Facebook. E-newsletters. Robo calls. Website pop-ups. Creepy personalized social media ads.
The deluge of marketing messages has become so mind numbing, Generation Z’s era of digital natives has only an 8-second attention span. If this is the future of marketing, how can businesses compete?
Enter personal branding. Today’s savvy consumers want meaningful connections and powerful storytelling.
So, what is personal branding?
If you think you have to be part of the Instagram-happy Kardashian family, think again. Personal branding is more than an online persona. It’s your reputation, “and your reputation in perpetuity is the foundation of your career,” says Gary Vaynerchuk.
Think of personal branding as the best version of yourself — with all of your best skills and assets. Similar to a business brand, a personal brand helps distinguish you from everyone else. It’s what potential clients and employers see when they Google you.
Personal branding builds credibility and trust by consistently and constantly promoting yourself. However, it’s important to keep it real with transparency and honesty.
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Create a mission statement.
Building a personal brand is like making a great first impression. You want to put your best foot forward.
When you think of your elevator speech or positioning statement, what makes you stand out? What are you passionate about? Why do you do what you do? Those skills that you totally rock should be the focus of your personal brand.
Are you a fantastic photographer? Use that.
Do you make awesome graphics? Focus on that.
A personal branded hashtag or tagline will quickly hone in on what your personal brand is truly about. The point of the statement is to explain what you’re about while also differentiating yourself from every other professional in your industry. Be descriptive, and don’t be afraid to add some personality!
The ideal positioning statement, according to HubSpot:
- Is concise — one sentence is ideal
- Uses verbs to explain what you do instead of nouns (i.e., no job titles)
- Avoids overused words (“motivated,” “strategic,” “driven”)
- Avoids industry jargon and acronyms
Learn how to write a professional bio that gets noticed with free templates, tips and examples from HubSpot.
Always, always be yourself. That’s the point, after all.
When building your personal brand, stay genuine. The goal is to show the best version of yourself. Instead of creating an alter ego, ask yourself what you’d tell a potential employer during a job interview.
Don’t be a copycat. It’s fine to draw inspiration from others who’ve successfully built their own personal brand. However, your audience will know if you blatantly copy someone else’s brand. “People can see right through a disingenuous act,” says Monica Lin.
Your personal brand is something that should come naturally. If you’re genuine, it’ll be much easier to carry this “filter” throughout all of your online platforms.
Which brings us to the next point:
Tell your story everywhere all the time.
Be consistent with your storytelling — including profile pictures and bio. This will help your audience remember your face. Consider creating your own logo or signature that carries across all platforms — something visual and unique to help you stand out.
The overall style of your social media posts, accounts, websites and blogs also should carry along the same visual themes — sticking to a certain color scheme, using the same graphics or implementing the same, unique typography.
Carry a consistent brand through all of your e-mails with HubSpot’s e-mail signature generator.
Above all, make sure you’re showing some personality. It can even be as simple as having a catchphrase.
A YouTuber named Safiya Nygaard starts every video by saying, “Hello friends.” Nygaard’s YouTube channel has amassed more than 8.2 million followers — who purchase her T-shirts that simply say “Hello friends.”
Searchable keywords matter.
Don’t forget to maintain search engine relevance with keywords that are discoverable through Google search. Yes, that means keywords.
To figure out the best keywords, consider the ideal client profile or ideal employer profile. What are their pain points? What are they looking for? What can you offer then to help solve their problems?
Keywords typically should represent your specific skills. They also could be related to your ideal job title or job description. Focus on a couple of keywords, not a Google thesaurus full of search terms. Insert them into the bios of your LinkedIn profile, Twitter bio, blog, resume and website.
The proof is in the pudding. Deliver the goods.
If you’re not in the creative business — where you’re naturally showing off graphics or photography, think outside of the box a little. How can you prove your worth to your potential new client (this is why we started with the mission statement)?
Start a blog. Contrary to what others might tell you, a blog doesn’t have to be heavy writing or super creative. Depending on your industry, your blog could be as simple as a Q & A format. This can go a long way to prove that you actually know your stuff.
Are you an expert in your field? Or do you have a unique perspective? Answer some questions on Quora. Create a weekly live Facebook video. Start a YouTube channel.
Who’s doing personal branding right?
Monica Lin, better known as Thundercup, is a Taiwanese-American marketing director and Internet personality. Her day job is as a marketing director at Popular Demand, a Los Angeles-based clothing brand.
Appropriately enough, she is the authority on personal branding. Lin grew her social media from zero to more than 50,000 on Instagram alone. She also has very high engagement rates on Twitter and other social platforms.
At only 30, Cyrene Quiamco, or CyreneQ, is a Filipino-American social media artist, influencer, published author, public speaker, and Augmented Reality Lens Creator. She is known for creating art on Snapchat. She created the world’s first featured-length Snapchat-made documentary. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Entrepreneur and Business Insider.
Gary Vaynerchuk, also known as GaryVee, is the preemptive authority on marketing and entrepreneurship. Vaynerchuk is best known for growing his father’s Springfield, New Jersey store, Shopper’s Discount Liquors, from $3 million a year to $60 million a year by 2003. He is a New York Times best selling author, speaker and prolific Internet personality — with a well-read blog, Hustler’s Digest e-newsletter, a YouTube channel that touts “new videos every day,” a closed Facebook group called “First In Line with GaryVee,” etc.
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Why personal branding?
Personal branding is an inbound marketing approach that:
- Brings opportunity to you: A good personal brand can help customers, clients, employers and even the media discover you and reach out — presenting you with tons of new opportunities.
- Improves your networking power: If people discover you and find you interesting enough, they’ll want to follow you online. Eventually, this can lead to real-life connections — and more ways to back yourself up when you’re networking in-person.
- Builds your business: In the same way your personal brand can improve your networking, it can also build your business. It helps clients connect — and shows them your success.
- Finds your voice: When you’re truly authentic with your personal brand, it helps you discover yourself. And as this authentic you receives positive feedback, it can help build up your self-confidence and self-esteem — helping turn you into that best version of yourself that you built online.