By Jessica Krysinska
Forget the logo, forget the color and font guidelines, and forget finding that perfect company name. This may be shocking coming from a graphic design enthusiast, but when it comes to establishing a personal brand, those should be seen as embellishments. Imagine building your brand the same way you build a sundae. You don’t start with the decorative whip cream, chocolate drizzle, and the cherry on top. You need to build the base first and make sure it is delicious, or else your audience will dump you as soon as they get a taste of what’s underneath.
Branding isn’t just slapping a logo, name, and tagline on everything and hoping that it sticks. Proof that you don’t even need these elements is seen on many Twitter accounts’ biographies. There are many social influencers that have built notable reputations by simply using their personal name, photograph, and voice.
There are many different approaches to establishing a brand, but here are my personal favorite steps to get you on your way.
STEP 1: Define your goal and target audience.
A common reason why someone would choose to start investing in their personal brand is because they are looking for a job or promotion. There can also be more than one reason. I encourage you to be honest and write all of them down in order of importance. Maybe you want to become famous, that’s great! Write that down because that will add tactics to your branding and content strategy.
Now that you defined your goal, define your target audience. If you’re seeking a job, good audiences to target are professionals. If you’re seeking fame, your audience could include individuals that share similar interests as you but should be shrunk down according to your niche.
STEP 2: Narrow down your niche.
Unless you’re David Ogilvy, chances are that you won’t be able to dominate the entire advertising industry. It is more reasonable and clearer to your audience when you find a niche within an industry, and stick to it. Yes, you are allowed to post every so often about other topics to show that you are well rounded and knowledgeable. However, having a narrowed niche will allow you to better achieve the goals you created in step 1. Many HR representatives will agree that your profile looks more appealing when your specialty is obvious and matches the job you are applying to. Your resume and your online presences should represent the same interests. You will be able to target individuals more precisely because they are usually seeking information about a specific topic rather than a broad overview.
STEP 3: Be a resource.
If you haven’t read the book Youtility by Jay Baer, I suggest you take a look. This book is beneficial in any step of the process, whether you are personal branding, starting your own company, or helping someone grow their company. The premise behind this book is that brands receive better reputations and more loyalty when it become a consumer’s top-of-mind or go-to source when seeking information. Think of the brands that first come to your mind for fitness tips or cooking recipes, and ask yourself why you visit their page first before anyone else. It’s because they are giving you the resources, are experts in their topic, and have had a consistent reputation. When you narrow down your niche, it is important that you become an expert in it as well. I would suggest sharing your personal sources that helped you develop your skills. Your audience will appreciate you and may become loyal to your personal brand. They will see that you are not only invested in yourself, but also invested in your followers and the industry as a whole.
STEP 4: Be yourself.
The point of a personal brand is that you need to make it personal. Your personal brand needs to offer something that nobody else has, and that’s you! When establishing a brand it can be tempting to make yourself look and sound professional just for the sake of your credibility; however, this can sometimes come off as monotone and boring. For your brand’s voice, I would suggest being your better self. Do not filter out the hardships and stay authentic. Keep your topics on brand, join a few side conversations or TweetChats to show that you’re a real person, and throw in a relevant GIF every now and then.
If you’d like further help and in-depth advice, check out this guide. I have it bookmarked!
The Complete Guide To Building Your Personal Brand.