Personal branding seems to be much of a buzzword at the moment, but what does it actually mean, and do you need to create a personal brand for yourself (and your business)?
Why build a personal brand?
From your own experience, what types of businesses and brands to you feel most connected with? In most cases, it’s fair to say people connect with stories, and with other people. For this reason, it’s imperative you uncover your message and then share it with the world. A brand is how people come to recognise you and your business. If you do this well, you’ll gain trust and followers which of course, over time, will convert to paying customers.
How to build your personal brand
- Just start – in the early days of my business, I had my first customer well before I had a business name or any kind of marketing strategy! Try not to get too caught up in the finer details; the most important thing is that you simply start. If you’re a service, offer it, if you sell a product, sell it. The branding will evolve with time. Don’t use not having a beautiful website or logo as an excuse not to start selling!
- Make sure the brand fits – as a consumer, there’s nothing more frustrating than that feeling like you’ve really connected with a business, only for them do go through another huge re-brand. People value consistency, so ensure your business name and branding fits with who you are and what your message is… this might mean it takes time to define your brand and your ideal target market, but that’s ok
- Hire an expert – one of my best business decisions was hiring a marketing strategist. She took my vague ideas and created a clear brand positioning document which included brand vision, brand behaviours, brand equities, brand essence and vision. This has given absolute clarity to me around my brand, and what I stand for. This is a fantastic document to share with anyone who’ll be doing work to represent your brand. You can then hand this to a branding expert who can translate it all into a logo and colour scheme, perfectly in line with your vision.
- Be consistent and authentic – consistency is key. Once you’ve taken the time to uncover who you are, remain true to it. Ensure that no matter where your brand is seen, the look and feel is the same for everyone that comes across it. Customers what to know what to expect when they engage with your brand and want a seamless experience!
Putting yourself out there
Whether you have formally developed your branding strategy, or are figuring it out as you go, there is no point having an incredible reputation, skill set or brand if no-one ever sees it! No matter how good you are, there will always be a fear of rejection or that horrible imposter syndrome that sneaks into your brain and convinces you to hide yourself away. Ultimately, fear is a very natural thing… so acknowledge the fear and ‘thank it’ for trying to protect you.
In terms of moving past it, I say start with baby steps (something you DO feel comfortable with) and gradually challenge yourself to be more public with your brand and your messaging. Putting yourself out there takes courage and confidence, but you can’t hide your beautiful business away or it will never have the chance to grow! I think it’s fair to say that the best way to start building your personal brand is simply to do it. Like with anything in life, the more you overthink it, the more unachievable it becomes. Break the whole process down in to smaller goals, and just get started.
If you want to learn more about creating a brand, I was recently interviewed about personal branding by the incredibly talented Steph Taylor of Wildbloom. Check out the interview on the Socialette podcast.