A few weeks ago, I was doing my end-of-the-month routine where I brainstorm some ideas for blog posts when the idea of making a guide to developing a personal brand for beginners came to mind.
Quite honestly, this probably should have been one of the first blogs I wrote about when I transitioned my blog. Sorry about that! But we’re here now, and I think this is really going to clear things up for you.
I think the reason I didn’t directly dive into beginner steps is that the term “personal brand” usually only comes up once a CEO arbitrarily decides he wants his name in the press or when someone decides to rebrand.
What most people don’t realize is that your personal brand should actually be the first thing you develop before you start your business.
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That’s right— your personal brand should be considered before you pick out your logo, before you build your website, and even before you lay out your business plan. The reason? Your personal brand is already at play— and that could cause trouble right from the jump.
You Already Have a Personal Brand
I’m not going to do a complete deep-dive explanation on what a personal brand is. I already have a full blog on that. To summarize, your personal brand is how others perceive you.
Your friends and family probably already have a set of words to describe you. Maybe you’re the “Quiet One” the “Responsible One” or the “Creative One”. If that’s who you want to be in this business world— great. Then all you have to do is build that persona into your social media and website.
But, if you’re looking to bring out the best version of yourself, that’s when you really need to sit down and think about how you’re going to develop a personal brand. One that your potential clients will look at with trust and admiration. And one that investors and journalists will look at and know you’re the expert.
5 Steps for Developing a Personal Brand
Once you know how you want others to perceive you, setting up your marketing strategy is going to get done a hundred times faster.
Before you put out a single blog, record a video, or launch an email campaign, you have to take the appropriate first steps to develop your personal brand, There are five things that you can do to start your brand that will make finding clients, planning your content, and telling your story a lot easier.
These are my 5 simple rules that I recommend to all beginners looking for the smoothest route towards their branding efforts.
Step 1: Know your ideal client
Despite everything that a personal brand suggests, your brand should be all about your clients. Specifically— your ideal client.
It seems kind of contradictory, doesn’t it? But as any marketing guru can tell you, your business should put your customers first. And the same should be said for your personal brand.
Don’t try to figure out what your brand can do for you. Focus on what your brand can do for other people. It’s fine to plan ahead and try to cultivate a plan that grows your personal brand— so long as you’re doing it for the right reasons.
If your goal is just to get rich and climb the social ladder, you’ll only see temporary success. Those who develop a personal brand towards the benefit of others are the ones who will have an audience that likes, knows, and trusts them.
What are you trying to help them achieve? Success? Comfort? Are you trying to help them save money or time?
Once you know why your brand exists, you need to curate a “Client Avatar” or your ideal client.
You should be able to tell me everything about your ideal client. How old they are, what their job is, if they’re married, their annual salary, and even things like what their hopes and fears are.
All of this information will help you develop a mental picture of who your client might be. Once you have that in mind, you’ll be able to choose imagery, fonts, and colors based on what your ideal client is drawn to.
More importantly, you’ll be able to come up with your brand voice, your personal branding statement, and your brand goals. These will tie in with your content strategy to ultimately cultivate the perfect audience.
Step 2: Know your story
Now, just because your brand’s mission should be to satisfy the needs of others doesn’t mean that you can’t throw in your own history. After all, your stories are what makes your brand—well— personal.
These stories are going to serve as the motivator to get your ideal client to like you. If you can share your personal failures, they’ll be able to relate to you— which means they’ll begin to trust you. And once enough people share your story or follow you based on the experiences you share, more people will begin to know you.
Like, know, trust: the three main ingredients to skyrocket your personal brand.
So which stories should you be telling? It’s best practice to cut out the fluff. Everyone doesn’t need to know your deepest, darkest secrets. Likewise, nobody will really care about that trip you took to Dubai if it doesn’t tie into your brand’s messaging.
But what is that message? And what truly is your story?
The beginning, the middle, and the end
My suggestion is to pin-point three moments in your life that led you to where you are today. Remember that every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
For example, my story begins with me moving to LA to work as an actress. But that didn’t work out according to plan.
So after a few years, I became a lifestyle influencer. At the same time, I became the CEO of a branding business that took off. And after ten years into that business, I started to feel detached from my influencer content. Despite its success, I just didn’t have the drive to do it anymore.
