Building a personal brand is not a quick process. It takes time, effort and consistency and even once it has been established it will inevitably evolve over time. How you manage that evolution and grow with your customer base makes all the difference in the final outcome and success of your brand as a whole.
It is hard to underestimate the value of branding. Lots of case studies across all industries show that a strong brand is your most valuable business asset:
- In the beauty industry, indie brands were able to stand out against expensive rivals (source: Cosmetics Marketing & Industry Trends: 2020 Beauty Ecommerce Report)
- In the search industry, a late entrant in the search engine industry was able to be included in top 10 search engines of the world (source: Ivey Publishing Case Study – DUCKDUCKGO: REINVENTING THE INTERNET SEARCH)
- Across all niches, new brands are winning by being more flexible and innovating more eagerly (source: How Insurgent Brands Are Rewriting the Growth Playbook)
Branding is the most affordable marketing strategy: All you need is you. And when you need to start a new business, you have you to market it for free.
I would say that personal brands, rather than business ones, are a little simpler to work out. For one thing, you are building it under the awning of a single person.
That means their personality, expertise and a one on one interaction format that works great building rapport. Personalbility and the connection we make as human beings rather than through the logo of an incorporated entity can be a powerful driver.
Does that mean that the CEO of a business should be sticking with brands for that company and not a personal brand? No. Anyone from the founder or a startup to a Tik Tok maven should have their own personal brand to fall back on.
These tips will help you get there.
Know Who You Are Speaking To
You have your voice, now you need your audience. Who are you speaking to? What will they want to hear about? Most importantly, what do they have to say to you, as the holder of this new personal brand?
Too many people will try and appeal to many different groups of people. This waters down your identity and will end up catching you less attention, not more. Think of a pop singer. They aren’t putting out metal tracks to get in with the thrash crowd. They recognize that not everyone will like them and that is OK, it is important to reach those who are within their demographic.
This is one of the most important steps to defining and polishing your brand image and it is something that could eventually change. You might find that your initial target audience were not who you thought they were. It is also a good idea to start reaching out to niche influencers to associate your brand with them. There are quite a few agencies helping you manage relationships with influencers.
Start with the Obvious
How do you get the real down and dirty on who that audience is? Well, part of it will just be simple demographics that you can figure out without too much trouble. For example, a YouTube Makeup Tutorial channel run by a 19 year old can assume her main demographic will be teenage girls around her age and younger, within a similar location sphere due to language barriers.
What else can we extrapolate? They like beauty, possibly fashion or even niches like cosplay. They are looking to improve their own techniques or experiment with makeup. They are going to be open to brand recommendations. They are tech savvy. They don’t have access to a lot of money.
So, a good branding video would be as follows: Little Mermaid Inspired Makeup Tutorial, Drug Store Only.
This targets a demographic young enough to like Disney or old enough to have a nostalgia value. It hits on possible cosplay crossover. It is a beauty tutorial and it uses low cost drug store makeup rather than high end brands. All of those things can be incorporated in a public image and what you, as a brand, are all about.
Look at Your Current Audience
If you invest in social media ads, chances are you have accumulated loads of data on what your audience likes and relates to. Facebook advertising provides the most in-depth insight into your target audience, so if you are not investing in it, start now.
Lots of web analytics solutions offer all kinds of demographic insights, including age, gender, etc. of your current site audience.
Finteza, a web analytics platform, offers a detailed report on your site users, including the devices they are using (which can also be used to form a better understanding on what kind of demographic group they belong to).
You can slice your reports to see how exactly each demographic group is interacting with your site, which pages appeal to them best and how effectively they follow your conversion funnels:
Incorporate this data into your current content marketing plan: “Will this appeal to my audience?” For B2B marketing, try using customer relationship management tools like Salesforce and Salesforce alternatives to better engage and analyze your target audience.
Learn to Better Target Your Audience
Finally, an actual content research can give you lots of insights into your target audience. Which keywords they choose to type into the search box? Which questions they are seeking answers for?
Keyword and topic research offers a huge deal of data into your target audience problems and behavior.
One of the best tools to better understand your topic and what is expected from an article covering it is Text Optimizer which analyzes any search query and creates a list of related topics and questions for each one:
It is also a good idea to regularly survey your site visitors to get first-hand data on what interests and intrigues them.
Use Consistent Branding
Here is where the business and the personal side are going to converge a bit. Because you want a logo, branded colors, etc. and you want them to be separated from the ones you use if you have a more traditional branded business (but similar, in that case).
Your aim is simple: stand out as an individual, represent what you and your brand are about. If you are the leader of a business, you also want to remain an individual while representing what that company is about. It is a fine line to walk, I know.
This is where persistence really kicks in, because over time any branded imagery, content, colors, ect are going to come to stand for you just through exposure alone. So you want to kick that process into high gear by putting that imagery everywhere.
Your logo should be across all websites, social media, guest posts, videos, whatever you have. Colors should be the same across the board. You want to have a “look” you stay faithful to. Plus, you want a strong call to action that people could recite along with you when presented. You can have your logo created for free these days, or at least use those tools to create a concept to be developed further.
Going back to the YouTube example, you can really see how popular content creators have nailed this idea. Personal branding is tantamount on that platform and the way they do their intros and outros bookend that content to make the branding even stronger. There are always lots of great themes for personal branding purposes.
Again, this branding might change over time as you fine tune what does and doesn’t work. But make sure it is a part of the process so when changes have to be made you already have a solid audience established that can transition along with you rather than starting over.
Be Authentic, Above All Things
It may be tempting to build your personal brand based off of a specific image that shows who you want to be rather than who you are. But even the best actors have to get out of character sometimes.
Your much better bet is to air on the side of authentic from the very beginning. Does that mean you have to show every single bit about yourself? Of course not, this is a professional side of you and should fit in with the purpose of the image you want to project. But humans all have flaws and showing yours sometimes is not a negative trait, it is a positive one. Our flaws make us who we are, as much as our strengths.
You can exaggerate a bit, maybe play up your good points. Just make sure that you are still being a fair representation of who you really are. Trust me, if there are problems in the future, they will be much more forgiving if you were yourself from the start.
Consistency is the name of the game.
Do you have any tips for creating a strong personal brand? Let us know in the comments.