3 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand
When thinking about building a personal brand, the task can seem monumental – almost too large to tackle. But like with most things in life, I find it easier to break a big task down into simple, management chunks.
Given my proclivity for alliteration (particularly with the letter C obviously!), I like to think of personal brand building in terms of the 3 C’s.
1. Consider your existing brand
Reminder: you already have a brand – whether you know it or not. So, let’s take some time to get to know your personal brand as it stands today. Survey what’s out there.
Examine your current digital footprint. What’s in a name? Well, Google yourself! What shows up when you google your name? What images appear in your Google search?
Also, consider googling topics for which you want to be considered an authority. What content shows up for those topics? How can you move up in the rankings for these topics? What knowledge can you share that is better / different / more than what already exists?
Then, look internally. Who are you? Where do your strengths and passions intersect? What differentiates you? What are your defining characteristics?
Are you stumped? Ask others! Sometimes asking others can shed great light on the subject. They can see from the outside clearly what is less clear to us internally.
2. Craft your ideal brand
First and foremost, know your why! I cannot emphasize this enough.
If you haven’t yet read the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek, I highly recommend that you do so. Knowing your why gives you purpose. Knowing your why fulfills you. Knowing your why injects passion into all that you do. When you are passionate about what you do, you inspire others. You engender their trust and loyalty, as they feel like they are part of something bigger. When we align with our community on an authentic, purpose-driven level, our connection is so much stronger.
Furthermore, knowing your why will help you make intentional choices for both your business and your life. Your how and what can flow naturally after your why. Never get these things out of order.
Your why is your reason for existing!
For instance, if you ask me what we do around here, I might answer like this, “We create colorful content and curate colorful products.” But that is not nearly as compelling as our why. Why do we do what we do? Our whole purpose in existing is our why:
We empower women to live, think, and dress with more color.
And I feel passionately about this mission! I could go on a long diatribe about why this matters to me, but I’ll save that for another day. Suffice it to say that I feel passionately about helping other women live boldly.
Secondly, I’m a big believer in strengths based leadership – and I highly recommend this book. Focus on what you’re good at. Be honest with yourself. People respond to authenticity! So, never ever try to be something or someone you are not. People can sense that from a mile away. If you are not being true to yourself, everything you endeavor to do will fall flat. It won’t fulfill you, and it won’t resonate with your audience.
On a related side note: Consider hiring branding professionals to help. There are people who are skilled at helping you codify exactly who you are and what you do – and help you create a visual representation of that.
When we underwent our massive rebranding a year ago, I worked with Justin Keller at Circle Fifty. As Justin listened to me talk about the business, he uncovered a powerful truth. When we looked at the intersection of what I was passionate about and what performed well, we clarified that there was one common thread: color! It didn’t matter what particular topic we wrote about; it mattered more that the content was colorful. So, with the help of an expert, I was able to bring that common thread underlying all of my content to the forefront with the “More Color, Please!” tagline.
Another local company whose branding work I admire is CKO Digital. Their knack at translating a brand into visual assets is brilliant. So, if you’re in Houston (or anywhere really) and looking for branding help, I highly recommend you talk to Justin at Circle Fifty or Mishelle at CKO Digital.
3. Cultivate your community
Once you’ve nailed done your why, start cultivating your community. Consider how you can connect and care for your community. Consider asking yourself these questions:
Who is my ideal customer?
Where are my prospective clients?
What digital platform are they using?
How can I provide them value?
Give freely to your community! Meet their needs and solve their problems – before ever asking for a dime from them. Think of it this way… if you tuned in to watch an hour long TV show and 45 minutes of it was commercials, would you stick around for long? Similarly, you should only be selling to your audience a small fraction of the time. Give, give, give, give, and then ask.
On the topic of community, bigger is not always better. Know your niche. Know your people. And connect with those you have. Don’t always be looking to expand your reach. Sometimes, you can benefit more by deepening the connection you already have – rather than expanding your width.