What is personal branding?
Personal branding is what others think of when they hear or see your name. It is how you are perceived, and it is based on the relationship you have with others both in-person and via the online world.
How is personal branding different than company branding?
Personal branding is not the same as company branding, however a strong personal brand can enhance company branding and even overlap it when the company owner is the face of a company.
Just as a company chooses its own color scheme, creates an online presence including a website and social channels, has its own logo, photos and story, you as an individual also get to choose and curate your own online and social media presence, choose your own life “color scheme”, and tailor your online profiles and in-person appearance to present yourself a certain way.
However, how you present yourself is not as important as how you make those around you feel, when it comes to building your personal brand.
As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
People won’t remember your Instagram photos from a month ago, and they won’t remember if you spoke to them in an “on brand” way, however, they will remember if you made them feel happy, interesting, better, sad, mad, uncomfortable, slimy, empowered, inspired, or any other feeling you ignited in them.
If they connect you with a positive feeling, anytime they see your name online or in person they will want to be around you and associate your brand with good thoughts and feelings, and the same goes if you made them feel the opposite type of way.
A brand only exists in other’s minds, whether that is your personal brand or the brand of a multi-million dollar company.
Your personal brand is how others perceive you and feel about you. You can do a lot to present yourself and interact with others in a way that influences how they perceive you, but at the end of the day, how they feel about you is up to them.
Your personal brand can be entirely virtual, just like a company’s brand. That means someone can have a feeling about you and your brand without ever meeting you.
A personal brand is largely developed by your online presence, meaning others will have an opinion about you without having ever met you.
Benefits of having a personal brand
Provides a foundation to start a successful company
When you have a strong personal brand, it is much easier to start a company with your face as the brand, and instaneously have sales and inspire trust due to your strong existing brand and audience.
Think of Kylie Jenner’s $1.2 billion dollar Lip Kit empire, all built on the back of her strong personal brand. Kylie’s story is an example of successfully intertwining your personal and business brand.
Gives you a strong reference when applying to jobs
Companies often want personal references when you apply to their jobs, but they also crave, and look for, virtual references as well. When you’ve written or are quoted in prominent online publications in your expert subject matter area, when you have other sites and people vouching for you online, and a strong online social and professional presence, companies will see that during the application process, and it will count for as much as or even more than having a strong personal recommendation.
People will want to work with you and reach out on their own
When you have a strong brand people will find you online and feel drawn to you immediately. They will want to work with you and will reach out to ask how they can do so on their own.
Having a strong brand is like having an automatic traffic generation machine, where people find you on their own and then reach out to see how you can work together or how they can get to know you.
How to build a strong personal brand
To have a personal brand, people need to know who you are and what your area of expertise is.
To build your personal brand:
• Set up social channels that reflect your brand strongly
• Create an online web presence that reflects your desired brand including a website
• Trade shoutouts with those in your industry to build your brand presence and name
• Run events related to your brand
• Creating a branded online video presence, which you can easily do on YouTube
• Going viral or creating a steady but small community on any social media platform
• Post in social channels and forums in your area of expertise and help others while doing it to get your name out there
• Get interviewed in as many places as possible, video, radio, podcast, print to get your name out there in a strong way. Also interview others on these channels and create your own brand while doing so
• Run ads in offline platforms such as TV, radio or billboards
Anything that you can do that gets your name out there and elevates your brand presence will help you build your own personal brand and audience.
Tell authentic stories to build your personal brand
Putting out beautiful, edited photos and lovely written captions won’t be enough to build a brand anyone actually remembers.
You’ll need to also share some less perfect sides of yourself or even failures and how you overcame them if you want people to remember you and want to connect and follow you.
Be careful not to overshare and simply complain or talk about every single problem or struggle you have. That will only get you attention and sympathy, it won’t help you build a strong brand others actually trust and want to connect with.
Share specific, honest stories that contribute to your brand and that will inspire those you want to follow you. Anything that you have already overcome can be great to share, or if it is something you are in the midst of currently, you can still share, but only if you do it from a perspective of optimism and have a strong plan to get to where you need to go.
Sharing that is only complaining and a pity-party will drive credibility and trust away from your personal brand, neither which you want to do if you ever want to build a business off of, or inspire trust in others, with your personal brand.
A strong personal brand is worth more than money
Money can inflate to the point of worthlessness and be lost at any point in time.
Your personal brand will still be there, even if everything else you have disappears, because those who know you virtually or in-person will still remember you.
A brand is the trust and relationship you have with others which is something you’ll always have. Start building your personal brand now and it will be there for you when you need it at some point in the future, even if that is not right now.
Relationships and how others perceive you are the strongest currency that exists today, and that is why your personal brand is so important and worth building.