Who are you? What do you stand for? What are your hobbies, passions, or interests? What are you good at?
These kinds of questions can help you determine how to shape a personal brand of your very own. Below, I’d like to talk about why it’s important to develop your own public image – also known as personal branding – to serve you in whatever path of life you choose.
Start With Your “Why”
It sounds a little cliché, but the truth is that when you develop your personal brand you need to establish a foundation of why you’re putting effort into branding yourself.
I’ve been working on mine for a long time, and I’ve made a solid attempt at making sure it encompasses my personal identity and everything that I’m both passionate and good at.
When you ask yourself why you’re creating your own personal brand, here are some benefits that you may not be aware of:
- A personal brand can showcase your personality, specific skills or talents that you have, and/or even serve as a working resume for a dynamic career path.
- You can sell goods or services as a sole proprietorship in your state and write off your expenses every quarter that you normally wouldn’t be able to if you just had a job (cha-ching! Tax refunds!).
- You can more easily create a community of loyal fans than if you ran a normal business because you will be able to engage with everyone on a personal level.
- You can build a personal brand completely online and build your reputation one person at a time – this will eventually become an exponential growth, and your content will eventually go viral in its own way.
Develop Your Brand
Once you’ve figured out your “why”, it’s time to get to work build your brand.
Just like any business, your brand expresses your individuality and uniqueness in a competitive, noisy world. However, you have a major advantage over big businesses in one special way:
There’s only one YOU.
Now, that fact alone is very powerful in that no one else can copy your exact style. In fact, this has led to “social media influencer” becoming a job title for many; they are sponsored by major companies so they can get micro-grassroots movement among that influencer’s personal brand.
Just go to YouTube and look for YouTubers who have millions of views. They probably run ads in the beginning of their videos, give shout-outs to specific brands during their video, and wear some kind of branded “swag” from the company sponsoring them.
This is the power of developing your brand and using it to your advantage. Let’s take a look at some clear, actionable steps you can take to actually build your brand.
Express Your Style
When you think of a “brand”, what comes to mind? Colors? Shapes? Stereotypes of people?
Let’s take McDonald’s, for example. Many in the U.S. associate McDonald’s with overweight, obese individuals who live in poverty, or perhaps highway travelers grabbing a quick bite to eat. Its yellow arches, always associated with its specific shade of red.
The franchise has completely modernized its brand in the last decade by rebuilding hundreds of its restaurants across the country. Their logo was redesigned into a minimalist design, their restaurants fitted with computer ordering systems to cut down on staff costs, and their online ordering system got a complete overhaul.
No matter how much McDonald’s tries to reinvent its branding, however, it will always be associated with whatever the public perceives it to be and who it attracts.
Your brand, however, can be completely different. Let’s say you choose three colors to represent who you are: black, purple, and red.
Your logo is designed with these three colors, your website features black, purple, and red all over the place, and all of your swag features these colors.
The difference between you and a big company is that you can change this whenever you feel like it (hopefully strategically), and your followers will still like you for who you are – not your branding. Still, things like your colors and how your website is designed helps to define your personal brand.
Build Your Presence
Once you’ve figured out what sort of “style” you have, it’s time to actually build your online presence.
The first thing you’ll want to develop is your website. This acts as your digital “base of operations” where fans can learn about YOU.
Websites should always consist of at least a Home page, an About page, and a Contact page. From there you can build out the elements that make up the content that will surround your personal brand – blog articles, videos, photo galleries, podcast episodes, free resources for your visitors, and maybe even an ecommerce store.
Once your website is built, you’ll want to begin the process of content creation.
The process of creating content depends on what you’re trying to push out to the world. If you want to be a YouTuber and provide tutorials to your fans on a given topic, you’ll be able to upload those videos directly to YouTube and then embed them directly on your website in a gallery format.
Perhaps you’re a photographer and want to display your work, or maybe you’re a musician and want to showcase your music to the world. You might even be an artist and publish comics or digital designs that you’ve created.
Whatever you’ve decided to be known for, your content is the fuel that will power your personal brand and help you gain recognition on the World Wide Web.
No matter what you decide to do with your personal brand, you can use it to support whatever life or career path you choose to take.
My personal brand is focused on highlighting my skills and back up my claim as an expert media producer and marketer. As the CMO for the U.S. Veterans Family of Companies and a media freelancer, my personal brand helps me network with new colleagues and other business professionals around the world.
What does your personal brand do?