Updated: Jul 8, 2022
Everyone has a personal brand. That’s a given. You are here, visiting mine.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to build a successful one – one that elevates their visibility, attracts the right clients and opportunities, and grows their impact. Instead, many people find their personal brand is actually working against them! There’s also a lot of confusion about the difference between business brands, influencer brands and personal brands. This is a quick overview of the step-by-step, simple path to your most effective personal brand, which is the foundation for both influencer and business brands.
Keep in mind, it is equally vital for leaders and executives, who have no interest in building an online business or social presence, to still invest in their personal brand development. That’s because a personal brand is the ticket to attracting all the opportunities and partners that help us grow the way we envision.
STEP 1: Establish Your Core Values
Core values are unique and personal to you. We aren’t talking about family values here. We are talking about what lights you up, the adjectives people would use to describe you, the priorities you give your time and attention to – all wrapped up into three or four words.
Your core values are the essence of who you are, and none of us are taught this in school. In fact, we give it very little thought. But when we get perfectly clear about what our core values are, we start living in alignment with them. We stand up taller. We know where to focus. Decisions are easier. We embody those values in every conversation and action – and what’s more – we attract opportunities and relationships that help us be even more of what those values are.
If you aren’t sure what your core values are, grab your free copy of my core values worksheet. Find out now. It is a great beginning for the freedom a personal brand gives you.
STEP 2: Craft Your Brand Vision
A brand vision is written like a mission statement—in the present tense, as if you've already accomplished it. It's clear and paints a vivid picture. A well-written brand vision helps you consciously move from your current state to where you’d like to be. One classic formula for a brand statement follows this template: "I help ___ do ___." For example, an executive might say, “I help manufacturing organizations improve their processes to reduce waste and grow profits.” Or an artist might say, “I help homeowners to surround themselves with inspiring beauty and live their best lives.” A coach might say, “I help leaders lean into their growth edge by asking the profound and vital questions that move them forward.”
Leadership begins with communicating your “why.” As author Simon Sinek says, "People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it."
STEP 3: Decide What You Want To Be Known For
It is impossible to be known for your job title, or your business model alone. Other highly skilled executives, artists, authors, speakers, coaches, etc. are everywhere. That’s not to say it is impossible to be known and stand out! Standing out is the whole point of personal branding. Think of it this way: If you became known as the world’s go-to expert on a specific topic, what would you choose? Make sure you love it, because you will spend a lot of time with it, seeing and discussing it from endless angles.
The only way to create a compelling personal brand is by becoming the recognized authority in a particular niche. Research the competition in your lane or market, and determine how you will set yourself apart. What makes you unique? What do you see differently than others? Do you challenge the status quo in any way that is beneficial?
For instance, as a coach, I focus women leaders in transition, with a specialty in intuitive decision-making and busting through imposter syndrome. I know those areas all too well, from personal experience. I understand the full spectrum of leadership challenges – from change management to time management and, yes, of course, relationship management. But I focus on key decisions in transition.
By leveraging your special gifts, and your unique views, you’ll be more likely to stand out from the crowd. Your personal brand should be an accurate reflection of your passions, skills, experiences, values and beliefs.
STEP 4: Define Your Audience
One of the worst mistakes you can make as you build a personal brand is attempting to appeal to everyone. Another is believing that because you are operating inside a larger organization that you don’t have an audience to serve.
For both those reasons, it is crucial to define your audience clearly before you consider yourself an effective brand. Some call defining your audience finding your “niche”, but if you are inside an organization, your audience might be your boss, or a future team.
So, whom do you want to serve? What do they love? What do they struggle with (which might or might now be directly related to your work). How can you specifically help them get where they want to go? Because ultimately, brands are about serving others, and helping others.
Never forget that.
A valuable exercise is to create your target profile (or avatar). The more you understand your audience, the better prepared you will be to deliver the solutions that they want and need, and that will help you grow in the direction you want to go. To understand your audience, download my free Target Audience Worksheet.
STEP 5: Develop A Consistent Message
What message do you want to consistently reinforce in your content and your marketing? Once you decide what it is, use the same message across all your communication channels. Consistency builds trust and credibility with your audience. In addition to keeping your tone and personality the same, use design elements (like your logo) consistently as well. Finding your unique voice and staying true to it is one of the keys to creating a powerful personal brand.
STEP 6: Be Authentic
Your personal brand shouldn’t be a persona. It’s not an invention. It must be authentically you, or it won’t work. Once you are clear on your values, and have figured out whom, and how, you serve, then embracing that uniqueness attracts attention. Other’s will begin to seek you out specifically for your views and insights.
People want to interact with other people, and that means being real –including being vulnerable and sharing tough lessons you have learned along the way. Who are you every day? The more authentic you make your personal brand; the more likely others will resonate with your brand. The more they resonate, the most they will trust you. Ultimately, effective brands have established a level of trust that is difficult to break.
STEP 7: Create Your Style + Content
Too many brands jump immediately to this step, creating their style and content too soon by skipping right over steps 1-6. They are too eager to create what I call “the shiny stuff” like a logo, or website, if they have a business. Or they start lobbying for the raise or promotion before they have established themselves in their organization. An effective Step 7 is only possible if you have done the work of Steps 1-6.
Your style and content are a reflection of both who you are, and who you aspire to become. That is a fine line to walk, and takes careful thought and consideration. Your values and vision are who you are. You might be serving your target audience, or this might be who you aspire to be. You probably have heard of “dressing for the role you want to get” and that is exactly what your content and style are about.
So if you aren’t already an expert in your topic, then study it, and share what you learn from the experts who are ahead of you. You don’t need to be the expert out of the gate. Gain your expertise and content by affiliation first, but do be sure to add your own insights along the way. Align yourself with similar brands. For example an artist might align herself with interior decorators or feng shui designers. A leadership coach might align herself with a change expert or an enneagram specialist. And a mid-level manager might join an executive women’s leadership group, and read books by top women leaders.
STEP 8: Build Your Presence
These days, it isn't easy to have a compelling personal brand without an online presence. That doesn’t mean you must be on every possible channel, or that online it the only way to grow your personal brand visibility – it’s just the fastest way. You can grow your brand through networking, blogging, writing a book, speaking professionally, and much more.
There are three things to remember about building your brand presence though:
It takes consistency over time, and no matter what anybody tells you, there are no magical overnight methods.
Online brand building alone isn’t enough unless you are an influencer selling affiliate marketing. At some point, the rest of us must connect with a human being. A bunch of followers on a social platform is meaningless until you move them from anonymous followers to a face and a name interacting with you.
Presence isn’t about the numbers. It is about who is in the room and the impact you are making.
These steps are simple, but they still take focused attention, a strategy and an end goal in mind. If you need help doing that, I encourage you to book a discovery call with me to see where you can focus for the greatest impact on your personal brand. Also look for my Personal Branding Master Class coming out soon.