I realized that I’ve talked about personal branding on my blog and Youtube channel, but I always assumed that you knew what I was talking about. However, many of you have told me that you don’t really know what personal branding is and why it’s important.
So let’s say you’re an entrepreneur, an influencer, or work for yourself (i.e you are a real estate agent). One way to look at your personal brand is by figuring out what the underlying factor that makes someone ultimately trust you enough to work with you— or buy whatever you’re selling? In other words, what is going to make someone choose to work with you or buy your products over someone else?
I often have people tell me that they have a great personal brand because they have a website and they tweet a few times a week. That may have worked for Robert Scoble back in the day, but that doesn’t come close to what’s expected now to earn the authority, influence, and trust you need to succeed. The concept of a personal brand often gets intertwined with your social media. Social media is a part of your personal brand, for certain, but that’s just it— it’s only one part.
Table of Contents:
10. Why Your Personal Brand Matters
9. Your Personal Brand is Your Icebreaker
8. Establishing Your Authority and Influence
7. What is a Personal Branding Business?
6. Turning Your Influence Into a Multifarious Business
5. Is Traditional Branding Dead?
4. Why You Should Care
3. The Attributes of a Great Personal Brand
2. A Final Example: What Not to Do
1. Conclusion – What is Personal Branding and Why You Should Care
You can also check out my latest YouTube video:
Why Your Personal Brand Matters
Things have changed rapidly in the last couple of years. When it comes to marketing your brand, nothing seems to be off-limits.
Think about influencers and celebrities like Paris Hilton or the Kardashians who aren’t famous for what they’ve done or (for the most part) who they know. They are famous simply because so many people know them. These are the forerunners to the modern reputation economy which simply states, “It’s no longer who you know, it’s who knows you.”
This was only possible with the rise of the Internet and social media, which allows anyone and everyone to have a pulpit from which to reach the world. In its early days, it was enough to act outrageously like a court jester to get people’s attention (and thus celebrity status).
But with the growing popularity of social media, the expectations have changed.
Now it is expected that you demonstrate your expertise. And that’s not coming from the leaders of Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube— this is what your potential clients want. They expect to be able to go straight to your website, your social media, or your video platform and be able to define and trust you within mere seconds.
Your Personal Brand is Your Icebreaker
Think about your first day at a new job, your first day of school, or even a first date. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, right? That’s why a lot of companies and schools will implement those icebreaker games.
The downside to these types of interactions is that you only have one shot to make a good impression. If you do or say the wrong thing, you might not get that second date. Or worse, you might get stuck with some nickname like Cheez-It because you accidentally spilled an entire box all over the break room floor that one time. And then you’re branded with that name for life… or at least until you find another job.
With your personal brand, you have multiple opportunities to leave a good impression. Yes, it takes time but that’s what you want. You want to build your brand and your business on long-lasting relationships. And just like your real-life relationships, you cultivate them by getting to know one another.
Introduce an Icebreaker, Make Connections, and Make Sales
So think of your personal brand as the icebreaker. You know, the games like “Two Truths, One Lie” that let people get to know you. In fact, icebreaker content is a perfectly fine way to structure your social media content (in moderation). It’s a fun way to engage with your community so that you can get to know them and they can get to know you!
As your sphere of influencer grows, you’ll learn their pain points and you’ll be able to better navigate what you can be doing to solve their problems. And as you open up, that vulnerability will allow people to not only like you, but they’ll trust you.
Once your customers feel like a part of your friend circle, they’ll stick around for whatever it is you have to offer. And that is the key to a powerful personal brand.
Establishing Your Authority and Influence
Do you have to have 10K followers on Instagram in order to have what is deemed a “successful” brand and business?
All that matters is that you are maintaining a consistent presence both online and in person. You also need to be confident in your own message and your own expertise before you can start selling your business to others.
What is a personal brand without a social media presence? It’s a small business. You won’t be labeled as a source of authority or influence without garnering some kind of recognition.
