Branding isn’t just for celebrity influencers and Fortune 500 companies. Whether you’re looking for a better job, industry recognition, or new clients, creating a powerful personal brand is essential. And if you don’t think you have a personal brand, just Google yourself. Voila! The question is, do you want it to take on a life of its own, or do you want to control the narrative? By managing your message and how the world sees you, you’ll be better positioned to achieve your career goals. These seven steps will get you on your way to creating a powerful personal brand.
1.) 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, “I help manufacturing organizations improve their processes to reduce waste and grow profits.” Leadership begins with communicating your “why.” As author Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
2.) Decide what you want to be known for
If you became known as the world’s go-to expert on a specific topic, what would that be? The only way to create a compelling personal brand is by becoming the recognized authority in a particular area. Research the competition in that market and determine how you will differentiate yourself. What makes you unique? By leveraging your special gifts, you’ll be more likely to stand out from the crowd. Your personal brand should be an accurate reflection of your passions, skills, values and beliefs.
3.) Define your audience
One of the worst mistakes you can make as you build a personal brand is attempting to appeal to everyone. That’s why it’s so crucial to define your niche. Whom do you want to serve? According to brand strategist Re Perez, “A great brand starts with understanding who you are, what you stand for, understanding your marketplace, and understanding your positioning. What is the perception that you need to create in order to appeal to the target audience that you’re trying to appeal to?” A valuable exercise is to create your target profile (or avatar). The more you understand your audience, the better prepared you will be to develop products and services that they want and need. Consider things like their demographics, psychographics, pain points and challenges. What are they struggling with, and how can you help?
4.) 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.
5.) Be authentic
Your personal brand shouldn’t be a persona. It’s not an invention. It should be authentically you. Figure out what makes you different. Then learn to embrace that uniqueness and use it to get people to pay attention and seek out your content over everyone else’s. People want to interact with people, and that means being real. Determine what you want your brand personality to be. Is it more casual or professional? Quirky or serious? The more authentic you make your personal brand, the more likely visitors to your site will resonate with your message. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself because everyone else is taken.”
6.) Create your own website
If you don’t already own your personal domain name (i.e., carolinecastrillon.com), go to GoDaddy right now and see if it’s available. If not, look for a variation on the name and buy it. Having your own domain is essential these days, no matter who you are or what you do. And with all the simple website builders out there like Wix and Squarespace, there is no excuse not to develop your own website. And it can also be an enjoyable project! This is your chance to create something that is 100% reflective of who you are and what you stand for.
7.) Build your social media presence
These days, it isn’t easy to have a compelling personal brand without an online presence. Once you secure your domain name, check to see if it is available on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other channels. You can use tools like knowem and NameChk to verify if your desired username is available on hundreds of social media sites. Then claim your social media profiles and share content regularly. Ideally, you will want to focus on one or two social networks in the beginning. It is better to select one or two carefully selected social networks and try post consistently on them, rather than posting sporadically to half a dozen. Resist the urge to use social media as a bully pulpit and instead encourage a two-way conversation. That way, you’ll be more likely to build a trusting, ongoing relationship with your audience.
Developing a compelling personal brand can help you get featured in media, expand your network, attract clients and create a lasting platform—among other things. We all have a personal brand, whether we think so or not. Why not be intentional and make the most of it?
Thinking about a career change but not sure what steps to take? Download Caroline Castrillon’s free guide: 7 Steps to Career Clarity