That’s when I decided to take my two passions and my decades of experience and mold them into one model: I became a personal branding strategist. Now I teach all entrepreneurs — from influencers to CEOs — how to curate a personal brand that resonates with others.
Do you see how each of these three stories begin with an inspiring personal experience, but they each end with a cliffhanger?
You want your audience to want to know what happens next in your story. That’s how you get them to stop and listen.
Show your audience that you’ve also experienced failure, but that you still managed to work your way to success. When you can show that, people will trust you enough to buy from you and they’ll like you enough to see what you do next.
So before you begin your online branded content, know your stories. And tell them often.
Step 3: Create a mood board
This is where the fun part comes in. At least for those who enjoy creating a nice aesthetic.
A mood board is when you pick your brand’s color scheme, fonts, and image style. And believe it or not, the colors and fonts you choose play a significant roll in the way your brand is perceived. A study even revealed that,
“46% of consumers base their decisions on the credibility of a website from its visual appeal & aesthetics.”
Your mood board will be used to create your website design, your social media, posts, your PDF downloads, and much more. Here are just a few things you should consider when developing the look fo your personal brand.
Generally, you want to have a pretty tame font to use for the bulk of your brand. A font such as Times New Roman can be used for the body of your website, your PDFs, and your overall written content.
You can use bold or script fonts for things such as the title of your PDF, your logo, and moderately within your social media posts.
Certain colors are naturally perceived a certain way, whether you realize it or not. Even NASA takes it branding colors seriously.
For example, navy, black, and grey are all colors that exude professionalism, maturity, power, and trustworthiness. Pink “stands for femininity, youth and innocence” but can also be used for a modern, luxurious design.
So that other business of mine that I mentioned earlier? It’s called Online Profile Pros and it’s our job to make sure people have the most attractive photos for their profiles. Whether it’s for a dating app like Tinder or for a professional networking site like LinkedIn, we built our business knowing that first impressions matter.
Especially when it comes to your photos.
This is true now more than ever in the digital market. We’ve found that people are most drawn to lifestyle images, which is why the majority of our photoshoots are done outdoors.
This is something you’ll have to consider before you begin marketing your brand.
A mood board is all about laying out your favorite colors, logos, photo style, and fonts. This will set the tone for your brand and make it easier to design your logo or website.
Step 4: Research SEO keywords
This is a lot to unpack, but it’s imperative to the success of your brand’s website and even your social media.
SEO= Search Engine Optimization. For your website, it’s the keyword or keyword phrases that people type into Google. The hope is that your website will show up on the first page of Google anytime someone searches those key terms.
If someone is looking for a personal branding strategist, my hope is that they will find my website on the front page. I’m making sure this is possible by writing weekly blogs like this. The blogs are not only informative (because, again, your brand’s goal should be to help other people) but they also implement SEO keywords.
I research these every month to figure out what people are looking for in terms of personal branding advice. And whether you’re a beginner to branding or you’re looking to rebrand, you need to be doing this, too.
SEO also plays a loose role on social media. You’ve heard of hashtags, right? Those are kind of like your keywords for Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you want to know more about this, be sure to read my blog on SEO on social media.
Step 5: Plan out your content strategy
In order to develop a personal brand that people will relate to and recognize, you have to be reliable. That means showing up and having a content strategy every month. And in my opinion, the previous four steps should be taken before you even start thinking about your content.
To be fair, the first few can be done with the help of a personal branding strategist like me. So if you’re excited about the content-making part, you can just skip the first few steps and come right to this one. If you’re willing to accept some help, that is.
Once all of these ideas for your personal brand are in place, mapping out your content should be a breeze. You’ll have fonts and colors picked out for your social media posts and you’ll know which SEO keywords will help boost your ranking on Google.
You’ll also know which 3 key stories you can keep telling your audience to build that like, know, and trust. The three that you should incorporate into your content again and again.
And of course, you’ll know your customer’s story.
All that’s left after that is to know when and where you want to post on social media. I have an entire blog for your social media content strategy that will help you understand and plan the perfect route.
Since you’ve read this, I can now officially say that you’re no longer a beginner when it comes to personal branding. I recommend checking out my next blog, The First 5 Things You Should Do When Building Your Brand if you want to dive deeper into each of these steps.