The first step in building a personal brand is to recognize that it is not about you, it’s about the perception others have of you.
Before we dive into how to build a unique personal brand, let’s define the phrase personal brand.
What is a Personal Brand?
Your personal brand is what others think, say, and feel about you. With that said, your first item of business when building a personal brand is to define how you want to be perceived.
That doesn’t mean, coming up with who you want to be based on what you see everyone else doing and being, but sharing your authentic self, your values, beliefs, passions, the skills you have, your why, and the level of service you want to provide.
How to Create a Personal Brand – Step 1
The first step in creating a personal brand is to identify and define your specific personal brand.
Every step of your journey to date is part of your personal branding. The successes, mistakes, failures, everything.
These things are all unique to you and the business you want to form or have already created.
Three Key Questions to Ask When Creating a Personal Brand
Ask yourself these three key questions and create your personal branding strategy around them, with a focus on differentiating yourself from all others in your area of expertise.
Who are you?
What do you do?
Why does it matter?
Who you are matters to your audience. They need to know who you are in order to trust you. And they won’t hire you until they trust you. Trust determines hiring practices.
What you do also matters. Communicating what you do is key to reaching the right people who need the service you provide.
Why does what you do matter to your audience? Mattering is marketing. You have to matter, or you can’t market. Remember, marketing is communicating your brand story, so if your personal brand doesn’t matter, you can’t market it.
All of the above factors can be evaluated as you write the mission statement for your business.
How to Create a Personal Brand – Step 2
The second step is to define your ideal client avatar.
Who is it that you are being called to serve? What is her name? What problems does she have that you can solve? Is she a mom and/or a wife? Does she have a corporate job or is she an entrepreneur? What is her biggest struggle right now? Likewise, what does she need from you? And what do you need from her?
I want you to get very specific with who you serve.
Example of My Ideal Avatar
Jules is 45, she has worked in corporate for 20 years and garnered a lot of experience and expertise.
She is burned out from working 9 to 5 and raising her family.
Jules wants to start a business where she can have freedom with her schedule and have more family time while making an impact on the lives of her clients. She has a heart for service.
Her biggest question is how to build a personal brand and launch a business.
Jules struggles with confidence and is afraid to start something new and of the unknowns of entrepreneurship.
The struggles of starting a business
She has tried to build a business by using her Google search bar. Purchasing online courses, joined Facebook groups, listened to podcasts, and downloaded every free piece of information she could find online but now she’s on information overload.
She’s wondering why these things are working for everyone else and not for her. Hiring a coach has been on the back burner because she doesn’t think she can find the time and is hesitant to spend the money when there are so many free resources.
However, she’s spent money on “quick fixes”. And these quick fixes have cost her time, energy, and money, left her feeling overwhelmed and confused, and she is now on the brink of burnout.
Jules is realizing that she needs help. Just like every one of us, she is not meant to do this alone. She wants someone to guide her step by step on creating a strategy that will work for her and her business, and save her time, energy, and money so that she can create profit sooner than later.
Jules loves to work hard and is ready and finally willing to invest in herself and her dreams.
Basically, Jules is me 5+ years ago! Your ideal client avatar is most likely you too.
How to Build a Personal Brand – Step 3
The third step is to decide where and how you want to represent yourself as your personal brand.
Do you need a website right away?
Should you be on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or TikTok?
Where is your ideal client hanging out?
The answers to these questions can be found by mapping out the questions your ideal client avatar is asking. What problem is it that she has that you can solve? Where will she be searching for those answers? Is she searching by hashtags or is she using Google?
My ideal client is going to be using Google but is also hanging out on Instagram for inspiration, joining Facebook groups for free information and opportunities, and is using LinkedIn as a business networking tool.
Keep it Real
But let’s be real. You can’t be everywhere all the time. Choose the platforms that you love, and you know you’ll be able to build relationships on. More about this when we talk about step 5.
Key things to consider when building a personal brand and making decisions about what platforms you will be present on.
Always have your face front and center. You must be present for people to get to know love and trust you.
If you decide to go with a website, which I always recommend, your image should be on your home page, and about page, and sprinkled throughout your website. Custom stock photos related to your business are also helpful, whether you are a product or service-based business.
Your profile photo on your social media platforms should be the same or similar to the images on your website with your eyes and smile showing.
