In an effort, to keep this post somewhat of a manageable length I am going to make the introduction short and sweet.
Branding, especially, personal branding is a must in today's market. It will help you communicate your unique value proposition in a way that is both memorable and, at the same time, builds trust and credibility. Your personal brand will help differentiate you from others and will become a critical, underlying component for a lot of the personal and professional decisions you take.
As such, given the importance of your brand, you'll want to make sure you define it, and its core components, correctly. (I have a whole post on why branding matters and what these core components are. Click here to read it …)
These are some of my quick, easy to follow, tips for building a strong personal brand.
Get to know yourself. You are your brand. Understand your past, your present and where you'd like to be in the future. It is the combination of all three that will help you discover who you are and what you have to offer.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Discover your USP, the unique value your brand can provide. What makes, what you have to offer, different than what's already out there? Where's the value in that difference? Knowing and owning this will help you manage your brand worth.
Mindfulness and Intentionality
Be present and fully conscious of the decisions you are making day-to-day. They will impact you and your personal brand. Also, ensure that these choices are made with intent or purpose. Think about how they will affect your long-term branding objectives? How will your actions or words reflect on your brand? Will it alter your brand reputation? Think before you act.
So, if you're your brand, then why do you have practice at being you? You don't. However, you should practice how you communicate who you are. There's a difference. Define your elevator pitch. Practice it. Practice using different channels where your audience might be, or different mediums that might help bring dynamism to your brand.
This is possibly my biggest, most important, tip. Once you've found your brand voice, purpose, message, visuals, etc. use them systematically. Post consistently and always maintain your level of quality. This
will help others remember who you are, what you do, what you stand for and what they can expect from you. As such, it will help you build trust. Trust, in turn, brings loyalty, community, repeat interactions and so forth.
Your brand voice is made up of your brand tone, personality, language and non-verbal communication. All of these components put together can help your brand be more relatable, accessible and memorable.
Brand Purpose and Values
Understanding your why is so important. What is the reason your brand exists? Also, what does your brand stand for? The answers to these question will help your brand work towards a clear vision and at the same time, will give your brand context. This context is vital when it comes to ensuring relevance and creating deeper rooted, emotional connections with your target.
This should be an overarching "theme," if you will, in everything you do. Just be you. Accept who you are and let that translate into how you communicate and interact with others. Super simple.
I am intentionally putting this point next. Always know your audience and let that guide how you share your brand. That is not to say you should alter your brand for every target you have, but design your brand and your content with them in mind. Also, choose your platforms, methods, and mediums accordingly.
You have to hustle. Defining your personal brand can take a lot of work and dedication. You have to commit it.
Marketing & Sales
Along with being proactive, you have to understand the art, and science, of marketing. Defining and designing your brand isn't enough, you have to know how to share your value, generate interest and sell yourself.
Comparing yourself to others can be quite unhealthy. You have to remember that everyone's brand journey is different and you simply might be at different stages. However, it's good to keep an eye on influencers and others your industry or field. This will help you gauge what you're doing right and what you can improve on.
Diversify the platforms you're on. You can have a blog, a website, be on different social media sites, have print materials, etc. However, always remember to be where your audience is and remember, to be consistent. You don't want to have so many platforms that you leave some abandoned. Take on how much you can handle.
By producing your own content you're not only working on your thought leadership, but you're also increasing your visibility and credibility. You have the power to communicate your value through the quality and substance of your work.
Curating content is great too. By sharing the works of others, you are letting your community know what you find of interest. Moreover, your forging relationships with others across your industry who create useful content and are letting them know you exist, leaving the door open for collaboration and partnerships.
Carrying out a S.W.O.T analysis is so important. Don't just do it once, do it often. It assesses your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as a brand. It can help you gauge where your brand is currently at and where it has room to grow/improve.
Creativity and Innovation
Always be open to innovation and thinking outside of the box. Your target's needs and wants are constantly changing, so in order to remain relevant, and of value, you must anticipate these changes and provide unique solutions.
