The Nuts + Bolts of Personal Branding

The Nuts + Bolts of Personal Branding

As the Web gets increasingly more social, it's essential for each and every one of us to strategically take our personal branding into consideration. Just like your products and services, your personal brand tells everybody about your unique characteristics.

When you've successfully built a personal brand, your customers and fans will better understand why you do what you do. This engenders trust and credibility, which are both essential. When people know and trust you, they're more comfortable dealing with you and more likely to buy your products or services.

 

Here are a few more reason why it's so important to consider:

  • THE REAL YOU – On social media, everybody loves people who are 'real.' They're not into the sales talk or corporate image. Branding tells people not just what you do but what you stand for, which is even more important. Your brand vision is what stays in people's minds, not the specific goods that you offer.
  • PERCEIVED VALUE – People respond emotionally to brands. When you're well-branded, you have a name in your industry. You're seen as a key player and this raises your value in your customers' eyes. This also means you can charge more for your services.
  • YOUR EDGE – Your personal brand helps you beat the competition by showing the unique things that you offer. The competition may win in other areas, but they can't compete with your unique natural qualities. Branding helps you carve out your own special niche in the marketplace.
  • IMAGE CONTROL – Let’s face it, you've got a personal brand whether you realize it or not. Your personal brand is your reputation. Are you in control of it? When you handle your own branding, you can take control. This allows you to better deal with attacks or negative comments.
  • BUILD A BUZZ – If you brand yourself well, you can get a buzz going. {<<< Word of mouth, not the other kind!} Your name gets passed around by your happy customers and fans, and this means that you get more business through referrals. Branding has a kind of snowball effect if you do it right.

5 KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF A STELLAR PERSONAL BRAND

The rise of social media has made it more important than ever to have your own personal brand. Like a product brand, your personal brand tells people who you are and what value you bring to the world – whether you're a growing business or a job hunter.

Below are 5 key characteristics that it needs to have.

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Remember that the purpose of all of your branding efforts is to set yourself apart from everybody else. Use these creative methods to show how you're different and the unique value you bring to what you do. Branding really takes off when your personal passion comes through, so let it shine.

Which leads us to this… when people discuss personal branding, they always tell you to be yourself. They say that the unique personality shining through your work helps to brand you. But for most of us, it's scary to reveal too much. It's just like going to a party where you don't know anyone and wondering what to say or do. In the back of your mind, you're saying, 'But what if they don't like me?'

THE EXPERTS ARE RIGHT. YOU SHOULD BE YOURSELF. ALWAYS.

Your personality, along with your promise of value and quality, brands you. You should share your family, your hobbies, and your opinions. This makes you unique and memorable. It builds a relationship with your audience and the details of your personal life may resonate with your fans.

Online, people want only realness and sincerity. They don't like anything fake, and they can smell it from a mile away. When you're playing a part and they know it, this won't build the trust you need. It also turns you into someone who doesn't take a firm stand on anything, which is terrible for branding.

If you're afraid to let the real you show, that's only natural. You should show your personality just like dipping your toe into a cold swimming pool to get used to it. Put something out there and see how your audience responds to it. Do you get likes and folks commenting? Or do they all ignore the post?

Branding is about connecting with your audience, so monitor the results of what you do and adjust accordingly. If you show them pictures of your kids and they go crazy with the comments, keep it up. If you tell them about your passion for stamp collecting and get only Z's, don't bother mentioning it again.

ABOVE ALL ELSE REMEMBER THAT IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU

Here's a big secret about personal branding that will save you a lot of trouble – it's not all about you. Actually, your branding efforts are all about your audience. Even though you're showcasing your accomplishments, your talents, your strengths, and your passions, it's your promise to them that's going to pay off. For everything you do, put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, 'Why should I care?' That's what they'll be doing.

What really establishes your brand isn't the image that you create or the personal tidbits you share; it's the work that you do. When you deliver quality and truly help people, you'll successfully brand yourself.

Personal branding is a long-term strategy that pays off down the road, but you have to start somewhere. Here are eight ideas on how to creatively set yourself apart from the herd.

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THE STEPS IN SETTING UP YOUR OWN PERSONAL BRAND SYSTEM

I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this, but it bears repeating: branding needs to be consistent, and that's why you need to have a system in place. This includes all of the things you need to do before you start branding as well as routine tasks you'll continue to perform on an ongoing basis. Everything needs to be as efficient as possible. This is how the branding pros do it and you can do it as well.

  • BE CLEAR FROM THE BEGINNING – Write down a statement about your brand's vision. It should be as short and concise as possible, and should include who you are, what you do, and your promise to your audience. Whether or not you use this as an official statement doesn't matter; what matters here is just getting it clear for yourself. What do you want people to remember about you? What's your unique position in the market?
  • IDENTIFY YOUR NATURAL STRENGTHS – Your natural strengths provide the engine for your personal brand. It's these strengths that will shine through everything you do. What are you good at naturally without even trying? Discover these strengths and figure out ways to make them work for you. When you know what you do well, you don't need to be egocentric or fake. Your promises will be real.
  • CHOOSE YOUR TOOLS – The Internet provides you with lots of avenues for getting your brand message in front of the people who need to hear it. These include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, your own blog, forums and groups, press release sites, podcasts directories, and many more. Brainstorm a list of these avenues for exposure and decide which you're going to use. You should also devote time to searching out new sites and strategies for use.
  • CREATE YOUR DESIGN – Your design features should be consistent. Choose fonts, colors, phrases and images that embody your brand. Take a good headshot that reflects the image you want to convey. Make sure it's not too close or too far away. Choose other images and templates that you'll use.
  • CREATE A SCHEDULE – Take all of your routine branding tasks and budget and schedule them. Decide how much time you're going to devote each day to each task. If you're not sure what these tasks should be, start with your goal (the statement you wrote to clarify). How can you achieve that? Keep asking yourself 'how' until you arrive at concrete tasks that will get you closer to it.
  • GET ORGANIZED – Put all of your tools and resources in one place. Social bookmarking sites are great for this. When you have everything organized, it saves you lots of time and makes your personal branding much more efficient.

The most important thing is to monitor everything you do and look for results. If certain daily tasks aren't getting you results even after a few weeks, drop them and focus on something else. Whenever possible, split test your images, posts, and offers to see which version your audience prefers. Because things are always changing in the online world, devote some time to searching out new ideas. Stay creative!

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About the Author

Andrea Hubbert, principal at Hub+company, is a versatile integrated marketing communications professional with one primary passion: to empower creative individuals and their companies to design and market the business lives of their dreams.

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