Building Influence Through Social Media
A personal brand can accumulate accreditation in any number of ways. These days the natural indicator of a seemingly “successful” brand is a high social media following.
However, it is becoming easier to recognize when certain brands cheat the system through purchased followers and bots. And with this type of dishonesty becoming more prominent (albeit easily detectable) companies — and especially customers — aren’t putting much weight on follower count anymore.
Instead, what will give your personal brand a chance in the spotlight is your dedication to your community. Are you interacting on social media? Are people asking you questions, are they subscribing to your newsletter, and are they requesting your appearance at speaking events?
If you answered yes to any of these, your personal brand is well on its way to becoming a source of authority.
Personal Branding Content
What is personal branding content? It’s everything that you write. It’s every picture you take and it is everything that your logo appears on.
But how will a potential customer be able to recognize your content?
Your content will stand out to them because you should be written all over it.
Your content should be an extension of who you are. Do you like grunge style and deep colors? Find a personal branding photographer who can help you coordinate that aesthetic on your Instagram. Work with a website developer who will know the right hues of red and grey to include in your website.
That’s why it is so important to finalize your personal brand before you get to the sales part. You want people to be able to instantly spot your post on the Explore page, you want them to see your logo and know
Building Your Personal Branding Expertise Offline
As I mentioned, you don’t need a massive social media following in order to have a prestigious personal brand.
Maintaining your brand authority offline is just as important. This means you should making appearances at conferences, networking events, and just generally being involved in your local community.
Just like you should be leaving comments on social media, you should be making an effort to show up to places where your potential customers might be. If you’re a real estate agent, you would show up to your own open house, right? If you’re a brick and mortar pizza shop, you would partake in the regular taste of the town events, right?
No matter what industry you’re in, you need to find local happenings that you can partake in. They can be directly tied to your niche or they can simply be vague networking groups.
Once you become you’ve become recognizable to these people, you can move on to the next level— speaking gigs.
If you can land a gig as a speaker with your Chamber of Commerce or some other relevant community group, you can officially label yourself as a source of authority within your niche. People are choosing to physically show up to hear what you have to say. And if you can land large-scale speaking events for leading industry events, your personal brand and your business can start to grow.
What is a Personal Branding Business?
I have talked about the difference between personal branding and business branding in another blog. To summarize, you don’t want to make your company a business brand. You will have higher success with a personal brand. Plus, success will come at a much faster rate.
What you need to do after you’ have built up a brand that is liked, known, and trusted by your ideal client is to make it a business. You need to take your personal brand — the content, the speaking gigs, and your expertise — and cultivate it into a fine-tuned business.
If you’ve established your business goals before you have defined your personal brand, you are working backward. You can’t really align your business goals without knowing how you can get customers. And you won’t know how to get customers without analyzing your personal brand.
I know this blog is long and it seems like a lot. But, you can work on establishing a strong personal brand alongside your business endeavors. You just need to make sure you have an idea of what your personal brand is first.
First, Develop Your Personal Brand
You can do this by taking a few weeks to really analyze what makes you unique. You will need to be able to define exactly what niche you can serve and how you can do it. The next step in developing your personal brand (before you start selling as a business) is to get your logo, build a website, and start working on your social media content.
Now that is a lot. That’s why personal branding strategists like me try to do what we can to help out. Besides my blogs, Instagram tips, and free Masterclass, I also offer personal branding services. At Stratus Branding, my team and I work together to get all of the hard personal branding details out of the way so you can get your business up and running as soon as possible.
Then, Work on the Business
Once the branding business is out of the way you can start working on the business aspects.
What is a personal branding business? It’s simply a business that thrives because of the hard work that comes from the personal brand. The consistent content, the helps blog tips, and the engagement with the community are what will sell … well… whatever it is that you’re selling.
Turning Your Influence Into a Multifarious Business
Without a personal brand, can your business succeed? Sure! There are plenty of business owners out there who own a single brick and mortar and they do just fine.
But what if that boutique shop owner wanted to expand? How would they be able to do that?
