Personal branding is the practice of promoting and marketing yourself and your career. It is an ongoing process that involves maintaining your reputation and impression of yourself as an individual. Branding was formerly viewed as something specific to businesses, however, with the growth of online communities, it has now become just as important on an individual level. Creating a recognisable and reputable personal brand opens up a world of opportunities which can help you move up in your career, build a network, meet new clients, gain press recognition and even make important friendships!
Building a personal brand can be daunting and many do not know where to start. We have put together these five tips to help you get started on building your brand, whatever industry you are in and whatever goals you may have for creating your brand.
1. Identify your focus and goals
The first step to building your personal brand is identifying what your intentions and goals are. To do this you will need to take stock of your values and passions. Your values are the principles you believe in. This could include things like community, honesty, integrity and family. Your passions on the other hand, are the specific activities you care about, both professional and personal such as lifestyle, technology, business, art and fashion; understanding what these are will help you define your goals for your personal brand and create the persona you would like to share with the world. Identifying your goals will help you determine your niche and keep your messaging focused for your target audience. It is important to have a clear idea of your goals in the beginning, however, you may find that as time passes, you want to narrow down on specific interests which connect with your target audience even further. The best personal brands are very specific. The narrower and more focused your brand is, the easier it is for people to remember who you are.
2. Develop your personal image
Once you have identified your goals and developed a specific message, then comes the work of deciding how you want to start showcasing them! You can start by getting professional pictures taken that reflect the image you are trying to project. These should be shared on your social media platforms and will come in handy for any press coverage you get. You will also need to start creating and sharing content that reflects your values and passions as described above. This helps you build credibility and drive engagement with your target audience. Content can include articles, pictures and videos. It is important that the content you are sharing aligns with your brand. Also, think about your outward appearance. Make sure you dress the part for any networking or social events you may be invited to. Depending on the industry you’re in, the perfect outfit could be a great conversation starter!
3. Be authentic
Being authentic involves you engaging meaningfully with your audience. Don’t promote inaccurate information or put on a disingenuous act as people can usually sense it and will start to lose interest. Being authentic also makes promoting your brand a more natural process and it makes it easier for you to keep up on a daily basis. Being authentic involves continued learning. You should aim to continue to gain knowledge and innovate within the path you’ve chosen. Always look for opportunities to sharpen your skillset, do your research, expand your view and even collaborate with others. This helps you build and maintain your reputation as an expert in your field. Your learning process can also be shared with your audience, to inspire them and show them your journey.
4. Be consistent
Consistency entails maintaining the same values and principles that you share both online and offline. Consistency also refers to the look and feel of the content you present. You may have a specific brand identity, for example, the pictures you post may be a specific theme or you might have a catchphrase you use at the end of your videos or an emoji people associate you with. Whatever you choose, the key is to stay consistent. Do not underestimate how even the tiniest inconsistencies can derail the effectiveness of your personal brand.
A lot of people find it difficult to keep up with their brand due to a lack of clearly defined goals. Also, lack of planning can derail your brand, so it’s important to be organized and to plan ahead. There are applications such as Planoly that can help you schedule content in advance to help maintain your online presence. For real life events, you can do practical things, such as looking at your industry calendar for the year and deciding which events to attend, as well as, seeking out possible partnerships that can help you stay ahead and consistent.
5. Follow a successful example
Lastly, find someone you admire and emulate them! They may be in a different industry or have different passions to you but there’s always something to learn from the way they’ve marketed themselves and cultivated their brand. Paying attention to industry trends will help you fashion their strategy into one that works for your own personal brand.