It used to be that creating a personal brand meant you had a bunch of business cards made up—and if you were creative, you hired a graphic designer to create a logo for you. But, with the development of social media and an increasingly individualized society, the brand you build around yourself is perhaps the single most important way you can stand out in your spheres of influence. If you're beginning to think about your personal brand, it's crucial that you understand that personal branding is the means by which people remember you. It's more than a trademark or a stunning logo—it is how you present yourself online and offline to potential clients and customers. Your brand image is what you create to help build your business. Your personal brand centers around you as an individual.
Well-Known Examples of Personal Branding
For example, take the last presidential election. The names Trump and Clinton bring specific images to mind, but these images were only partly connected to the parties the candidates endorsed. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are examples of people who have mastered the art of connecting their names with their business and passions. Both built a solid personal brand. However, personal branding is not just for politicians. According to a Nielson Consumer Survey, only 33 percent of buyers trust messages from a brand, while 90 percent trust messages from an individual they know. That means that if you own a business, you have a much better chance of winning people's trust if you bond with them first as a human being.
Defining Your Personal Brand Means Knowing Your Audience
If you're looking to define your own personal brand, first you need to consider the kind of impression that you want to build and the market you want to target. Where do the two intersect? What does each look like and what does each want? What problems do they have? If you can build a solid personal reputation as someone who cares and truly wants the best for their clients, you'll succeed.
It's Not About Selling
Also, remember that personal branding is not about selling. It's about making yourself available to others—clients and peers. Make sure you have active accounts on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Balance your social media presence with business-related updates and personal updates. That way, others will see you as an established professional but also get a sneak peek into your personal life and what makes you tick. No one needs to know what you ate for breakfast, but a picture of your vintage Fender guitar posing next to a promotional poster will likely create some buzz. It also makes you human.
Work the Offline World
Personal branding isn't bound to the internet. When you leave your home and interact with people around town, make sure you maintain a positive and professional appearance in keeping with your brand. Carry business cards with you at all times, and keep an eye out for potential clients. People love to support local businesses and other professionals, and if you make a good impression, they'll be more eager to look into your services—and hire you or refer you to someone who will.
Consistency Is Key
One of the key components of successful personal branding is staying true (i.e., consistent) to your brand. Clients will start recognizing your brand once they've encountered it several times. And, if you change your image mid-stream, clients will get confused, and ultimately not know (or trust) you. If you're using multiple platforms (e.g., a website and glossy color brochures), you need to keep your overall image and appearance the same. One way to accomplish this is to make sure your color schemes, logos, personal mottos, and your overview business look and feel are the same Don't make your email signature formal using a fancy script font and your stationery an architectural, linear block print—it will look too different people own your brand and your business.