Personal Branding Guide

Use this marketing guide for your personal brand development.

What is a Personal Brand?

A personal brand is the presence you create for yourself that communicates who you are, what you do, and the things you value. It is the perception of yourself you create for others, and the impression you give off through both in-person and digital channels. 

Personal branding is where personality meets professional ambitions, as people strive to create strong personal brands that represent who they are from a personal perspective, and that communicate the value they offer people from a professional perspective. In this guide, we will cover the core components of a personal brand, tips for defining your own, and strategic considerations for the channels you use to build it.
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Defining Your Personal Brand

Defining your personal brand key elements graphic
Before you can start creating content and grow an audience for your personal brand, you need to establish its foundation. A personal brand should be a genuine reflection of yourself, and it should be aligned to the professional goals you hope to accomplish by establishing it and growing it. 

Ensure you have the following core components of your personal brand planned out to ensure your personal brand development will be fruitful.
Personal Brand Pillars

The pillars, or foundation of your personal brand should be based on your passions and goals. Aligning topics you are passionate about with your career ambitions will give you a foundation from which you can strategically identify the ideal target audience that has those same passions, and can help you achieve your goals.

Spend some time honing in on the aspects of your values and personal interests that you want to focus on in your branding efforts, as these will help you to identify a target audience that shares those same characteristics.

Personal Brand Target Audience

The target audience for your personal brand represents that group of people you are striving to connect with and have your brand messaging resonate with. Once you’ve identified this audience based on common characteristics, and the goals you hope these people will help you to achieve, you need to spend some time learning more about them. 

Creating personal brand personas similar to the way a brand would create personas for its customers will help you to identify key demographic information and emotional drivers that you can cater to in your marketing efforts.
Key Demographic Information and Emotional Drivers to Gather for Your Personal Brand Personas:
To help organize this information, try putting your personal brand personas in a framework like the template pictured below.
Personal branding audience persona matrix graphic
Personal Brand Messaging

Once you identify and understand the basic characteristics of your target audience and their emotional drivers, you can create messaging that resonates with the individuals in that audience. 

Pay particular attention to the interests and pain points / challenges sections of your brand persona work. These represent the characteristics of your audience that they are most passionate about (both negative, and positive), and are opportunities for you to create meaningful messaging and content that speaks to those emotional drivers.

Use this second framework below to line up the key emotional drivers from your target audience with content topics and ideas that target those interests. For example, if your target audience is fitness enthusiasts, their emotional drivers might be a passion for fitness, and interest in nutrition, and feeling pressure to keep up with trends in the fitness industry. To target those emotional drivers, you could content that shares fitness and nutrition tips to target the first two, and news and commentary on fitness trends to service the last driver.
Personal branding messaging framework graphic
Mapping content topics to emotional drivers with this method will inform your content strategy, and help to dictate how much content you should create on each topic by prioritizing content creation for the strongest emotional drivers.
Personal Brand Marketing Channels

Based on where your target audience characteristics, the content that best delivers your messaging, and your own unique skills, you can strategically choose the channels to start building your personal brand on. 

Check out this blog post for more details on defining your personal brand audience, messaging, and content strategy.

Visual Personal Branding

Visual brand marketing doesn’t only apply to companies. The leading personal brands have established a visual identity for their marketing channels and content that stand out, and make them recognizable to people as something they created.

Logo

One of the visual elements you can add to your personal brand is a logo. Gary Vaynerchuck is a personal brand leader we highlight often for its quality, and one of the strategies Vaynerchuk implemented to make his personal brand identifiable is visual branding. 

His logo consists of his signature, giving him something to watermark his images, videos, social profiles, infographics, social media stories, and any other marketing elements he creates. 
Consider creating a logo for your brand and add it across your channels and assets. 

Colors and Fonts

Color and font are two other important characteristics of visual branding that are taken very seriously by companies in their branding. Font and color are both strong identifiers for a brand, and give companies the opportunity to visually communicate their values. 

For example, loud, bright colors like oranges, yellows, and pinks stand out and come across as vibrant, fun and energetic. On the other side, blues represent safety and stability, and are often used in the insurance and software industries to communicate those qualities to customers. 
For your personal brand, you can take advantage of these same characteristics, choosing fonts and colors that match your style and your own personality. 

Social Profiles and Websites

Once you have the components mentioned above solidified for your personal brand, include them across your digital real estate to create a recognizable theme across every channel you use to build your personal brand. 
This includes your personal website, and social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Social media profiles offer various branding opportunities, such as customizable cover images and profile images.

