Why You Need a Personal Brand to Succeed

Try this exercise to evaluate yourself, your product and your customers so you know what unique value you bring to the market.

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By Claire McKinney

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You go to the supermarket and look at the shelves in the cereal aisle. There's Tony the Tiger on the royal blue box of Frosted Flakes. Further down the aisle is the store brand. Depending on how you shop, you will decide to buy "on brand" or not. We are all familiar with the successful branding of products and merchandise. However, in a digitally influenced world, people need personal brands to succeed.

At this point in the conversation some people want to know how they could ever be "brand names" — after all, there is only one Kim Kardashian, Oprah or Dr. Phil. You may want to have one million followers on Instagram, but do you need that many to drive your business and career forward? Brands do not have to be big to work. The key to building your personal brand is to follow a series of steps.

Related: Six Reasons Branding Is More Important Than Ever Before

Questions to ask when developing your brand

Pull out whatever tools you use to write stuff down, and answer these questions as completely as you want. Whether you have one page or four, it is how you boil it down that is going to matter.

  1. Demographics: Make a list of all of your accomplishments and core demographics. For example, where have you lived? Attended school? What kinds of jobs have you had? Do you have a family? How do you spend your free time?

  2. Personal style: Are you a t-shirt and jeans person or does your industry require suits? Is there an item of clothing like a hat or a jacket that you feel represents you and what you do?

  3. Color and fonts: What colors represent your brand? If you have a logo, you should use that as a base. There are several programs available where you upload your logo and receive a color palette based on it. You can also pick your main fonts for your headlines, subheadings, and body text. If you look at the Entrepreneur.com website you will likely notice a uniformity in the text styles used. I like to use Canva.

  4. Your product: What product or service are you offering? What makes your offering unique from your competitors? What is your value proposition, or, what do you bring to the table that makes you and your product/service the one to buy? Can you write it down in one sentence?

  5. Your target customers: Who are you selling to? What is their education level, household income and gender? What need is your product or service filling for your customers? How will purchasing from your business make them feel? Do you need to narrow your scope to more specific targets?

Related: Personal Branding: The Key to Success in the Digital Age

Building your personal brand for success

Now that you have all of this information laid out, it is time to start figuring out your personal brand. Questions 1 - 3 are about your image and any graphic representations of your business. To implement your answers you will need to take a professional photo in the right clothes and with the right props for you and your business. Colors and fonts need to be incorporated into your website, social media banners, packaging and any collateral materials you use in your marketing.

Questions 4 and 5 are likely the most difficult and you may not be able to organize the answers in one sitting. This is where the core of your business is going to live — in the customer audience that you build and the value of what you are selling to that customer. At the end of the process, you should have one or two sentences that express who your target market is, who you are and what makes your business unique to this particular market. You may even have a couple of target markets, depending on how you break things down. For each one, you need a separate statement.

Start with figuring out how to serve your target audience based on the unique qualities and value you bring to your products and services. This is your personal brand. Now go out and use it to build a successful strategy and start selling.

Related: Why Branding and Reputation Are Essential for Fearless Leaders

Claire McKinney

CEO of Claire McKinneyPR, LLC

Claire McKinney has been working in PR for 25 years. She has appeared on Today and CSPAN as an expert on publishing, and she travels to speak to audiences about digital and traditional PR. She is an entrepreneur and author, and she will receive an M.S. in digital marketing in May 2022.

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