Branding. That’s the new buzz word on the heels of “entrepreneur” and “kombucha”. Hear the phrase “personal brand” and your mind is immediately flooded with images of Instagram influencers and YouTube sensations who somehow amass a following fit for an army.
And sure, sometimes the headlines can be a bit clickbaity, but for the most part, people tune in because there is a connection. Personal branding utilizes the same principles as any Fortune 500 company. Both focus on marketing, authenticity and a unique promise of value.
Luckily, it doesn’t take a multi-million dollar advertising budget or a large amount of consumer data to develop your own brand. A personal brand simply speaks to who you are and what you love to do, even before you walk into a room.
Understanding yourself, your goals and your values will determine what opportunities you attract.
Here are six strategies you can use when starting to build your brand:
1.) Know Your WHY
A brand is not a business.
A business collects on the assets earned from a brand. A brand is who people think you are. The goal is to build a business around that brand. In building a strong foundation, you have to understand your “why”, even before you tackle how to get it done.
Why are you showcasing yourself to the world? Why do you want people to know who you are on this level? Why are you providing this service or content?
Starting with your “why” gives your audience a way to identify with you personally.
“We want to be around people and organizations who are like us and share our beliefs.” — Simon Sinek
Next, think about the things you are good at.
What you enjoy to do. Start there and then work on how to develop an expertise in those areas. Do you love fashion? Are you a foodie? Do you write fan fiction? The easiest way to build that knowledge is to study the people already in those fields.
Once you have built a skill set and understand what value you provide to an audience, establish a process around it so you can consistently deliver content.
2.) Get As Niche As Possible
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of generalizing their business to reach as many people as possible.
This tactic offers small returns. Why would a customer buy something from you when they can get the same product somewhere else at a lower price?
But when you specialize and narrow your scope to a particular group, you gain a base who cannot find what you supply anywhere else.
We suggest going niche into who you are. Once you understand your “why”, follow that rabbit hole till the end. People pay premium when they identify with a brand.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” — Simon Sinek
3.) Identify How Others See You
A large aspect in who we are is in how people see us.
Other’s perception of us play into how we interact with the world.
When you are seen as approachable, more often than not, people will strike up conversations with you and genuinely value your presence. The opposite can be said for those of us who come off as arrogant.
There is no right or wrong. It is completely your choice in who you want to be. But understanding this part of how you are viewed in the larger world will tell you the direction you need to go.
4.) Be Authentic
Fitting in and being accepted into a larger society or group is an instinctual part of the human experience.
Moving in numbers offers a sense of safety. We feel protected and valued when others want to keep us around. However, in building your own personal brand, you have to lead the society. You have to believe in your words and your actions for others to follow and connect with them.
Personal branding is not about being something you are not. It’s not crafting a persona.
It’s about showcasing yourself to an audience. Find your “tribe” through genuine interactions. If anything, lean into who you are even more, especially if you are going to be on camera. Your brand is a reflection of your values, skills and personality.
All of which can be leveraged to grow a customer base.
5.) Develop Your Social Image
Your online presence goes hand-in-hand with your real life identity.
Your digital imprint is the next best thing to meeting you in person, maybe even better.
Embrace the technology. You are 100% in control of how you present yourself and what people see. Maintain a consistent online brand from what you post, to your comments and where you are tagged.
Without sounding like an episode of Black Mirror, it takes time to transfer your physical essence into a digital platform, but it’s necessary when building your brand and eventually leveraging that into bigger opportunities.
No matter the platform, whether it be Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, this is your digital real estate. Think of your profile and pages as your digital property.
You have laid down the foundation and built every square with your own hands. Once you have amassed a large enough following, companies will take notice. In order to connect with YOUR followers, they will pay you to “rent” your squares and promote their products. They buy into your connection with your audience to gain sales off of the partnership.
Think of Shawn Mendes and Calvin Klein or DJ Khaled and Weight Watchers.
Also, be sure to do a Google search on yourself from time to time. It may feel awkward at first, but you definitely do not want any old tweets coming back to haunt you.
6.) Dive Deep Into Your Expertise
There is a common thread all entrepreneurs have when asked about their success:
They have extremely high-levels of commitment.
If they have not gone to school for the work they do, they have definitely put in the equivalent amount of time to build their knowledge and experience in their field.
Not only do they have an expertise, but they continually learn and seek higher levels of mastery.
Continue to gain knowledge in not only what you do, but who you are. As you share your growth with the world and show your journey, you will find there is longevity in being yourself.
What strategies have you applied when building a personal brand? Let us know in the comments section.