First things first: what is personal branding?
Personal branding is the process of creating a marketable online persona based on one’s own, skills, values, and unique characteristics to gain wide recognition and acceptance as an authority among people in target audiences. Personal branding is a tool typically used to accelerate a career, market products associated with a person, or gain social support from large groups of people.
The process of personal brand building involves:
- Defining a polished, marketable personality
- Regular content production, that includes photos, videos, or written content
- Public relation efforts, including featured interviews
- Earning references from reputable sources
- Proactive actions to build and grow an audience
The benefits of having a strong personal brand are significant:
- It can make you famous
- Attracting new business opportunities
- Your network will grow super-fast
- Increased reputation
- Increased business performance
- Increased social rank
According to Wikipedia: personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.
You might also want to check out this other article about common personal branding mistakes.
Personal branding examples
1. Sam Owens
Sam Owens is the founder of Consulting.com – but his personal brand exceeds the brand value of his company. Despite being the most famous consultant online, his personal image goes against the typical consultant stereotype. His style is friendly, laid back, and casual. His outfit and apparel are simple. His tone of voice lacks any of that corporate stiffness you would expect from a business consultant.
Sam Owens teaches core business mindset and business management principles that help business owners to keep their focus on what matters the most, by cutting the noise.
What makes Sam Owners more credible compared to other business management and marketing thought leaders is that his background story is not a key part of his personal branding. Unlike Gary Vee, the communication of Sam Owens is not about praising himself, but teaching his audience to valuable skills.
His personal website reflects the simplicity of his brand: https://www.samovens.com/
2. Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk is a Belarusian-American entrepreneur, author, speaker, and Internet personality. He is a co-founder of the restaurant reservation software company Resy and Empathy Wines.
Gary Vee’s personal brand is the total opposite of Sam Ownes. His personal brand and marketing communication is busy, loud, and attention-seeking. On his website, he lists nine companies where he is Chairman & CEO, plus three companies that he co-founded.
As a speaker, his events typically start with his background story about how he was born in the former Soviet Union and how he spent his early life in the United States as an immigrant.
His topics are mostly digital marketing, Facebook advertising, and media acquisition tactics.
Gary Vee is often associated with the “hustle and grind” culture.
3. Neil Patel
Neil Patel is an American digital marketing thought leader, entrepreneur, and consultant. He is also co-founder of CrazyEgg and KissMetrics, two digital marketing analytics companies that were popular in the early 2010s.
Neil Patel is the Seth Godin of digital marketing. He is known for his knowledge and proven practices in the field of search engine optimization.
The personal brand of Neil Patel includes being straightforward, business-minded, particular, and systematic. While his blog is fun to read, the practical information value he shares is tremendous – which made him an authority in digital marketing and SEO.
His appearance is simple yet sleek. Neil Patel communicates with a clear, concise yet engaging tone of voice.
His website is neilpatel.com.
Basic personal branding strategy
Ask yourself: who do you want to be?
Before planning anything else, ask yourself who do you want to be seen as, and what would you want to be known for? These questions are important as the answers will define your personal branding statement that you will need to maintain for years.
Be honest with yourself and conceptualize what you will represent, what sides you will take, how you will remain yourself while building your polished image?
Personal branding is about packaging and promoting yourself and your marketable qualities. Your audience will be interested in what value, motivation, or inspiration you can bring to them. They will not be interested in your flaws, struggles, and love life issues.
Research and create your personal branding statement
Define your audience and your competitors who are already active in your niche. Before doing anything else, find out how successful they are. Are they making any money from their personal brand? If yes, how do they monetize their brand? Do people actually like them?
To explore such questions, you can do a personal brand audit on your competitors. The audit will answer what people like and dislike about them, what are their positively perceived characteristics and what makes them look credible.
Before defining your personal brand statement, you need to have reliable market intelligence that will enable you to craft your statement based on what your audience will likely welcome the most positively.
Your personal brand statement needs to:
- Define your public appearance and style
- Specify the topics you will talk about
- Describe the audience you will communicate to
Develop a personal marketing communication strategy
Your personal brand growth will depend on how efficiently you will reach and engage your target audience. The marketing communication of your personal brand should be designed to support these two items.
How will you reach your audience? What platforms are you going to be present on? What content will you produce for your audience? Which mediums are the best to reach a broader audience?
Regarding engagement, you will need to think about:
What will make your audience notice you? What ways you should offer to people to engage with you? How to build a followership and community?
Plan how to engage with your target audience and define what success will look like for you in two months, nine months, two years.
Manage your personal brand growth
Keep an eye on what content topics get the best positive engagement, and listen to your audience. Answer questions, get into conversations and make sure to deliver value to everyone who tries to engage with you. Promote positive participation and have a plan of action for negative remarks.
Monitor your social media and website reach statistics to find out what made the biggest impact on your brand growth.
Do a personal brand audit every once in a while to find out what people actually think about you. Remember that engagement, click and view metrics will only tell you information that could be recorded.
If your campaign had 1,000,000 views but only 10,000 engagements – that means that 99% of your audience did not engage with your brand. Basic web and social media statistics will not tell you why 99% did not like your brand – but you can find it out with a personal brand audit.
Measure your success regularly:
Set some KPIs for personal brand success so that you know you are heading in the right direction. Celebrate even small wins to remain motivated to achieve more.
According to Wikipedia, the process of personal branding involves finding your uniqueness, building a reputation on the things you want to be known for, and then allowing yourself to be known for them. Ultimately, the goal is to create something that conveys a message and that can be monetized.