Be consistent and create a cohesive feel for your brand so that you become recognizable and memorable. Doing so will help build a connection which will lead to relationships that will build trust. And by now you can probably repeat it without me…trust determines buying practices.
How to Build a Personal Brand – Step 4
The fourth step in building a personal brand is to establish realistic goals.
This is another mistake I made. I didn’t set long-term goals when I first started my business and the reality is, that if you don’t set long-term goals, you aren’t moving the needle forward.
For the first year of your business, map out the goals you have for building the foundation for success and attracting X number of clients to make X amount of money.
Content strategy will be important for achieving these goals, from SEO to social media presence.
Your goals for the second year should include your growth and additional steps you will take to achieve that growth. Will your business model shift in year two? Where do you anticipate opportunities for team expansion? You are now the CEO of your business. Can you hire someone to take over the responsibilities that you don’t love or aren’t great at and focus on your zone of genius?
Not Too Long-Term
I personally don’t think setting a 5-year plan is necessary, but a two to three-year plan is important and it must include how you will continue to control what others think, feel, and say about you as your business grows. You need to stay present no matter how your business grows, and it’s important to stay authentic. You may change, your goals may shift, and your team may grow, these are things you can share to continue connecting with your audience and controlling the perception they have of you.
In your budget, include professional branding photoshoots and updates to your website as you plan for growth and additional service options.
Be sure that as you establish your goals and tasks within your business you are creating processes and systems so that in the event you can’t be present, a team member or family member can step in and take over for a set period of time.
How to Build a Personal Brand – Step 5
The fifth step is to start creating content and being present.
In order to create, develop, and grow a personal brand you must be present. Creating content can be overwhelming but doesn’t have to be.
If you are an expert and passionate about what you do and the people you serve, the content is at your fingertips.
Each client interaction you experience results in something you can use for content. Every question your answer is a question that others have too, and you can share to help more people.
Not to overwhelm yourself, create a content strategy. This is where brand marketing comes into play.
Refer back to step 4 – where will you be present?
How often will you be present?
How much time do you want to dedicate to creating content?
Maybe your content strategy will look something like this:
A weekly blog post
Three Instagram posts
4 LinkedIn posts
Or maybe you only want to create long-form content once a month so you write a blog post once a month but are on social media every day. Your content plan has to be something you are comfortable with and can commit to without becoming overwhelmed, frustrated, and burnt out.
Every time you create a blog post you have content to share on social media.
Do not reinvent the wheel. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose.
Every piece of content you create must provide value, entertain, educate, or inspire.
The key is to focus on differentiation.
Differentiate yourself from all others in your area of expertise.
Remember, you do not have to be on every platform. Start small. Focus on mastering one or two platforms. Once you have done that, start sharing the same content on other platforms. Chances are that your audience is not on every platform you are on and if they are, the algorithms are determining what they see and they are probably only seeing your content in one place.
It never hurts for people to see things more than once. One it helps with recognizability and two it takes 14 to 21 times for someone to see something before it truly resonates.
What a Personal Brand Is Not
Note that I didn’t mention creating a logo, identifying your color palette, or typography. Why? Because they are what make up your brand identity. You first have to create a personal brand.
Once you have created a personal brand and decided if you want to move forward with a website, create your brand identity. You will need the elements from your brand identity to design your website and for creating visual content on social media.
The goal will be to use your brand identity elements to keep your brand consistent and cohesive across all of your platforms. Your messaging will be the core for consistency and your identity elements will be the mainstay for cohesiveness.
Being consistent and cohesive is key to being recognizable, and memorable, and to building trust.
Who Needs a Personal Brand?
I often get the question who needs a personal brand?
Whether you are in corporate or an entrepreneur, you both need and have a personal brand. Remember, your personal brand is the perception others have of you. It’s what they think, say, and feel about you.
That means you have to be mindful at all times of what content you put out into the world. That probably sounds a little dramatic, but it’s a reality. Even if you are in corporate, people have thoughts about you as a person and those thoughts can influence your career path.
Here is an article from Thrive Global that reiterates my belief that everyone has a personal brand and should be controlling what others think, feel, and say about them.
Think about it. Have you ever Googled yourself? What comes up? Then ask yourself what you want to come up in search results if anyone else Googles your name. You can control, or at least influence what is found.
Have questions about how to build a personal brand, or feel like you could use a rebrand? Let’s connect for a discovery.