In a world crowded with products, services, and advertising messages vying for your attention, strong branding has become crucial for creating connection. And with attention spans becoming shorter by the minute, making a strong first impression is more important than ever. Solid and memorable brand identities aren’t only valuable for businesses, they play a huge role in personal success, too – and Oprah Winfrey is a perfect example of this. Thanks to her powerful personal brand, she’s built a net worth of over 3.5 billion USD and is the wealthiest self-made woman in America. While you might not be looking to build a billion-dollar empire like Oprah, personal branding plays a huge role in standing out from the crowd – whether you’re applying for a new job, starting a company, exploring freelance work opportunities, or simply wanting to take control of how you are being presented online. Here’s how to build your personal brand:
- Find your focus
Strong brand messaging is concise, unique, and free of fluff. But how do you find yours?
- Consider your passions and areas of skill – think about areas of business (or life in general) that you’re clued up on and passionate about. This will give your brand niche longevity and focus.
- Understand your narrative – what drives you and makes you uniquely you? Are there parts of your upbringing that have influenced who you are today? How do you want to be perceived?
- Keep it real – be true to yourself and genuine. If your personal brand is an honest reflection of yourself, it makes sticking to your narrative much easier.
- Get inspired – if there’s an influential leader or celebrity you look up to, there’s no harm in borrowing elements of their personal branding. Just ensure it truthfully aligns with you or who you aspire to be.
- Understand your audience – if you’re trying to stand out to a particular crowd, consider how you can tailor your personal brand for maximum appeal.
- Live your brand
Once defined, it’s crucial to keep your personal brand at the forefront of your business and personal life. It shouldn’t be something you feel like shedding at the end of a busy day; it should follow you everywhere you go. With a personal brand that genuinely reflects your values and beliefs, it’s simple to live your brand. And when people feel like they know you and what you stand for, they’re more likely to trust you. Gaining trust is a big part of building any successful brand, as it drives connection and loyalty.
- Have a plan
Like any successful business, you should have a plan for your personal brand. What are you hoping to achieve with your personal brand, or how will you use it? With clear objectives, goals, and targets outlined (development planning is a valuable tool to help you define these), you’ll be able to stay focussed on achieving success.
- Consistency is key
A personal brand only builds momentum and strength through consistency. And that includes consistency in how often you post on social media, consistency in how you live your brand and consistency in your online and offline messaging. This consistency reinforces your personal brand, helps to make you memorable and ultimately is what sets you apart from others.
- Take control of your online narrative
With social media and Google, it’s easy to find out information about almost anyone with a few clicks. In fact, roughly 70% of employers Google a prospective employee before interviewing and hiring them. For that reason, it’s essential to be aware of how you appear online and keep this in line with how you want to be perceived. While social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram may not be professional networking sites, they should be reflective of your values and personal brand and be used as an opportunity to present yourself in the best positive light. Here’s how to clean up your online presence:
- Audit your accounts – do a reccy of all your online accounts and delete or deactivate any that you no longer use or want to be associated with.
- Google yourself – see what information is in the public domain and remove anything that doesn’t align with your personal brand. If you need to remove a photo from Google, the Google Help Centre has instructions.
- Create a personal or professional website or blog – this allows you to grow your personal branding and increase your online visibility in a way that you can control.
- Check your privacy settings – review privacy settings for all your online accounts and social media profiles and take stock of who you are sharing information with. For any information that you are uncomfortable with the public (or future employers) viewing, adjust the privacy settings accordingly or delete it.
- Be prepared to evolve, change, and fail
Nailing your personal branding the first time is rare, so while it’s essential to be consistent with your personal brand, you need to know when something isn’t working and when to adapt and evolve. Building a solid personal brand often takes a lot of trial and error, and many highly successful people (including Oprah) have failed their way to success. While it’s human nature to want to avoid failure, often it’s when we’re pushed outside of our comfort zone that the magic happens – the same rings true when it comes to finding your personal branding sweet spot.
Take control, and build brand ‘you’
By taking stock of how you want to be perceived, ensuring you’re accurately and truthfully presenting yourself to the world and creating some structure around brand ‘you,’ you’ll find ease in the way you present yourself both on and offline. And by building this consistent brand alongside a clear plan, you’ll quickly find opportunities flow through in all the right places.