Personal Branding Essentials

In addition to the foundational elements of a personal brand like messaging and visual identity, there are some key components you can use to express these foundational aspects of your brand. 

Having assets like a professional headshot, bio, and digital resume will help you to take advantage of the opportunities various websites and marketing channels offer to communicate who you are and what your brand is all about.
Personal branding essentials graphic
Professional Bio

A professional bio gives you a concise “elevator pitch” that someone can read to get an idea of who you are, what you stand for, and what you do that can bring them value. Your professional bio should establish your credibility and give people confidence in you as a thought leader in your respective industry, and it should align with and support your personal brand goals. 

To accomplish this, including things like your current professional role, any past experience that proves your credibility, skills, education, and key projects and accomplishments. You can also include personal information like hobbies and interests to offer something relatable to your target audience. 

Professional Headshot

A professional headshot is another important asset for personal brand development. It’s an opportunity to put a face to the name, and will help people recognize you and your work. Having a go-to headshot will help you take advantage of the profile photo section on social media channels, and can also be included on channels like your website. 

Use your industry and goals to inform how professional or casual your headshot should be. People in more formal industries like law may opt to go with business attire and a classic look in their headshot, while professionals from creative industries like design may break the mold and go for a more unique and memorable look. When deciding on this, consider your personal brand messaging and make the style of your photo match that messaging For example, if your messaging is funny and sarcastic in terms of tone, go for that same tone in your headshot).

Portfolio Website / Digital Resume

Having a portfolio website or digital resume is an asset you can use to support multiple personal brand ambitions. For those seeking employment, it is a clean and professional looking way to share who you are and your relevant experience with potential employers. For entrepreneurs, it can serve as a digital business card that outlines your key accomplishments, credibility, and how they can get in touch with you. 
Similar to a professional bio, you can include basic information like your professional experience, your professional bio itself, education, etc. Given that you have much more real estate to work with you, you can also include links or files for examples of your work, blog posts and podcasts you’ve written or participated in, and media highlights you’ve been included in. 

Get more tips for your website in this blog post Personal Branding Tips: Most Important Things to Include on Your Portfolio Website.

LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is a channel gaining popularity for personal brand development due to the networks growing audience of professionals. Both entrepreneurs and employed professionals can benefit from creating a LinkedIn profile, and using it to raise the profile of their personal brand. 

Complete the key sections of your LinkedIn profile to best communicate your experience and expertise, and to also make your profile easier for people to find in LinkedIn search results. 

Once you have your profile completed, you can consider using LinkedIn as one of your core personal brand channels, developing a content strategy that will grow your network and increase engagement with your target audience. 

Learn more about leveraging LinkedIn in our LinkedIn personal branding guide.

Get more tips in this blog post for creating your personal branding essentials.

Benefits of Personal Branding

Personal branding success is something often portrayed as a benefit only well known entrepreneurs, influencers, and celebrities can enjoy. That is not the case, as employed professionals and business owners at all levels of their careers can benefit from personal branding. 

At its core, personal branding is the practice of being intentional and strategic about the way you present yourself, build your reputation, and network. A solid professional image and a strong network are assets that are invaluable for career development and supporting entrepreneurial efforts. Consider these benefits as you determine how much you’d like to make personal branding a priority for yourself.

Benefits of Personal Branding Blog Post Header Image
Better Networking

Personal branding is all about making connections and building a network (audience) of people who you engage with about common interests. Making strong connections with people by providing them value and becoming a thought leadership resource for them is both the best personal branding strategy, and the strongest benefit of developing your brand. 

A strong network can lead to new customers for your business, new industry peers, job referrals, and genuine connection around shared hobbies and passions. 

More Job Opportunities

Having a more prominent presence and reputation in your industry will deliver more job opportunities through greater awareness among recruiters, executives, and peers. Being a voice in your industry demonstrates your knowledge and abilities (see below about showcasing skills through personal branding), and will increase the likelihood that you are thought of when new job opportunities arise. 

Develop and Show off Your Skills

Creating a personal brand is difficult, and will challenge you to learn new skills, and put the skills you have to the test. This is a dual-sided benefit because you will develop new skills as you seek to build your personal brand on various channels, and you will also be demonstrating your skills across those channels. 

