No matter what people tell you they think about you, there is always a little bit of something they leave behind the closed doors of their mind. That exact ‘little bit of something’ is your personal brand.
Regardless of who you are and what you do, you do have a personal brand. The catch is, some of us create this personal brand with a lot of thoughts and efforts put into it, whereas for others, it is merely the impression they leave behind. Presumably, if something already exists, we shall make the best out of it. Furthermore, entering into the year 2021, where the world is more competitive than ever, and the only shot at a meaningful and successful life is by becoming your true self – as an entrepreneur, designer, creator, or anything else in between, personal branding carries weight like never before.
Personal Brand vs. Business Brand
Now, before we dive deep into what personal branding is, it is important to understand what personal branding isn’t.
When we think about branding, most of us simply jump to strategies and aspects of business branding. So often, that business branding has just become…branding. Therefore, let’s get the basics out of the way concerning the difference between personal branding and business branding.
To begin simple, as the name suggests, business branding or corporate branding is all about products/services, an entity that is not you (a.k.a. your business), people, and operational activities. On the other hand, when we are talking about personal branding, we are inclined towards a brand that is about you, your values, movements you support, and so on. To understand from one of the most famous examples: Apple is a business brand, and Steve Jobs (his life, movies made on him, books he suggests, his habits, etc.) is a personal brand example.
While the two terms are certainly different, the line is a blur; mainly because with both of these branding approaches, eventually, your goal is to become more appealing to a certain group of people. So is personal branding truly important?
Why Give Two Hoots about Personal Branding
One of the most common mistakes we make – including leading entrepreneurs, is that when we think about words ‘personal’ and ‘branding’ together, we assume it is about us. After all, it’s your personal brand, of course, it has to be about you! Right? Well, not entirely. Your personal brand is what other people know you to be. And here’s why it’s more important than you might think:
Lead like Oprah Winfrey
As a creator – rather, as a person, the foremost quality that people would find attractive in you is how well do you know yourself. Let’s take a look at one of the leading personalities surrounded by quality and effective personal branding: Oprah Winfrey. Her road to success was not all hunky-dory, and she certainly didn’t win millions of hearts in just a day. Before she became The Oprah Winfrey: Host of Quality Shows, Books, and People, she used to run TV shows that now she calls “trash TV.” It was only after she realized where she stands as a person, she became a leader we all look up to.
Earn Like Gary Vaynerchuk
As you enhance your personal branding and know what personal branding is to you, you open doors to new opportunities without even trying to do so (besides your efforts put into building your personal brand, of course). One of the personal branding gurus, Gary Vee, puts personal branding into a very simplistic perspective, “It’s the only thing you’re going to have,” he says. Now that is a tad overwhelming along with simplistic. However, he has proven that this path towards success, personal branding, is not only doable but also fruitful.
To sum it up, build your personal brand as an extension of who you are, where your ground lies, and what you offer to the people.
Personal Branding in the Year 2021
In the competitive landscape of the year 2021, your personal brand is what defines you and separates you from several other similar creators. It goes without saying: your personal brand needs more time, attention, and effort than you think. Moreover, the world today is anything but the same as before, and personal branding isn’t immune to the forever-changing dynamics of the world. Thus, it becomes crucial to advance your personal brand as we move ahead.
Create a Logo
Yes, you might already have it. However, there are tons of logos around the world. So… is your logo strong and memorable enough to stand out even long after it’s been seen? Here’s a fact to shine a light on the importance of quality, memorable, and unique logos: humans interpret an image in about 13 milliseconds. For perspective, Nike’s logo connects with people exactly how the brand wants. The tagline reads ‘Just do it’ and a curvy tick mark as a logo matches the same, and eventually, inspires users to move more towards sports.
One Channel at a Time
The scope of personal branding is boundless. With the advancement of technology and the seeping of the internet in our daily lives, there are (and will be) numerous channels to be leveraged. However, targeting people through all channels is a lot more complicated than it seems. I suggest, find your strength concerning communication. If you do well at writing, build your brand through social media posts and blogs. Whereas, if you excel at spoken word, videos and podcasts could be the fitting first step. Also, an advantage to focusing on one channel at a time is that – as you move ahead, you can share one form of content on all the channels.
A Piece of Your Life
Let’s break down one of the most (in)famous personal branding examples: Keeping Up With The Kardashians. It is simply a documentation of their lives, and it works. Why? Because the people you wish to lead or reach want to know who you are when you are not branding yourself. They want to learn from your mistakes, sympathize with your struggles, root for your success, and then explore what you offer. Now, this cannot be 100% associated with your business (well, it can be but then it wouldn’t serve the purpose) so do not shy away from going outside your business brand.
Do it for Others
As we discussed, even though it is your personal brand, you are building it while revolving around what others think and want from you. Research on what your target audience seeks; take surveys and get involved through forums, and understand what people want, not merely what you have to offer. Doing this will ensure that the content you create and the effort you put, are reaching your target audience as planned.
An Obvious Bonus: Professional Portraits
To build an effective personal brand, know what is the center of that personal brand, a.k.a. become self-aware. You surely think you know who you are between your ears. However, to turn yourself into a personal brand, you have to know more about yourself than you already do. Know what your reputation is, and combine it with who you are.
As for the literal sense, a good way to increase your reach into people’s lives is by showing them exactly who you are – including how your life looks. This does not mean you have to look good, rather, come out as you are in pictures with quality lightning and relatable background. To get a perfect mugshot, I suggest investing a bit into hiring an experienced photographer and let them capture who you are; eventually, portraying what your personal brand has behind the curtains.
To Wrap Up
You may go through loads of pieces of content about personal branding, but an actionable approach is something that will require your patience, self-made strategies, and you in your entirety. It may not happen in a month, or even in a year, but standing out from the crowd and connecting with communities will require the best of you to work towards it constantly. And before you realize it, your personal brand will be growing like a weed.
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.