5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand
April 29th 2023
Your personal brand is how your potential market perceives you. It’s important because your brand impacts their willingness to buy from you. Your personal brand can enhance, or detract from, your ability to sell your products and services.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to try to shape your personal brand to be an asset to your business, rather than a liability.
Identify your ideal customer
The first step is getting crystal clear about who your ideal customer is. How would you describe them demographically? Are they women? Men? College students? Retirees? Living in apartments? Living in the countryside? Earning under $50k? Earning more than $200k? Own a car? These are just some demographic characteristics you could use to describe your best customer. The more specific you can get, the easier it will be to find ways to connect with them.
That’s your next step—discovering where they spend their time or attention. That is, where do your buyers hang out? Are they boaters? Yoga fanatics? Soccer moms? Where do they turn for information? Do they read trade magazines? Subscribe to particular blogs? Or are they active on certain social media platforms? Knowing this makes it much easier to find them and engage with them.
In order for them to have an opinion about you and your brand, they first need to be aware of you.
Create an aesthetic
Your aesthetic is another word for visual imagery. Years ago, companies had corporate colors. Today we have colors, typefaces, and features, among other things.
Your aesthetic is your style. Is it fun and whimsical? Elegant? Contemporary? Natural? Juvenile? Futuristic? Technical? Think about what words you want associated with your personal brand and use those to drive the visual elements you use on everything from your website to your social media reels, photos, proposals, and posts.
Share useful information to establish your authority
In order for people to have an impression of you, they need to come across you, either in person or online. Where they connect with you and what they take away from that interaction, even if it’s one-sided, affects how they see you. For example, if you meet someone in person at a fancy gala event, they will form an impression of you based on the fact that you were in attendance, as well as what you wore, what you said, and how you behaved. Likewise, when people see your name online, they will begin to form a perception based on where they saw your work—was it a quote in a Wall Street Journal article, for example—or was it in an unflattering Yelp review.
All of these pieces together shape how others perceive you: that’s what makes up your personal brand.
What you can do to increase the number of positive impressions you make is to share information that your ideal customer would find useful or helpful—that would make them appreciate you or your expertise. For example, if you run a dog walking company or boarding facility, how about sharing tips for getting your dog ready for time away, recommending products that can help with separation, and ideas for evaluating different boarding options. Write articles you submit to publications and websites your target customers read. Create Facebook posts with links to posts. Pursue opportunities to be quoted in the press. Record videos about you and your business.
If you’re already doing these types of activities, it may be time to consider writing a book or creating an online course, to further extend your brand.
At the core of your personal brand is who you really are. It would be tough to create a persona that is nothing like you and present that to the public without eventually getting revealed. (We hear stories regularly about celebrities whose bad behavior has revealed their true personalities, and it’s not pretty.) A better approach is to share the true you from the start.
Your buyers want to feel like they know you, which is only possible if you share your personality with them. So don’t strive to be perfect. Don’t exaggerate stories you tell because you think that’s what others want to hear—they don’t. They want the truth. So be vulnerable and be honest.
Build a community
The more you share what you know in order to be helpful to your ideal customers, the more you’ll attract other like-minded buyers.
By bringing people together, either online through a Facebook group, for example, or in person through live events, you help to establish connections not just with you and your customers and fans, but between all of the community members. That’s when they help amplify your personal brand, by telling others about you, your offerings, and the helpful community you’ve built.
Keep in mind that you can’t really control your personal brand, since it’s based on how others perceive you. But following these five steps can certainly help create a positive impression that can help shape your brand.