Ever since you were born, a story has been forming. Crafted of choices made, intertwining supporting characters and pre-established circumstances, the story you have is completely unique to you. Though, it’s not always easy to figure out exactly who you are. As complex beings, defining yourself to a single mission or identity can be a complicated task.
Personal branding can be a powerful tool when it comes to defining who you are and using it to propel you further towards your goals. In the corporate world, brands with a strong brand identity thrive because it helps them connect better with the customers who relate to them.
If you’re looking to launch a brand one day based on your personal journey or just grow a community online around who you are, defining your personal brand can be the perfect place to start.
What is Personal Branding?
Personal branding is a combination of your story and identity, and how these are perceived by those around you. Your personal brand is what sets you apart from others and helps give you a competitive edge. Consider a Starbucks versus a Dunkin’ Donuts. They both sell coffee, breakfast food and sweet treats.
The overall feeling of these two coffee shops are completely different and is what helps them attract the right customers. Starbucks’ mission statement is to “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Despite their enormous growth, Starbucks still focuses on the details and the individual “one person, one cup, and one neighborhood.” Giving each person a positive, relaxing and cozy experience is what guides their entire brand.
Dunkin’ Donuts mission is to “to be the leading provider of the wide range of delicious beverages and baked products in a convenient, relaxed, friendly environment, that ensures the highest level of quality product and best value for money.” Here words like “best value” and “convenient” shine through their mission statement. They have crafted a brand around people who are on the go and on a budget without sacrificing quality.
In the same way brands define their identity to attract the right audience, so can you.
Why You Should Build a Personal Brand
Having a strong personal brand helps people trust you and better relate to you as a person. It’s not as easy to connect with someone through a screen as it is in real life—especially when social media users will only give you a few seconds to impress them. The stronger your identity shines through in all of your content, the stronger your community will become.
Plus, building a personal brand also helps differentiate you from the competition and spread a positive message about yourself. Humans are going to form opinions on one another based on the information they have. By having a strong personal brand, you’re hand selecting the information about yourself that you want out in the world. This puts you in control of the conversations about you so you can guide them towards your exact goals.
How to Define Your Own Personal Brand
Building a personal brand starts with knowing and understanding yourself on a deeper level. If you don’t know who you really are it will be hard to come across in one cohesive way to the public.
Start by sitting down with yourself and defining what you want, what you love and what your idea of success is. Open up your journal and write down how you want your life to look in five, ten and twenty five years time.
Some other prompts you can dive into to get a deeper understanding of who you are include:
- Who is someone you look up to and why?
- What motivates you towards each of your individual goals?
- What is your favorite way to spend your time on a daily basis?
- When was a moment where you were truly happy or at peace?
- What do you value most in life?
- If money were no object, what would you do?
- What are you good at?
- How do you want to contribute to the world around you?
- If nothing in your life were to change, what would you regret the most once it ended?
Each of these questions will help point you in the direction of who you are so find an hour this week to really analyze yourself. You can even make a whole afternoon out of it by doing some meditation beforehand, brewing yourself a cup of tea or taking yourself for a walk.
It’s possible you might have to break through a hard shell that you’ve been using to protect yourself from the harsh outside world. Treat yourself to some self-love and kindness to help welcome out the most vulnerable parts of yourself.
How to Create a Personal Brand From Scratch
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of who you are, what you do and why you’re doing it. Defining these ideas takes time, so don’t get discouraged if the clearest answers don’t come right away. It might take a few months before you really have a breakthrough about who you are and what you want to do based on your unique goals, traits and skills.
Forming Your Personal Branding Statement
Now it’s time to define the way you want to be perceived by the public by crafting your personal branding statement. This idea will be the guiding light that will influence each choice you make. If you’re a public speaker, your personal branding statement might guide the topics you choose or the locations where you speak. If you’re an interior designer on TikTok, this statement might guide which projects you decide to take on and the specific content you share.
Your personal brand statement should define who you are, what you do, who you serve and the results you provide.
I am ____(what you do)____ who ____(verb of what you do)____ ____(who you serve)____ ____(result you achieve)____.
If you’re a travel blogger, your personal branding statement might be “I am a travel blogger who supports first time, female travelers in planning the trip of their dreams.”
The more specific your statement is the better. Referring to first-time, female travelers helps better define who you’re talking to than just travelers in general. Now everything you put out in the world can be directed to that audience, which will help attract more first-time, female travelers to you.
By having a clear-cut idea of what you do, who you do it for and what your audience members are getting out of it, everything you create will be aligned with your exact goals.
Defining Your Personal Branding Strategy
Now that you have a strong idea of who you are and what you want to bring to the table, it’s time to strategically share that information with the world. First off, you need to figure out where your ideal audience is hanging out. If you’re the creator of a line of dog accessories geared towards gen-Z dog parents, you’ll be better off on a platform like TikTok than Facebook.
If you’re a self-help author, your words might be more powerful in person so you might find your audience giving speeches at different universities. Once you decide whether a strong social media presence, blog, newsletter or in-person events are the best way to connect with your audience, it’s time to dive deeper into your brand.
Start off by creating a guide for all of the ways you want to communicate with your audience. It can be a page in your notebook or an entire powerpoint, but you’ll want to create a place you can go back to if you ever get off track. In this guide you’ll want to define a few short-term and long-term goals, your greatest strength, the problem you’re solving with your content, your ideal audience members—including demographics and psychographics—and your brand voice.
You can use the journaling prompts you did earlier to help answer these questions. This guide will be a more organized and concise place to put all of the ideas you came up with during previous exercise.
Finally, define five content pillars and three content topics for each pillar. If you’re a fashion student your content pillars might be shopping advice, outfit recommendations, fashion school behind the scenes, sewing tutorials and brand reviews. Under the “outfit recommendations” umbrella, you might include content topics like how to style a certain piece of clothing, unboxing new purchases and get ready with me videos.
No matter what you specifically want to share, consistently sharing what matters to you through quality content in the place where your ideal audience lives is key to growing your personal brand.
Personal Branding Examples To Get Inspired By
TikTok influencer, Jenesis Alonso Lopez is a great example of strong personal branding. She sticks to her content pillars by only sharing videos within the beauty niche. She lets her personality shine through by sharing personal stories while she puts on her makeup, her cool profile picture and the little snippets of Spanish she weaves into her videos. Her social media bio reads “your spanglish and beauty amiga” so that her audience knows to expect content around beauty and that is exactly what you get.
Personal Branding Tips to Push Your Personal Brand Further
Building an authentic personal brand takes time and will evolve as you do. If you want to push yourself even further, add books to your library like Find Your Why, Big Magic and Speak. You can also work through things you’re struggling with by seeing a therapist, which will help you better connect with yourself. Spending time alone and in nature can also help you better connect with who you are.
Why Hire a Personal Branding Coach
Another way to propel yourself and your personal brand forward is by hiring a personal branding coach. A good coach will have already achieved the success you’re looking for and will know how to guide you to your own personal success more quickly. They will save you a lot of time and energy since they’ve likely been learning, growing and making mistakes for years so they’ll be able to guide you through the good, bad and the ugly.
When looking for a coach, make sure they have the credentials to give you what you need. This means your idea of success aligns and the coach already has something you want and can show you exactly how they achieved it.
Time to Write Your Personal Brand Story
Your personal branding approach will take time, but is very worth it in the long run. As you define your personal brand, you’ll better connect with your audience, differentiate yourself from the competition and positively control the narrative around yourself.
Over the next few months, commit to the vision you have for yourself through the exercises you learned today. Before you know it, you’ll have a strong personal brand and an audience that truly connects with you.