You Already Have a Personal Brand. For Your Business to Succeed, You Must Take Charge of It. A personal brand isn't a fake persona, and it's most definitely not exclusive to celebrities or chiefs of multinational companies. As an entrepreneur, it's vital to start curating your existing one — here's how.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Too many business owners and entrepreneurs make the mistake of neglecting their personal brand. The two excuses I've heard the most? "I don't need one" and "I can't have one."
Nowadays, however, you most definitely do need a strong and memorable personal brand if you want to make an impact. As for "I can't have one," trust me: you already do.
Your personal brand is a culmination of everything that defines you and sets you apart from everyone else, both online and when someone interacts with you in person. This includes your values, social media presence, the topics you talk about the most, the kind of clothes you wear and how your photos make others perceive you.
How you already have a personal brand
You might think this hasn't got anything to do with you because you're not a celebrity, a worldwide-known CEO or an influencer with a million followers, but that's not the case.
Personal brands aren't just for famous people: Everyone has one! Your audience and the people who interact with you have already been forming an opinion about you and associating you with specific topics or values.
So, if you think it'd be too overwhelming to try and curate your personal brand, ask yourself: What's the cost of ignoring it?
I'll tell you: Other people will have to base their opinions on whatever you've put out there without a strategy.
- Not painting a consistent image? It'll be harder for them to remember you.
- Not knowing what you want to be known for? Everyone will start associating you with a different thing.
- Not giving a cohesive message? You'll be losing clients to confusion.
What happens when you take charge of your personal brand
Curating your personal brand doesn't mean creating a fake image or persona. On the contrary, it's about being more conscious of what's already there: defining what's relevant, focusing on it and telling the story that you want to be known for, rather than letting your audience put the pieces together themselves.
When you finally take charge of your personal brand, you will:
- Be memorable
- Attract better clients
- Make a stronger impact
- Get noticed in your industry
- Be known for your values (and quirks!)
- Generate more leads and opportunities
- Be taken more seriously and seen as a thought leader
- Have the confidence and ability to start charging more money
How to take charge of your personal brand
Now that you know the difference it can make, where do you start?
- Get in the mindset of being authentic. While some people treat it like a buzzword, real authenticity makes a huge difference. A total of 88% of consumers say it's important when deciding who to support, so faking it would only backfire. For example, if you're a solopreneur, don't use "we" when talking about your business. Own what makes you unique! You see, while many photographers would be ashamed of having a home studio, its coziness and friendly vibes are actually some of my selling points.
- Get clear on your brand values. A brand is more than a logo and some colors: it's about how a company makes its audience feel, and that's the same for your personal brand. Write down some adjectives and words that you want your clients to associate with you. You can also ask some friends or even previous clients to do the same. Do they match? If not, you can start working on them.
- Define what you want to be known for. Of course, you should aim to be seen as an authority in your field. However, personal brands go beyond business (that's why they're called "personal"), so think about passions, hobbies, ethical causes and topics, too.
- Use this to guide your marketing, business and life so that you can keep your brand cohesive. Have those values and topics as both a compass and filter when putting yourself out there, posting content and interacting with your audience.
Before putting the last point into practice on a regular basis, review your existing online (and offline) presence. That way, you can then adjust it accordingly:
- Colors and graphics: Taking color psychology into account, do your current tones reflect your values?
- Tone of voice: Are you trying to come across as warm and chatty, professional and corporate, or something else? All your communication should reflect your values, from your website copy to your social media posts and even when you speak to your audience directly, whether that's in person or on Zoom.
- Clothes: When you meet your audience, network or speak on a stage, are you wearing outfits that match that vibe?
- Photos: Do they create a connection with your audience and reinforce those values? Are they professional shots that complement your personal brand or some selfies that make you be perceived as an amateur? Are you wearing clothes that give off that friendly or professional vibe?
- Social media: What topics are you writing and posting about? Do they reflect the cohesive message you're trying to get across?
- Thought leadership: If someone were to Google you, would they find some patterns or just some random, disconnected pieces? From guest posts to podcasts, start building authority and reinforce your personal brand by putting yourself out there and talking about those specific topics.
Now that we've established that you can definitely have a personal brand (and actually already have one), it's time to take charge of it. Convey a cohesive message, elevate your brand and get ready to see more opportunities come to you!