A lot of businesses become franchises or they blossom into other opportunities because investors back them up. It’s easier to elevate your business when you develop these types of partnerships (and when you have working capital to build on).
However, here’s the secret that most personal branding strategists will tell you: nobody cares about your business sales numbers.
Investors actually invest in the person behind the brand, not the numbers. While sales, Profit and Loss Sheets, and even social media numbers will be hard selling points to convince them, you are going to be the one that they invest in.
By having an established business built on your personal branding statement, you get to cut the line. Investors will be more than interested to invest in your prominent influence. Now, it’s not just about expanding the brick and mortar boutique shop. Now investors are interested in your plans to develop your own clothing line, collaborate with large retailers, or even write your own book.
A personal brand gives you the opportunity to turn a small-time shop into a multifarious business. And with that kind of potential, investors are all in.
Is Traditional Branding Dead?
We all know that traditional advertising is slowly dying. Random ads and text links no longer drive sales the way they used to.
Television commercials used to give you the facts and sell a lifestyle or perceived value. Now television ads themselves have to find creative ways to be entertaining in order to stand out. And I’m just talking about the big “well-known” brands.
No unheard of brand or product is going to waste their money on television ads until they become established. The meteoric rise of influencer marketing, where companies hire influencers (even micro-influencers with a few thousand followers) to promote their product or brand is more effective than traditional advertising. And that’s because the influencers already possess the trust of their community.
You can already see that the way small businesses advertise online has evolved. They must engage on a number of advertising channels simultaneously to establish themselves in the eyes of their potential customers. For a business, analytics suggest that a potential customer must be exposed to your product or brand 7 times before they will consider buying from you.
In the past, people had to pay PR and marketing agencies to get the type of exposure that you can get on your own. I’m not going to lie to you and say that it’s super easy to post weekly blogs and videos on your website and post daily on 5 different social media sites. It’s not— that’s why people outsource this sort of work to experts.
Twenty years ago when we didn’t have social media, traditional marketing and paper mailers actually worked. I don’t know about you, but I get mailers for home renovation services all the time and they usually just end up in the trash.
These days, I would much rather do my own research on a company, potential partner, or a service provider to know they’re legit. No amount of stellar creative marketing in my mailbox is going to stop me from Googling that person or business before I decide to work with them.
And that brings us to your personal brand. Because people can so easily research you and your company to decide whether you’re worth working with, you need to have that online presence. Regardless of whether or not you’re paying attention to your personal brand, people are already making judgments about you based on it.
Why You Should Care
Ninety-two percent of people trust recommendations from any given individual over business brands.
So, the reality is that your company needs to go big or go home. These days, the only way to do that is with a personal brand.
This has huge implications for the business world and your ability to succeed in it. If your online profile is now the initial impression you make on people, you need to make sure that you, the persona behind your company, is present. A business brand simply won’t cut it anymore.
If people like what they see, the other aspects of your personal brand fill out the picture and help you establish that authority and influence. As people dive deeper into your personal brand by reading your blogs, watching your videos, or viewing your Instagram Stories, they will be able to see that you do actually know what you’re talking about.
And if you showcase your brand the right way, this leads to trust. Once people trust you, they will want to work with you, partner with, and buy from you.
Without the like, know, and trust that a personal brand provides, your business could take years to lift off the ground.
The Attributes of a Great Personal Brand
There are a lot of misconceptions about what personal branding is. Some people think that they can sign up for a few platforms and they are done. I’ve had people tell me they have a website and they tweet every now and then. That meant they had a personal brand, right?
So let’s just be clear. Now more than ever a personal brand is not simply:
- A logo
- A Website
- Your profile photo
- A twitter/Instagram/ Pinterest account
These are just components of your personal brand. Like parts of a rocket. Frequent quality content is the fuel that makes your brand move forward. Personal branding is not a “one and done” kind of event. It takes effort and commitment to build authority and influence. Nobody is just going to hand it to you— you have to earn it.
Facets of a Personal Brand
By our analysis, there are 28-30 total components of a modern personal brand depending on the industry that you are in. This includes the basic platforms you need to be leveraging, like Linkedin, your website, Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram.
