Personal branding is by no means a new or light topic, but with the rise of social technologies, personal branding is as accessible as ever, meaning you have so much more opportunity, but also so much more competition.
For you to stand out amongst the noise, you must become a valued brand. That brand is ‘You’. Take a closer look at the (st)art of personal branding and see how you can use it to start building your own personal brand. Brand You™.
1. Set Goals, Plan & Define Your Brand
Before creating your brand, you must set specific goals and plan accordingly. You should take a look at where you are at now and where you want to be in the future.
Are you trying to become an authority in your niche? Why? Are you planning to get a new job position or become a stay-at-home freelancer? Are you trying to find more clients and / or increase your prices?
Figuring out why and where you want to be in the future will help you decide how to do it.
Re-read that. If you can do this, then you will become a master of your domain.
As an example of a ‘successful’ personal brand, Darren Rowse is the leader in the ‘how to make money blogging’ niche (among others) and although his site is not self-named, his personal brand has grown based how he communicates through his own brand, websites & social channels.
After you have figured out your goals, chosen your niche and set out a plan, you need to start creating your brand.
2. Know, Understand & Believe In Your Brand
Your personal brand needs to have a look and feel, as well as a way to communicate, but this goes much further than having a logo & social media accounts. You need to maintain a consistent ‘corporate image’ in all mediums and at all times. See the differences between branding & visual identity here.
The fundamental idea and core concept behind having this ‘corporate image’ is that everything you do, everything you own and everything you produce, should reflect the values and aims of your personal brand as a whole.
As an example, let’s look at the well-known IT company, Apple. Although they are not a personal brand, the branding concept remains the same; they have a consistent ‘corporate image’.
Apple projects a humanistic corporate culture and a strong corporate ethic, one, which is characterised by volunteerism, support of good causes & involvement in the community. These values of the business are evident throughout everything they do, from their innovative products and advertising, right through to their customer service. Apple is an emotionally humanist brand that really connects with people – when people buy or use their products or services; they feel part of the brand, like a tribe even. It is this emotional connection that creates their brand – not purely their products and a bite sized logo.
If you can apply these same core principles to your own brand then it will be easier for others to see & know what you’re all about.“Remember, it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.”
3. Create & Maintain Your Brand
After you have set your goals, outlined your target market & defined how you wish to be perceived, then you can start to form the foundation of your brand. Below are the essential building blocks that will help you do this.
A Unique Visual Identity
One of the easiest ways to differentiate your self from the competition is by having a unique visual identity. This visual identity should be consistent and reflective of your initial goals, yet flexible enough to work across all areas of your communication. Ensure, at minimum, that you have a business card, letterhead, an up-to-date CV, website and a variety of online social profiles.
Your Own Website, Domain Name & Email Address
Do you know what comes up when people type your name into Google? Hopefully your name and website, but if not, a quick way to climb to the top of search engines is by having your own domain such as JohnSmith.com.
On your website, you should have information about you, links to your other websites, your social profiles, as well as a blog and if applicable, a portfolio.
You should also set up a personally branded email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org as this looks much more professional than a free email service such as email@example.com.
Social Networks. (Engage & Communicate!)
It’s one thing to have Facebook or Twitter, but actually using it right for your personal brand is another thing. You should remember that everything you do, say and share is reflective of ‘Brand You’, both personally and professionally.
Ask yourself, what value are you providing to your friends and followers? Are you engaging and communicating with people, not just sharing what you had for breakfast? Have you filled out your online profiles to their fullest extent? Are you linking to your websites within each profile? What about your email signature?
There are many ways to help promote you and your brand, but the simplest way is by making it easy for people to find and communicate with you. When they do, be sure to engage & provide value.
Brand Maintenance, Security & Monitoring
Your brand is your business and your reputation. Why wouldn’t you monitor what people are saying about you?
Use Google Alerts, Twitter Search and the many other tools available to you so you know when you are mentioned somewhere on the web. This allows you to put out fires early, as well as network and thank people who are helping or linking to you.
The Secret To Personal Branding…
Remember, planning is the foundation of your personal brand and the execution builds the structure of that brand, but ultimately, it comes down to what people say about you, not what you say about yourself, thus the ultimate goal is to make your planned self-impression equal to how other people perceive you.
That is the secret to personal branding.