Going along with number 16, be flexible. Your brand must evolve and grow along side of your target, your industry, and the market. Technology will also throw curveballs. (Examples: AR, VR, Video, Live video). Simply learn to adjust and adapt.
Much like a corporate brand, your personal brand can have brand advocates. Think of all your friends, co-workers, partners, clients, etc. they often can vouch for what you do and what you stand for. So, use them. Allow them to put in a good word for you or introduce you to others.
Take a genuine interest in the relationships you build online and offline. Your network is more than a series of individuals you email or tweet, they're your friends, your advocates, and your tribe. Personalize your interaction with them. Get to know them, find common interests, check in with them. They'll remember and appreciate you for it.
Create an interaction around your brand. Pose questions, engage in the comments section, create polls, employ gamification tactics, respond to tweets and so on. That interaction will incentivize people to share information that might be of value to you and will really give you an opportunity to learn more about your target. Plus, it can help you build long-lasting relationships with your tribe members.
Think about your customer journey as a whole. What does it feel like for your audience to engage with your brand? What emotions are they meant to feel? What is their takeaway supposed to be? Does it align with your brand voice, message, purpose, values, and goals?
Make sure your brand is approachable. A lot of times, you'll see this boo-boo being made my big influencers and/or celebrities. They forget where they started and that others might not necessarily understand or relate to what they're saying. Always remain humble and create content that all can take comprehend and extrapolate value from.
Be open to feedback! Let it motivate you to keep moving forward and inspire you to make changes when needed!
Invest in good brand design. Your visual brand identity will help you build a cohesive image across different platforms, online and offline. A good brand design will communicate your value, tell your brand story, appeal to your audience and increase brand recognition. It can also help you position your brand and communicate your brand values, thus building trust and positive brand reputation.
Use the power of narrative to connect with your audience. Let other's get to know who you are, what you do, what you stand for and why, through stories. There's an emotional component to storytelling that will allow your audience to see your brand from a different perspective. Plus, stories can make your brand more relatable.
Listen. Listen to what your audience, competitors, partners, influencers, industry leaders, etc. are saying. The more your informed about, the easier it'll be for you to adapt, grow, innovate, adjust, remain relevant and so forth.
Having a measurement system in place to track how a brand is doing is always a good idea. Offline you can always ask for feedback, send out surveys, log offline interaction, and outcomes, etc. Online, however, you can use analytics. There are many platforms out there that offer these types of services. That being said, many sites have built-in analytics tools you can use for free. Twitter, for example, has a great one.
Sometimes, subtle changes in your branding and/or posts can have a significant impact. You can always use A/B testing to try different visuals, calls to action, typographies, colors, text, etc. Obviously, be reasonable with the amount changes you make. You always want your brand to remain cohesive.
Learn to say no. Sometimes, although it can be quite difficult to do so, it can be in your or your brand's best interest to pass on certain offers. Make sure that collaborations, partnerships, content and jobs you do align with your personal brand objectives and values. It's okay to wait until the right proposal comes along.
That being said, when you find an opportunity to collaborate with someone where it's mutually beneficial and with someone who you feel will add value to your brand do it. You can learn from each other, combine resources, expand your network and your reach.
Don't forget, that your personal brand exists offline too. Ensure that there is consistency between both. The easiest way to do that is by being authentic. Also, take full advantage of offline opportunities to build a network and/or promote your brand.
Your brand can benefit from having mentors. These are people who can provide you with guidance or advice. Often times, they have been in your same position and can provide invaluable insight into your brand journey.
This is, probably, my second most important tip. Find value in life-long learning and stay curious. Experience different things, seek out new information, delve into new topics, partner and/or learn from other industries, etc. The more your exposed to, the more your brand will grow. Plus, lifelong learning leads to increased creativity and innovation.
Remember to enjoy the process. You are simply working towards a better you!