You think they know, but they have no idea! How to build your personal brand in 12 steps
“Hi there, I’m Joe, one of the best property experts in the UK.”
OK time out. Whilst this maybe how you see yourself, is this how others see you? Have you checked? Your personal brand is not about what you believe you are (or what you believe you should be); it’s about how others see you. Understanding this crucial difference is an important first step.
In an ever changing, fast paced world, how do you stay relevant and authentic? You may know what you do but do others?
Importance of branding
Self-awareness means being openly honest about what your skills and development points are. Yes, it’s hard! But those who can master this are not shy of being open about what/who they are and what/who they are not. This is a trait I would say we tend to see in new generation leaders. Knowing how to communicate who you are and what you’re passionate about can only be a good thing. Particularly if you’re trying to have impact, whether through personal initiatives, hobbies or business, a clear brand to your audience can help to signal what you stand for and why they should care.
Where to start – the how to
It’s not as scary or inconceivable as you may think to build your personal or business brand. Start by defining your purpose and know why it’s your purpose. Then ensure that you can offer something to your audience that is irresistible to them (likely because they can relate to your purpose in some way). Lastly, collaborate collaborate, collaborate. Lets dive in.
I. Define your purpose
- Dig deeper. We all have something about us that makes us unique, or gets us passionate or makes us identifiable. Get ready to dig deeper to understand who you are, who you are not and importantly why you are the way you are. Dig deep and then go deeper. Try to define your purpose by considering the impact you want to have on others, what you want to be ‘famous for’ or even the legacy you want to leave. Ask yourself why? Combine that with the skills you have or the skills you want to enhance and get focused on building your brand around this purpose and your values.
- Find a balance. You may think that you do not or cannot have your own personal brand, particularly if you work within a corporate firm. Wrong! (Just consider Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In brand despite her Facebook COO role). Even if you are in a corporation, ensure that there is some alignment to your corporate values and think about yourself as your own entity and the main conduit to any client or consumer you have. People get connected with people first in business, so be clear on who you are and what you can bring to the table.
- Search ability. Is it searchable along with a good niche? Of course it’s important to define a brand that aligns to your passions and purpose, though ensure people want to hear about it. A good start is understanding if people are searching for the content or service or product you are trying to deliver.
- Know your audience. My favourite. Do not assume I’m interested. Do not assume I know anything about you. Talk about what I care about not what you know. In order to do this effectively, personify you’re audience. Know them intimately, what they like, dislike, need and also what their typical day looks like. For example, I must say that the ‘Baby Brezza’ brand know what I need for baby feeding products –steamed and crushed baby food at the touch of a SINGLE button. They have other related products also. So I think of them when I think of efficiency with preparing any baby food! They clearly know what I’m looking for and that I have zero interest in spending unnecessary minutes I don’t have – thank you Baby Brezza. The point here is the more you know your audience and work for them, the more they’ll develop brand loyalty to you.
- Don’t forget Re-branding! Branding is not a one-off exercise! If you are constantly obsessing over your consumers, your industries, markets, sectors etc then you’ll move with the times as need be. We saw lots of firms re-brand socially and from a business perspective during Covid-19. Though re-branding must be part of the ongoing annual strategic review.
- Be authentic: Live your brand, don’t diss it! Stay true to what it is and represent it always… in your content, in your words, actions and behaviours. It has to be part of your DNA, so hence aligning it to your values will always make this easier. Be comfortable saying no if something is not aligned to your brand.
II. Offer a service
- Build content. Research your desired brand territory. Keep me interested. Tease me. Build high quality content with good photography. Be consistent on your messages and ensure your content aligns to the brand you’re trying to build. Switch it up a bit with podcasts and videos too. Do not suffer posting fear! Build the content (don’t just be a ‘liking’ bystander) then publish it.
- TELL A STORY – Each content you put out should be additive to who you are and what you stand for. Introduce yourself with the values you hold and not just by name or title. Do you have a personal bio? Write one. Do not let others creative the narrative for you. Check more details on our storytelling blog here.
- Advocate loudly. Write it. Speak it. Rehearse. Live it. Know your brand inside out. Be confident. Speak up: don’t just ‘like it’ as I said… comment meaningfully, share, build your own opinion, post, re-share with your own words. Look for opportunities that compliment your brand.
- Be consistent. Let me know why I should listen to you on and keep listening to you. Even if you focus on more than one thing, find the common thread that pulls everything together and ensure that it aligns to your brand.
III. Collaborate effectively
- Use your ecosystem. Build connections with peer experts and energise your communities and consumers. Make it easy for others to talk about you and let others talk for you. Remember that the most intelligent person in the room rarely has to say it – others say it for them. A good way to think about this is defining what you want others to be saying about you now or in a years’ time. Write your PR statement for next year, today. Then work with others (in your firm and outside of it) to promote you and make these things happen. Marketing is essential.
- Put in the effort . This doesn’t have to be overly time consuming but think through your brand goals, purpose and strategy. Also your approach to building content and offering a service/product. This will take time so be willing to invest. A brand is something that can be created from scratch but it can also be weakened or destroyed easily if the effort is not put in.
Written by Oluchi Ikechi-D’Amico