Why you should build a personal brand:
Whether you’re building a business around yourself, or you are working in a corporate environment as one of many, having a personal brand can be incredibly valuable to your success and goals – increasing exposure for your strengths inside your business and/or increasing exposure for your business externally.
Some of the best personal brands include Kim Kardashian (& Family – say what you want, they are a branding masterclass), Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Vera Wang, Marie Kondo, and so many more. Not all of these examples have businesses exclusively built around them – like Elon Musk – but he acts as a visible, branded figurehead, who is synonymous with his company, Tesla.
Benefits of building a personal brand:
- Trust and authority: Build trust with your audience and position yourself as an authority and thought leader in your industry.
- Media: Having a personal brand makes it easier to pitch and be found by the media. Having a clear story and focus makes you a desirable subject for media to feature or turn to for content.
- Build your network: When you articulate who you are and how you help others, it makes it easier for others to see the value in connecting with you.
- Attract more clients: Building a personal brand helps potential clients find you and validates you charging higher prices for your services. It makes you part of what you’re selling.
So, how does one go about building a personal brand? Here is a brief guide on how you can develop your own personal brand in a purposeful and authentic way.
1. Build your foundation
You’re a multifaceted person with many interests and you’re constantly growing – but I bet there are a few key interests that are consistently you. This can be part of your foundation – the key here is authenticity. If you’re having difficulty thinking of where to start here, think about what your friends and family come to you for. What lights you up when someone asks for help with this thing?
Now that your mind is in the right place, you’re ready to take inventory of your assets.
- Skills & credentials: What skills have you acquired? What training, credentials, certifications, or awards have you received?
- Passions & interests: What industries and topics are you most interested in? What lights you up?
- Core values & beliefs: What are some of your most important core values? What do you stand for? What do you stand against?
Once you’ve identified these key assets, you’re ready to take the next step and develop the key elements of your personal brand. Answer the questions and prompts below:
- Your brand vision: What do you want to be known for? If you were to become known as the world’s go-to expert on this topic, what would that be?
- Your brand mission: Why do you want to build a personal brand? Who do you want to affect? What do you want to accomplish?
- Your brand message: What is the key message you want to communicate? If you could give only one piece of advice to your audience, what would it be?
- Your brand personality: What are some of your personal characteristics and traits that you can weave into your brand? What other brands would your brand hang out with? What kind of place would your brand be seen? What traits would you use to describe your brand? (This can be you or based on you or a version of you – remember authenticity)
2. Finding your people – all about your audience
You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea – it’s important to know that not only is that okay, it’s actually critical to your success. Finding your people is the next step in developing your personal brand. In order to attract your ideal clients, you must be comfortable repelling those who are not them. This means identifying a specific target audience and building a brand that is attractive to them. If you try to be liked by everyone, ten times out of ten this will backfire.
To quote Alexander Hamilton, “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.” Be the brand that definitively stands for something.
Here are some categories you can use, if applicable, to define your audience profile. It is recommended that you develop these in the order below:
- Demographics: What is their age, gender, education, relationship status, income, profession, interests, etc.?
- Desires and aspirations: What are their desired outcomes? What are their aspirations and goals? Where do they hope to be?
- Pain points and challenges: What are they struggling with? What is blocking them from achieving their aspirations? What do they perceive as their biggest pain point?
3. Tell your story
The Pursuit:365 Community is designed with this purpose in mind. You may already have an incredible story on record as a member of this community. Your story is unique to you and should include your aspirations, emotions, a chronology of key moments in your journey, and a conclusion and/or a hope for the future moment. Your story can inspire and motivate others to take action and provide a relatable peek-behind-the-curtain moment for others who have similar experiences.
Here is a guide for telling that story:
- Starting point: This should include your emotional state and goals from the perspective of that starting point.
- The obstacle: What is the obstacle you faced or are facing? What does it feel to look at the obstacle before you (from the perspective of that starting point again)?
- The process: How you went about (or are going about) approaching that obstacle. What that process feels like.
- The result: Where you are at now with regards to the obstacle and your journey. What does it feel like to have overcome the obstacle and have stepped into the emotional state post-overcoming? Or what does it feel like to be where you are at in your journey with that obstacle?
Write. It. Down. It’s important that you have a record of your reflections so you can have this story to develop and harness in your personal brand. Your unique experiences make up who you are and who you are becoming. Be proud of the person you are and the obstacles that make you stronger and fortify your values and outlook on life. Tell your story!
4. Design a perspective and develop an opinion
When you think of amazingly effective personal brands like Elon Musk or Marie Kondo – you know with some amount of clarity what their perspective and opinions are in their space. Elon Musk is eccentric and inventive and believes the sky isn’t the limit but rather a starting point. Marie Kondo believes in living life with joy and using joy as a compass for reducing clutter. These are perspectives that are developed purposefully, and their personal brands are built around them. It’s your turn!
Perspectives and opinions can shift and grow just like you, but this core-value-based opinion should be relatively timeless and value-aligned, so it is unlikely to change, but also leaves room for nuanced growth.
Use these familiar prompts to develop your purposeful perspective:
- What do you stand for? What do you stand against?
- If you could give your audience one piece of advice, what would it be?
- Finish this sentence: Above all else, in my industry, I believe we need more…
- Finish this sentence: Above all else, in my industry, I believe we need less…
- Finish this sentence: I wish people in my industry were empowered with the knowledge that…
Try these statements out with trusted friends or peers and reflect on how it feels to defend your statement and how your audience feels about the perspective coming from you. If the conversation energizes you and leaves your audience feeling excited and empowered, then you’ve found the right messaging for your personal brand!
What’s next? Use this platform and perspective you have developed and show up online and in person. Be ready for clarity and confidence in your industry, and for more people to come to you as a known expert in your space!