However, it also includes industry-relevant platforms and groups. For instance, if you are an entrepreneur, you had better have a Crunchbase, Angel List, and Gust profile all set up and populated.
A personal brand needs to be cultivated and curated in order to succeed. You need to be creating and publishing content and staying up on your industry to be relevant.
Does that mean that you need to be going full steam ahead on all of these various components? No, you would need a personal branding strategist to help with that.
You can still start to make an impact by choosing a platform that resonates with you and concentrating on that. While it will not have the same impact as doing several at the same time, it will move the ball forward until you can either free up more time or hire some professionals to leverage you across more platforms.
A Final Example: What Not to Do
I want to give you an example. This is not intended to be cruel or vindictive. Instead, I want to give you a personal branding example to demonstrate the disconnect between one’s actual personal brand and the reality that can negatively impact your success.
A real estate agent recently reached out to me to talk about using my personal branding services. I’ll call him Realtor A. According to his Instagram profile, Realtor A is the “Realtor to C-Level Execs.”
“Great!” I said. “Let’s run a Social Branding Audit and see where you fit with your target audience.”
So we do a deep dive into Realtor A’s personal brand. I wanted to make sure that it related to their intended goals for selling to “C-Suite “ individuals. The audit was a bit of a shock.
Nothing about his online presence gave me any indication that he was a realtor, much less one to high net worth individuals.
That is a problem.
There was no messaging or coherent strategy to make C-suite individuals even think of calling on him to take care of their real estate needs. Realtor A’s perception and that of the market were polar opposites and he could not understand why he wasn’t more successful.
What Will People See When They Google Your Personal Brand?
Previously, I pointed out that people do research on you before they decide to work with you. Like it or not, people judge you on your online presence and your perceived authority in whatever niche you operate in.
People take advantage of the tools available to them, such as social media platforms and search engines. Therefore, people will often only do a little research before deciding to work with you. I’m pretty sure you do the same thing before you meet with someone You definitely do this before you look for a service you’re interested in.
If you wanted to get your house painted would you just go with the first entry on Angie’s List? Probably not. If you were going to hire a painter, you would do some research, too. Maybe you would check out Yelp and Angie’s list to find the one with the best ratings. So, if I wanted to buy a $5 million condo in San Diego, don’t you think I’d do some research on who’s the “best” and try to work with them?
If someone compares Realtor A to a competitor that showcases multi-million dollar real estate on their profile, they’re much more likely to believe that the competitor is the real deal rather than Realtor A. Ultimately, telling people you are something you don’t makes you look untrustworthy. No authority leads to no influence and ultimately, no trust. People only work with and buy from people they trust.
Conclusion – What is Personal Branding and Why You Should Care
In our final analysis, a successful personal brand is what is going to compel someone to work with or buy from you. Maybe they got the recommendation from a friend. Or maybe your personal brand compelled someone to buy from you because of your expertise.
Basically someone needs to see your social media, a blog article, or a video on your YouTube channel and then they will determine if they like what they see. And remember, they need to see you multiple times— that’s where consistent content comes in handy.
If you can be consistent in your personal branding message, people will start to believe that you can help them solve their current problems. Essentially they feel comfortable with you because most people buy products and services from people they know, like, and trust.
So there you have it. If you’re interested in learning how to take your personal brand to the next level, please take a look at my 5 Personal Branding Mistakes You’re Making and How to Fix Them.
Now if you want to brainstorm how to apply these ideas specifically to your personal brand, I am here to help you do that. Learn about my private coaching and schedule a free consultation!
Hi! I’m Claire Bahn, a personal branding expert, and CEO and Co-Founder of Online Profile Pros and Stratus Branding. I have been helping people strategize and create their best personal brand for over 10 years. As an influencer with over 80k followers on social media, I’ve learned so much about the importance of creating and maintaining your personal brand. I want to help you leverage your personal brand to develop the authority, influence, and trust you need to exceed your business goals.