important as well because sometimes meanings can be lost in translation. This helps relay your branding strategy and emphasise your true meaning and feeling, plus it is an established fact that emojis are more engaging. A WordStream survey found that posts with emojis attract 25 per cent engagement so they are a very useful tool. Be careful when using them in paid content, though, as they can attract penalties from Facebook. But in organic posts? Including well-placed emojis is good when you’re trying to build your personal brand and increase engagement.
Be candid with your images as well. People like to see behind the scenes images and videos that show the ‘real’ side of the company that they are dealing with. Not all of your website or social media posts need to be home videos, but giving people a peek behind the veil every now and then will help build trust and rapport. When you’re finding ways to build a brand, this is one of the most effective and will give you a leg up with prospective clients. If you can show you are a person, you’ll gain a strong personal brand in your niche as a result.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be a person – a human. You are allowed to be upset, you are allowed to be afraid, you are allowed to show emotion, you are allowed to have passions. Your audience will recognise that and they are much more likely to want to engage with a brand (whether in search results or social media that they can view as real people. Coming off as a robot and not a person is really not what you want when you’re trying to build your brand of any kind.
What do you want to be known for when you build your brand?
You should always have goals in every facet of your business, and that includes your personal brand. What are you hoping to achieve? What clients are you after? Are you aiming for CEO? Are you wanting to be Oprah Winfrey? What are the metrics that will dictate success? These goals need to be determined and established by yourself and the managers of your company so that you have a solid plan on what you want to achieve through your personal branding. Remember, your passions are key here.
This will enable you to be very clear about what you want to do – whether that does mean reaching for that CEO position or whether you’re just trying to attract more qualified clients for your business. It also helps map out the roadblocks to success that you might encounter. It allows you to be motivated and energised – and having goals you are striving to achieve will clear your mind and give you focus.
Establish your target audience and get to know their personal brand
This step will help you build your presence in your niche, and give your website more exposure to clients that may actually be ready to convert. While it is vital to understand yourself for successful personal branding, it is also vital to understand your target audience and what makes them tick within your industry. This will help you tailor content that is more likely to get them to become engaged and take actions like make a purchase or become a lead. Spend time on this and don’t skip it. Steps like this can make or break your strategy and could help you to overtake competitors in your industry.
This is a great way to network and assess who your competitors and audience even are. You can understand their needs and challenges, and present yourself as the solution to those needs and challenges, which provides enormous value to them. It is also important to get to know their motivations, including what is more likely to get them to click through and what is more likely to make them tune out. Your entire content strategy can be built around these buyer profiles.
It also helps you understand their online behaviours – when they are online, when they are more likely to make purchases, where they live, their age, their gender, their interests, their hobbies, which social media platforms they use and at what time, their occupation and their shopping habits. The more information you can put together for buyer profiles, the better you will get to know them. Building your personal brand depends on these steps.
This works hand in hand with your personal branding, as you can weave in solutions for your target audience and make sure all of your messaging is reaching the right people.
Take the things that make you unique and amplify them
The biggest challenge when it comes to reaching your target audience through online channels is cutting through the noise of your competition. When you’re building your personal brand, you have to find the gap – what makes you an expert? There are three million active businesses on Facebook alone that are each trying to share their unique story and mission in a bid to reach the same audience you are trying to reach.
You need to really understand the unique elements that make you different to your competition and establish this in your personal branding, in order to help get this message across. It will help you stand out from the competition so your brand doesn’t get lost in a fog of sameness. You’ll be an expert.
Set a tone that makes you seem like an expert (because you are)
Once you have the process of building a personal brand down pat, it is time to establish how you want your messaging and website content to come across through digital platforms. It is perfectly fine to adopt a light-hearted, casual approach to your tone – but not when your business is a funeral parlour. It is OK to be straight down the line and serious in your approach, but probably not advisable when you are running a children’s birthday party entertainment business. Your website and content tone needs to match your personal brand, your product/services and your target audience expectations.
Your tone should take into consideration what your target audience wants, and this connects with the research you have done to create buyer personas.
We mentioned personal authenticity early on and this comes into play here. You need to match your brand values, culture and voice to your website and wider tone, to ensure you are being properly represented in the digital space.
Embrace storytelling within your website
Your personal branding is going to include colours, fonts, images and videos, but nothing will truly illustrate your brand and messaging other than quality storytelling. Telling your story is one of the best ways to earn trust from your target audience, who want to know who you are as a person and what you stand for. Your content (whether on your website or not) should include stories about who you are, why you are sharing your story, how your vision is aligned with your audience’s and what your values are. Even if you’re putting an add on the job market, all of this needs to be reflected.
Not every story has to be War and Peace, nor does it have to be highly researched analytical thought pieces. Just sharing your simple stories is a terrific way to open yourself up to your audience and get them engaged and reacting to your posts. This is the pinnacle of a strong personal brand. If something funny happened at work today, share it. Everyone loves a bit of levity. Share the stories of your product development, any awards or recognition you have received, all of your triumphs.
Think about your life lessons and share them with your audience – lessons that have carried over from your parents or teachers that you live by to this day. Tell people about the figures that have inspired you to be the brand you are today. Think about your own life experiences and how you reacted personally to achieve a better outcome. This all delivers value to your target audience.
As you get to know your audience base, you can begin to anticipate their problems, needs and challenges and develop stories that help provide solutions for them. You can then use this when building a personal brand.
The power of storytelling when you build your personal brand, so ensure you are sharing the real stories of your brand, your people and your values to gain the trust and engagement you need from your audience.
Build your personal brand with style in mind
Once you have put together all of the messaging components collected through your journey of building a personal brand – your story, your values, your goals etc – it is time to turn towards the aesthetics of your brand, which will be just as important in sharing your message as the words themselves.
