How to build an effective personal brand
Call it what you want, we are all constantly building our ‘personal brands’. In the same way, marketing is built on your perception of value, our CVs, social media & even human interactions are constantly shaping the way we are seen by others or by the market more broadly.
Whilst it’s important to remember that the only person’s opinion that matters for your personal brand is your own, let’s walk through 6 mini tips for turbocharging your online presence.
#1 Find your focus
In a crowded marketplace, make yourself stand out by finding a lane that you can really own. As Adam Smiley Poswolsky, millennial workplace expert and author of The Breakthrough Speaker put it: “Carve a niche and then carve a niche within your niche. The best personal brands are very specific.”
Figure out your target audience and the value you can bring to them. Ensure that everything from your content, your visual presence, and even your tone are catered towards their needs. The narrower and more focused your brand is, the easier it is for people to remember who you are. It’s easier to build up than knockdown.
#2 Be genuine
No one likes a fake. In a world of questionable truth and information warfare, the best thing you can be is genuine. The more obviously a brand is a copycat, the more the audience will call out the perpetrator for it.
If you are really good at what you do and you clearly love it, this tip won’t be necessary. Your genuine passion will most likely shine through and build the personal brand you want over time.
#3 Learn from the ups and downs
An effective personal brand isn’t built overnight. To use a classic example, Oprah Winfrey began by going through several style iterations on a small local show before defining her voice into one of the most influential personal brands in the world.
Being consistent and being ready to fail will help take you out of your comfort zone. Only by pushing yourself and experimenting will you find the personal brand that works for you. The very best brands always come from repeated trial and error, mistakes and failures and not from instant perfection
#4 Tell a story
Think of the X-Factor, American Idol, and many reality shows over the past decades. Stories were used to imprint certain contestants’ stories on the viewer’s mind. Personal branding starts with a similar premise that people react better to stories.
No need to be sad to get people on your side, simply be yourself and let people know what it is that makes you the person you are. Take a look below at Gary Vaynerchuk’s talk on how storytelling can help you sell anything from a product to a brand.
#5 Be visual
Finding your focus allows you to cater to text to your audience but the copy can only take you so far. Defining a clear visual style helps people identify your content in a crowded feed or resonate with your message more effectively.
As Fyiona Yong, director and millennial leadership coach (ICF ACC) puts it “you have to demonstrate consistency across your communication, gravitas, and appearance. Don’t underestimate how tiny inconsistencies can derail personal brand effectiveness.” From your headshots through to your daily Insta stories, make sure you experiment and find a visual style that best captures what you stand for.
#6 Set targets and measure
In the same way, you’d have KPIs and measure a marketing campaign, you should be doing the same for your personal brand. Whether it’s simple targets like a number of mailing list subscribers, an increased number of followers, or even paid customers for your event, building a personal brand needs incremental targets.
Don’t expect the world on day one. As mentioned before, many famous personal brands like Oprah Winfrey and Gary Vaynerchuk have taken time, consistency, and value-add to connect with their audiences. Use them as an example of how you can build your own target brand and remember to talk to others if you’re in doubt about how to hit those next targets.