We are all aware of how crucial branding is to a company’s ability to succeed. Observe the child’s response when you take them by two burger establishments. Will kids beg you to stop at McDonald’s or Joe’s No-Name Burgers? Naturally, people will choose the well-known McDonald’s brand. Well, when it comes to humans, nothing is different. The same principles apply to personal branding. Compared to names of complete strangers, people are more interested in names they are familiar with.
Some folks don’t seem to care about this. Every day they cheerfully get up, go to work in an unnamed company, and then return home. They don’t care as long as their friends and family know who they are. But for a lot of people, personal branding is essential. Additionally, this is no more so than when you run your own business, and you live or die by your personal attraction.
A person’s perception of you in person, the way you are portrayed in the media, and the impression that people get from any internet mentions of you can all contribute to their personal brand. Thus, how can you develop a personal brand that would make an impression? These are some of the actions you should take in order to develop a brand that eventually has the ability to compete with industry leaders.
Whether or not you need to take each of these actions will depend on where you are in life right now. For example, you may already have a clear vision and understand your niche. But if you want to elevate your brand, it makes sense to go over even the fundamentals again.
This is a how-to guide for developing a personal brand that accurately and authentically represents your identity and offerings.
1. Decide how you want to be seen
In order to create a cohesive and authentic personal brand, you need to have a clear focus on how you’d like people to perceive you. Although figuring out who you are as a ‘brand’ might seem like the definition of inauthentic, you could think of it in the same way you might adjust your clothes in order to suit different situations. Sociologist Erving Goffman believed that we adapt who we are in order to keep in step with those we’re interacting with, dubbing this ‘self-presentation’.
In practice, you could think of it as such: when you’re with friends, you’re casual and relaxed and your clothes and language reflect that. Other times, when you want to be seen as more professional, you’ll dress in something more formal and speak in a more eloquent, authoritative tone. It’s really just a series of adjustments across visual, written, and verbal spheres, that add up to create a more distinct perception of the person that you are in differing situations.
Personal branding isn’t about trying to carve a new identity for yourself; at its core, it’s an exercise in highlighting your true strengths, not just creating ones that you don’t actually possess.
Start by asking yourself some pointed questions. What is the core of my offering to my consumers or audience? What makes me unique and allows me to offer my audience something that others don’t? What are my strengths? Do I have a distinct style? Knowing the answers to these questions and creating strategies to express them creates consistency and makes it easier to build relationships with an audience.
2. Amplify what you offer
Certainly, there are many things that make you unique. What does your deep love of Haruki Murakami novels offer someone else, however? If you’re hoping to connect to an audience, whether it’s your manager or your social media following, you’ve got to get to the bottom of your value proposition. That is, what are you offering people, and what problem are you hoping to solve for them?
You might be particularly good at creating candid videos, for instance. You could either build a name for yourself in this, reaching out to brands or influencers and offering your services, or position yourself as an expert on creating them and offering advice on how your audience can recreate them. In both cases, you have the opportunity to offer your audience something that’s distinctly yours, with you at the center.
What you offer is more than what you’re good at, too. You might be great at creating reports but loathe the task so instead, focus on the things that really bring you joy. Is pepping people up your thing? Maybe your Instagram could be sprinkled with tiles of inspirational quotes. Do you love talking about modern Japanese authors? Perhaps you could blog about the connection between Murakami and young Japanese novelists.
While you can pull off aptitude (fake it ‘til you make it, right?) in some things, you can’t fake enthusiasm. People will be drawn to you for your true passions, so work on amplifying these. Somewhere in between your knowledge, personal experience and passion will be your true, unrivaled niche.
3. Know your audience (and your competition)
Just as you would when starting any new business or tackling any new design, you need to know who you’re speaking to. Sometimes, that audience is your boss, determining whether you’re doing a great job in your role. Other times, it’s the growing number of followers on your Instagram page. While following the beat of your own drum is important, you must keep your audience in mind—with any luck, if you’ve carved your niche correctly, your audience will be the kind who’s interested in what makes you, you.
Start by constructing a profile of your typical audience member; who they are, what they like and dislike, as well as what other brands do they associate with. If it helps, put a face to them and give them a name to round out your vision of them as much as possible.
While you’re building this profile, don’t forget to look at competitors. What other brands that occupy the same market does your profiled consumer commonly associate with? If you’re a designer, find other designers with similar strengths and a similar style to see what they are doing to attract clients. If you’re designing for your organic cafe brand, look at popular organic cafe brands, and see what similarities they all have and what sets them apart. This is a great jumping-off point for finding any gaps in your market.