Let’s start with the colour you want to use as your personal brand aesthetic. Consider the following brands – Coca-Cola, Cadbury, John Deere, Facebook, Apple – we are willing to bet that you could instantly name the colour that is associated with them. This level of brand recognition is the result of selecting the right colours and being consistent in marketing to the point where people can recognise your brand by simple colours and shapes.
Do some research into colour psychology and how it plays a role when you want to build a personal brand. Consider the thoughts that they evoke in people, then use that to match your brand and messaging with the right colours. For example, green is associated with nature, so it is a good match for a sustainable organisation – but it also matches up with wealth and prosperity and is a good match for premium products (think Lacoste, Landrover and BP).
Every colour possesses different psychological inspirations when you build a personal brand. You can also combine multiple colours and hues to create the right logo and branding, but ensure you research all of the different colours and their meanings to find the right one for you.
To help you narrow down the search, identify these three factors and align them with colours that inspire those meanings:
What do you want your customers to achieve? Are you trying to make their life better, happier, easier? Do you want them to be more informed? Do you want them to get rich? Align those goals with the colours associated with them into your personal brand. Use this as a guide.
How do you want them to feel when they see your personal brand? Inspired? Confident? Assured? Content?
Are you fun, serious or inspirational when it comes to your personal brand?
Like your colours, the font you choose for your personal brand is just as important as messaging and recognition. (Here is your first bit of advice, never, ever consider Comic Sans as a viable option!)
Set your personal brand up on social media
Once you have established all of your personal brand assets, it is time to assemble your social media platforms with these elements. What brands do you want to look like?
American social psychologist, author and General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business Jennifer Aaker put together the five types of social media personal brands – and you can pair these with your brand personality to generate the right types of content and marketing across all platforms.
These platforms include:
Generally targeted at a younger audience, this is for when you want to generate hype and excitement amongst your audience base. You want to make people feel energised and happier when they see your content. This will make them feel bold in making decisions, including purchasing from your brand. Example: Coca-Cola.
The two key personal traits here are being genuine and dedicated to your target audience. You can achieve this by being on top of all current trends, issues and news items, and combining these with your brand messaging. By leveraging topical issues, you will generate interest and engagement, and people are more likely to return to your brand. Example: Gillette.
This is well suited to outdoor living companies, gyms and sporting companies. This is when you want to share inspiration for people to test themselves and their limits, and position your personal brand as the product or service they need to achieve it. This is for a target audience that loves hiking, mountain climbing, biking – all the way up to extreme combat sports. Example: Nike.
You tick this box if you are an innovator and you are keen to show that your products are more advanced and better than any other product on the market. You want to show practical examples of how your brand is changing your industry, and highlight all of the features that your consumers need to be on the cutting edge. Example: Microsoft.
For those that want their personal brand to be perceived as premium, upmarket, prestigious and elegant. The tone, language and imagery all need to be sophisticated and you want to create a sense of desire from your target audience, a sense of needing your product to be in the elite set. Example: BMW.
Finding the right slot will allow you to determine the kinds of content and posts you will be sharing across your social platforms that fit your personal brand.
How do you want your personal brand to be found in search results?
Your personal brand content on your website needs to reflect your overall personality, but it also needs to be functional. By that, we mean it needs to attract the right attention by Google’s web crawlers – so you can appear towards the top of as many Google searches as possible in order to beat your competition and reach more potential customers who have the intent to purchase. This is called search engine optimisation (SEO) – and your web content needs to be a combination of your personality and SEO.
The first of these steps is keyword research – understanding the exact terms, words and phrases people are using to discover businesses like your personal one through Google. These keywords need to be included in all of your content but do not overuse them or you could attract penalties.
For example, if you are selling iPhone cases, you should not bomb your content with the word iPhone, like this:
[Company name here] stocks high-quality iPhone cases to suit most Apple models, with shipping available worldwide = ✔️
[Company name here] has iPhone cases suited to most iPhones so you can have the best look for your iPhone = ❌
Your keywords and personal brand should both be present in all of this new content so that you will organically improve your website’s position in Google rankings.
There are many more layers to SEO, including website optimisation, site speed, external and internal linking and more. Having a strong SEO strategy is essential, but it should always be tied to your brand personality – not just a copy and paste of keywords – because you will have the opposite effect to what you are trying to achieve.
Be consistent across all platforms for your personal brand
Once you have all of the building blocks in place for your brand personality, it is important that it becomes consistent across all platforms moving forward for it to be effective.
You want your tone, brand colours and all other elements to be the same in all instances so they become ingrained in the minds of your target audience to achieve a number of outcomes, including:
A positive customer experience
This is like the ‘McDonald’s effect’. You know that you can walk into any McDonalds anywhere in the world and get the same Big Mac. By providing high levels of consistency, your customers know what to expect every time they visit your sites and social media channels – they grow to gain confidence in your brand and ultimately trust your messaging.
It is one thing to just say what your values are, but it is another thing to consistently prove it. If you say your brand has sustainable measures as a value, showing what you are doing to achieve that sustainability like recycling initiatives, clean up days etc are social proof for your audience that you can back up your value claims with action.
Being consistent means that you are going to become more and more memorable over time until it reaches the point that customers recognise your brand on sight and will think of you before they consider your competition.
This is going to help you cut through the competitive noise and social media channels online, which will give you an edge over your rivals – which is essential in the modern world.
Looking for inspiration? Read the rags-to-riches story of Oprah Winfrey who turned her everywoman persona into a multi-billion empire that is now a household name. Now she knows the way to network her way to the top.
Need help? Speak with our logo and branding team now. We can guide you through this process.