What is Personal Branding and Why You Should Care

I realized that I’ve talked about personal branding on my blog/ channel, but I always assumed that you knew what I was talking about.  I’ve learned that many people don’t know what personal branding is and why it’s important.  So let’s say you’re an entrepreneur, influencer or work for yourself like real estate agent, one way to look at your personal brand is what is 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 over someone else or buy your products over someone else’s.

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 get confused with and intertwined with your social media. Social media is a part of your personal brand for certain but its only a part

20 years ago you 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.  I would much rather do my research on a company or a potential partner /service provider to know they’re legit before I decide to work with them.  Hence your personal brand, people can research you and your company and decide whether you’re worth working with.  Regardless of whether or not you’re paying attention to your personal brand, people are already making judgments about you based on it.
You can also check out my latest YouTube video:

Why Your Personal Brand Matters / What’s Changed?

Things have changed rapidly in the last couple of years. 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 forerunner 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. Where once it was simply enough to act outrageously like a court jester and get people’s attention and thus celebrity status. Now the expectation is that you demonstrate your expertise or at least coherent thoughts on a subject you’re interested in so that potential clients and partners can get a sense of who they are working with.

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 the other aspects of your personal brand fill out the picture and help you establish authority and influence which leads to trust. Once people trust you they will want to work with you, partner with and buy from you.

We all know that traditional advertising is slowly dying. Random ads and text links no longer drive sales they way they used to. Television commercials used to give you the facts and sell a lifestyle or perceived value. Now television ads are themselves supposed to be entertaining and that’s only for 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 then traditional advertising because the influencers already posses the trust of their community.

You can look at the way small businesses that advertise online have evolved to deal with the new reality. 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 agencies 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.[thrive_leads id=’5065′]

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 so they must have a personal brand.

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 builds authority and influence. Nobody is just going to hand it to you, you have to earn it.

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 but also 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.

In the final analysis, a successful personal brand is What’s going to compel someone to work with you or buy from you?  It can be a recommendation from a friend or your personal brand could compel someone to buy from you because of your expertise. Basically someone sees your social media, a blog article or a video on your YouTube channel and they like what they see and they believe that you can help them solve the problem they’re currently having.  Essentially they feel comfortable with you, because most people buy products and services from people they know, like and trust.

A Final Example: What Not to Do

I want to give you an example.  This is not intended to be cruel or vindictive but to demonstrate the disconnect between one’s actual personal brand and 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 as 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.

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 means that people with take advantage of it to do a little reconnaissance before they deal with you …I’m pretty sure you do the same thing before you meet with someone or look for a service your interested in. If you wanted to get your house painted would you just go with the first entry on Angies List?  If you were going to hire a painter you would do some research, maybe checkout Yelp and Angies list and try to find the one with the best ratings and reviews i.e. the highest authority. So If I wanted to buy a $5 million condo in San Diego you don’t think I 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 aren’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.

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.

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About Claire

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. Read More

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