You’ve put all that effort into building your business brand; you’ve designed an awesome logo, used colours that connect with your target market, built a fantastic website, printed amazing business cards, but is your personal brand connecting with your Target Market?
A personal brand this is the practice of people developing themselves and their careers as a professional and specific brand, much in the same way as a marketing team builds an image around a product or orgainsation. The term was first coined in the late 90s by Tom Peter’s, author of ‘In Search of Excellence’. In short, personal branding is about creating an image or impression in the mind of others about who or what you stand for.
You don’t need to be an entrepreneur or a business owner to establish a personal brand; in fact in the corporate world, many people create a personal brand to propel their careers. Your personal brand comprises more than just your clothes, it encompasses your online presence, content that you create and behaviours that you manifest.
Several years ago I worked for an organisation that used an external accountant who was a family friend of the owner. He was a really nice guy but he turned up to the office in a beat up old car, came up the stairs always out of breath with food down his shirt, sat down with a beaten up laptop and always had body odour issues. This guy was dealing with a company that turned over millions of dollars, but that he would turn up looking like he couldn’t rub 20 cents together. His personal presence did not speak of success and I never felt confident with any of the decisions that he made and as a result, I never trusted him or the decisions he made. I know that might sound superficial to some people, but as human beings, we make decisions about the people that we know, like and trust from simple visual cues. It is said we take only 7 seconds to form an opinion, what are you doing to make that impression count?
Here are 9 ways you can build your personal brand
- Own your name as a website. It’s pretty obvious, but your name is probably the first step in building your brand. You don’t need to have a massive website if you don’t have a product or business yet, but make sure that the images and your brief bio speak to the brand trying to build. Even if you are an employee, owning your own name’s URL will allow you to market yourself today as well as open opportunities for the future. If your name is already taken, try adding your middle name, your middle initial or just your first and middle names. I’m sure you can come up with a relevant URL that relates to your name. Whatever you do don’t go calling yourself something silly like johnnylightning.net (unless you’re a racer) or suziestargazer.org (unless you’re an astrologist).
- Keep your email address professional. As per the examples above, be careful with the use you use for your email. I once received an email from an individual and the email address was the person’s name followed by ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ This person was a professional, but I could never take that person seriously again.
- Be sure that everything you do online is congruent with the brand you are trying to build. That means being careful about what you say and do on social media. For example, if you’re trying to portray yourself as a credible child care owner, you don’t want your social media to feature you partying, always out late at night or being crazy. Everything you say and do on social media is there forever and even though you might be deleting it from your personal account, nothing on the Internet ever goes away, so be judicious about what you post.
- Create a Facebook page with your own name and then maybe a tag of what you do. Look at other social media platforms and do the same for them. It may not be necessary for you to be on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Facebook so choose the appropriate social media platforms that will represent your brand best.
- Create content that reflects your personal brand. Owning your own website name allows you to create blog posts – these should be relevant and of interest for your particular target market, these can be shared across social media as well. Make sure the whatever you are creating speaks to your target market and when commenting on other social media posts, ensure these are in line with the brand image you seek to portray. Of course, this applies to offline as well as online.
- Hang out with other strong ‘brands’. We’ve all heard the saying that you are the sum total of the five people you hang out with the most. This will also help you select the most appropriate networking opportunities out there.
- Dr Alan Pease body language expert states that your methodology is as important as your content. Every gesture, facial expression and posture communicate a message to your market and what you stand for. What is your body language saying about you – are you open, closed, defensive, friendly? The way you deliver your message and convey yourself is contributing to how people perceive you.
- Work with a personal stylist who can make sure that your image is in line with the brand you’re trying to create for yourself. My friend Annie Sophia – Stylist to the Stars, works with business people to ensure sure they maximise their potential whether they’re entrepreneurs or employees. Annie Sophia has had amazing success with individuals, so if you lack the confidence to build your personal style around the brand you’re trying to envisage, then I would highly encourage you to speak to somebody like Annie Sophia.
Your personal brand should be a part of your overall brand strategy. Being congruent from your logo to your online presence and content, as well as the clothes you wear and the way you deliver your message are all contributing factors when connecting with your desired Target Market. It’s these ‘one percenters’ that will put you head and shoulders above the crowd so, so what is your personal brand saying about you and is it connecting with your Target Market?