The Whys and Hows of Building Your Personal Brand

Having a personal brand means having recognized core values; being memorable to customers for vital reasons; having authority and influence and a competitive edge in your industry. Your personal brand is what gets you noticed and what helps you establish trust amongst your audience.

Why you should build your personal brand

  1. Standing out from the competition. Each of your competitors has a personal brand – and whether you like it or not, if you sell a product to an audience, you do too. Your own personal brand is what makes prospective customers choose you (and your current customers stay with you). Your brand will be a complex mix of your personality; your knowledge; how you relate to your audience; your presence and it will be unique to you – it’s what makes your audience choose you over your competition. Your personal brand is unique to you and this uniqueness is what makes your personal brand an important business asset, i.e. it cannot be imitated by others in your industry.
  2. Building trust and credibility. Companies invest huge resources to build their brands as they understand it’s a shortcut to the heads, hearts – and wallets – of their customers. Your personal brand is no different – properly developed it gives you an insurmountable marketing advantage, i.e. competitors can provide similar services/products but they can’t be you. Over time, customers will like your work, your values, your personality and will trust you and what you offer because of what your personal brand represents to them. Your personal brand becomes an integral part of your actions, interactions and your products.
  3. Grow your audience. Your brand communicates your mission – why you do what you do – and your core values, i.e. what you believe in, how you treat others, the actions you take. People gravitate towards those act a certain way and who share similar values and interests to their own, i.e. your personal brand can grow your audience and increase loyalty among existing members.
  4. Increasing confidence. Being an expert with an established personal brand gives your business the means to generate repeat sales. It can be the foundation and fuel to build your business. Having a clear definition of who you are and what you do within your niche makes establishing trust, building relationships and generating sales a much easier process.

How to build your personal brand

  1. Identify your core values and passions. The first step in building your brand is to identify your passions, interests and core values, as well as your primary motivators. Your brand captures who you are, what you believe, how you act. It’s what attracts people to you and makes them choose you (and, by extension, your products) over the competition. Once identified, build your products and customer interactions around these core aspects.
  2. Write a personal statement. This can be just a few sentences. A personal statement is a way to keep track of what’s important to you and your success as you build your business. This should include the details of what you ultimately want your company to be like, and what you are hoping to achieve in the short and/or the long term. It’s important as you don’t want to build a business you don’t believe in or which you do not enjoy running. Your statement will likely evolve over time.
  3. Evaluate your expertise. For your personal brand to be a genuine representation of your expertise, you have to have a thorough understanding of it, who you serve and what you offer. To achieve that, you need to “interview yourself” and ask the following questions:
    – What are my strengths and weaknesses?
    What kind of experience and training do I have?
    What is unique about me, my qualifications and expertise?
    – Who do I want to help?
    – What is my unique selling point, i.e. why would customers choose me over my competition?
  4. Identify your goals. You want to build a business that meshes well with your personal life. A business should be life-enhancing, not something that makes you unhappy. Make a list of your short- and long-term goals, both personal and professional. Set goals for the following areas of your life: career, financial, relationships, health, leisure. Goal-setting does not have to be complicated, it’s simply a list of what you want. Understanding your area of expertise and what’s important to you will help you identify the key elements of your personal brand and – more importantly – build a business that complements, not complicates, your life.
  5. Don’t be a pale imitation. Resist the temptation to be something you’re not. It’s exhausting, it will make you unhappy and your audience will see through it. It’s better to carve out your own niche and identity than to be a poor imitation of someone else. As you’re starting out and you’re unsure of the brand you want to project one tip is to concentrate on delivering value and less on the delivery itself. As time goes on you will find your stride and unique voice. You often see this in successful people – their past performances are noticeably less confident than their present ones – as to be expected.

Takeaway points

  1. When trying to market and monetize your know-how, a personal brand is a valuable asset when it comes to growing an audience; building loyalty; and (pre-)selling your products, both current and future. It takes consistent effort however and does not happen overnight.
  2. Build a brand that supports your core values and what you want to get out of your business. Don’t create a business you’ll hate or which forces you to be someone you’re not. It’s unsustainable and your audience will know.
  3. Your personal brands is a great business asset. It helps you increase sales and because it’s unique, it cannot be copied by your competition.

Action steps

  1. Write a list of (i) your goals – personal, professional, career, relationship, fun, and (ii) your values. This will serve as a stepping stone towards building a personal brand that aligns with your goals and your core values.
  2. What do you want to be known for in your industry? What products do you want to create? What do you want people to think when they hear your name? How will you stand out from your competitors? Why will people buy from you? The answers to these questions will help you with how you position yourself in your market.
  3. Do you have a professional looking website and logo? If not, hire a designer on Upwork. You will be able to get a professional looking WordPress site for about $100-200 and a logo for about $50.

Photo credit: Nani Puspasari via / CC BY-ND 2.0

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