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I once heard a saying that touched me deeply. It goes like this: “We all die twice: the first time we take our last breath and the second time our name is said for the last time.” Powerful, right?
It reminded me of personal branding. First of all, most things remind me of personal branding, because I have a personal branding agency, but there is also another reason. You see, personal branding is becoming something of a buzz concept, with many people fearing it’s just a fad. To me, however, personal branding is about much more than social media likes or selfie videos or the number of followers. For me, personal branding is a powerful tool that helps us build equality in our name. And what, if not our names, will stay with us forever, until our last day and perhaps even beyond?
As an businesskinda.com, I work hard to create equity in my company’s corporate brand – my personal branding agency called Brand of a Leader. But I’m also well aware of the non-linear journey my business is likely to go through (I’ve experienced a business crash in the past and know full well that no business is immune). Even if we continue to scale rapidly as we have done so far, we may eventually decide to stop. And what happens if we leave or lose our company? We feel that we have also abandoned part of our identity.
A personal brand protects us against that. It protects us from the ups and downs and the hinges along the way, giving us fortitude and portability. And the best news for many of you: a personal brand can be built entirely on social media! Here are the five steps we use to build the personal brands of entrepreneurs at Brand of a Leader and recommend you follow to build yours:
Related: 3 Keys to Build Your Personal Brand
Step 1: Identify what makes you unique
What distinguishes you from others? You may not be able to think of anything that will make you stand out in your particular industry, but the good news is that it doesn’t matter. A personal brand is about WHO you are and not WHAT you do.
Start by identifying the strongest and most relevant aspects of who you are. What you define becomes the cornerstone of your personal brand.
As a company that works uniquely with entrepreneurs, we understand that no two entrepreneurs are the same. That same idea applies to how each person will determine what makes them unique. What we do is a series of deep dives to reveal what is prominent about the individual, which can emerge by asking a series of questions:
What are your core values?
What is your personality?
What is your expertise?
What’s your story?
What is your WHY?
Without a differentiator, there’s no brand – there’s just a reputation, so take the time you need to identify yours. This step is crucial.
Step 2: Get clarity about your target audience
As entrepreneurs, we all know what a target audience means. But how it applies to personal branding is different from the corporate marketing term we’re used to.
When our agency works to build a personal brand strategy, we focus on two audiences. The first usually reflects the businesskinda.com’s business target audience (usually their core customer).
The second is quite different: it’s an audience that doesn’t make money in any way. I encourage you to think of an audience of people you would like to inspire with your personal brand.
Step 3: Determine your brand descriptors
A brand is all about associations and the consistency of communicating them. When it comes to brand descriptors, we’re trying to determine how you want to be seen. As humans, we can all be described in a hundred different ways. However, if we are all things at once, then there is nothing that really sets us apart.
I suggest making a list of three to five words that you want people to describe you consistently. Then make a list of three to five words that you don’t want people to describe you with.
Do you want to do a self-awareness test quickly? Text 10 people who know you well enough but aren’t too close to you, ask them how they would describe you, and see if their adjectives match those on your list.
Related: 8 Reasons Why a Powerful Personal Brand Will Make You Successful
Step 4: Limit what you’re going to talk about
This brings me to the content pillars – the topics you want to be associated with. We get this question all the time at Brand of a Leader: “I’m ready to get myself out there, but what am I going to talk about?” When choosing the topics you want to become synonymous with, I recommend sticking to two to four.
First, identify one or two key topics that will help you build your credibility. Then pick an additional one to two topics that will humanize your credibility. This can be anything you are passionate about. If you were going to a barbecue with friends or even co-workers today, what things would you be talking about?
Step 5: Choose a platform that works for you
We all need platforms to build visibility. However, I’m not just talking about social media platforms. Social media gives scale, but it is possible to build a very strong brand by writing a book or giving lectures. Seth Godin is an undisputed thought leader in marketing, yet his social media presence is disappointing. Instead, he’s published a plethora of bestsellers, gives high-impact talks, and has a uniquely awesome daily newsletter. Pick a platform you can go all-in on and build your visibility on it before adding another to your self-marketing mix.
Related: 3 Ways to Boost Your Personal Brand
And there you have it, fellow businesskinda.com: Five steps that will involve a lot of soul-searching and internal deep-diving. Following these steps will take you way beyond people going in the completely wrong order – choosing a platform first, then deciding what to talk about and thinking about their audience – never getting intentional about their brand descriptions or any unique differentiator . Happy brand building, and may your name be spoken of for decades and centuries to come!
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.