4. Establish a tone of voice
Branding goes so much deeper than the visual appearance and in order to maintain that all-important consistency, you need to get clear on what kind of words make them distinctly yours.
For any copy that you use, whether it be a status update, tweet, copy on your website, or conversations with clients, make certain to maintain a specific tone that accurately reflects you. Sophisticated brands aren’t going to send out emails with “Hey, what’s up?” as a greeting, and likewise, you can’t establish a fun, casual, friendly tone if you apply language that’s overly formal.
Read Also: How to Build a Brand on Twitter
If you’re not sure about what tone suits your brand, then write some sample tweets, emails, or messages. Give yourself some scenarios, for example: would it better suit your brand to say “We apologize for the inconvenience” or “Sorry about the mix-up, we’re on the case”? Have a look at brands you admire and see what might also suit your brand check out their syntax and tone and swap and change elements until you get a tone that is just right for your brand, and that accurately reflects you.
5. Develop a tailored font and color palette
Willie Nelson has his plaits, Drake has his goatee. When it comes to being memorable, you can channel your uniqueness into the visuals of your brand, too.
The visual representation of your personal brand, whether it be your portfolio, website or streamlined LinkedIn page, can incorporate consistent elements of color and typography that have the power to change perceptions about your brand, generating certain emotions and feelings and can help (or hinder) people’s perception of you. If your personal brand centers on altruism and problem-solving, a sunny yellow peppered through your website might be more appropriate than a serious, stark black.
6. Set up your online platforms and create your digital assets
Social media isn’t purely a recreational tool anymore; businesses use social media to network, advertise, show off their skills, and shape their brand. This is where streamlined digital assets will be particularly important: creating a brand doesn’t mean you can just create a logo and color palette and stop there. In reality, there are many other elements—commonly known as deliverables—that can enhance your brand.
Take Facebook as an example. There’s a profile picture, cover photo, image posts, content design, and app button images, for starters. Beyond that, you have X (Twitter) headers, X (Twitter) image posts, Instagram posts, Google+ headers, YouTube Channel Art, and so much more, depending on what sites you choose to put your brand on.
Oftentimes, the dimensions, sizing, and cropping of each digital deliverable is different. So, to make sure your designs are perfectly sized and optimized for each platform, use specialized social graphic templates in order to avoid having to recreate assets from scratch for every platform.
Beyond social media, consider what other digital elements you might need. Do you need content for your website? Do you need a signature for your email? Try to think about every channel that you’ll be using professionally, and pad it out with cohesive designs.
To streamline the process, make a checklist of every element you need to create for your digital mediums and create them together. This will keep your designs consistent, prevent any inconsistencies (e.g. if you used a slightly different color), and make it way easier and quicker for you to launch.
7. Create all your physical deliverables
While so many things are online these days, it’s important to not forget the medium that started it all – print. You can network online all you like, but handing someone a real business card, sending them a letter with a personalized letterhead, or letting them physically flip through a portfolio of your work can be refreshing and just as important as any digital connection.
These physical deliverables can span things as basic as business cards, letterheads, and invoices but you could expand this to compliment slips, envelope designs, and packaging depending on your needs. Assess your brand, note down its needs, and work from there. Don’t think you need to spend a fortune on graphic design (or anything at all, for that matter!); there are thousands of free templates to choose from to support your design needs.
Another great physical deliverable to have in your artillery is a portfolio. So many portfolios these days are online or digital, and while this is great for convenience in some cases, if you plan on meeting clients, consumers, or employers in person and have a good body of work to show off, handing them a physical portfolio can be a nice way to stick in their minds.
Building one’s own brand might require a lot of time and effort. It may take a long time for you to establish yourself as the “go-to” person in your niche, therefore you won’t be able to achieve it quickly.
However, some people are successful in creating a well-known personal brand. Furthermore, the return on investment may be extraordinarily great. Being true to oneself is ultimately the key. They’ve already been taken, therefore you can’t be anyone else.
This implies that your personal brand must be really genuine and truthful to who you really are. It is not possible to fabricate a persona and hope that people will identify you as the expert.
If you try, people will quickly come to the conclusion that you are just as made-up as Harry Potter is—without the boyish charm or magical abilities.
You can learn from others’ inspiration, incorporate the advice of your mentors, and pay attention to the issues that your followers are facing. You have to be who you are in the end. You must value your uniqueness and develop a personal brand that is consistent with your character.