Examples of this include showcasing design skills (see the section on visual personal branding above), networking skills, and marketing and communications skills as you market yourself and tell your story across social channels, your website, etc. These skills and talent proof points will demonstrate your value to potential employers, and serve you in job roles or entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Career Security

A strong personal brand and the network that comes with it are assets that can protect you when speed bumps pop up in your career path. For example, if you lose a job or are looking for a new job, your network of peers in your industry represents opportunities for job referrals, and should be the first group you start reaching out to when you want to explore new jobs. 

Regardless of what happens in your career, good or bad, your personal brand stays with you, and can serve as a buffer to make transitions between jobs easier.

Passion-Centric

As discussed above in the section on defining your personal brand, the best personal brands are focused on a person’s passions and hobbies. This makes for more authentic points of view and content, and leads to strong connections with a niche network that is passionate about the same topics. 

Building a personal brand or creating a side hustle based on your interests won’t feel like work because you’ll be spending time learning more about a topic you love, and helping other people who enjoy it learn more about it. 

Based on Providing Value to Others
The networking and thought leadership aspects of personal branding are opportunities to teach others and share insights that have been valuable to you. The rewarding feeling of providing value to others is a strong benefit of building your brand, and it will pay even more dividends when that value comes back to you through the avenues discussed above.

Learn more about the benefits of personal brand development in our blog post on the topic.

Personal Branding FAQs

What are the benefits of starting a personal brand? 

Personal brands lead to opportunity. There is no telling what doors will open for you professionally or personally when you become intentional about raising awareness for your personal brand, and growing your network. 

Examples of tangible benefits for employed professionals include more exposure to employment opportunities, an increased likelihood of receiving job referrals, and building a support network you can learn from and accelerate your professional development in your respective field. For entrepreneurs examples of tangible benefits include meeting potential business partners, expanding your audience of potential customers, and more access to a larger talent pool of potential employees.

Are personal brands just for entrepreneurs? 

No, personal brands are for everyone. The benefits of clearly communicating who you are, and building a network of contacts who value the same things and share the same interests are not reserved for business owners. 

This type of audience building is obviously of great value for business owners looking for new customers, partners, etc. However, individuals from all lines of work can benefit from having a strong network. This can lead to support from people who understand your exact position because they share it, resources and information for solving common challenges in your respective industry, job opportunity, and genuine connections that support your wellbeing. 

How much time should I put into my personal brand? 

The more time you put into your personal brand, the more benefit it will yield. That being said, the answer to this question will be unique to each individual, and depend on their goals, existing professional obligations, and how much personal time they want to reserve to recharge away from professional activities. 

For someone who already works a lot in their current job role, and who appreciates work life balance, starting out slowly with personal brand development is a good idea. This might look like starting out with one channel like Twitter, or becoming more engaged on an existing channel like LinkedIn, and being intentional about engaging in a few conversations per week and that channel.

For an entrepreneur or someone who wants to be more aggressive about growing their personal brand audience, they might work on their personal brand every day for several hours, connecting, engaging in conversations, and creating content across multiple channels. 

To find the right balance for yourself, try putting effort into your personal brand in different volumes, and see what feels like too little or too much until you find the right balance. 

What channels should I use to build my personal brand, or how many channels should I have? 

Your personal brand channels should be determined by where your audience is, your own skills, and the type of content that best delivers your key messages. This blog post on personal brand development offers advice on considering these factors, and identifying channels that best match your natural abilities and content strategy, while also having a large representation of your target audience.

In terms of the number of channels you should use to build your personal brand, this should be based on the factors above as well as your available time and the level of maturity your marketing channels currently have. 

If you’ve been working on your brand audience building for a while and already have established followings on multiple channels, continuing to be actively engaged on those channels, and exploring new channels if you have the bandwidth is a good strategy. If you are just starting out, choosing 1-2 channels to focus on, and build an engaged following on is best. That way, your efforts are not diluted across several channels, and you can build a strong audience that you can bring with you to new channels later. 

What do most goals for personal branding have in common?

Most goals for personal branding focus on professional growth. This can include improved networking, building a reputation in your industry, and creating a personal brand to support the growth of a business.

Articles From Brand Credential With Tips for Building Your Personal Brand

Check out these articles from Brand Credential for more personal branding tips.
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10 Content Ideas For Building Your Personal Brand On TikTok10 Content Ideas For Building Your Personal Brand On TikTok
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10 Instagram Personal Branding Content Ideas10 Instagram Personal Branding Content Ideas
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20 LinkedIn Personal Branding Tips 20 LinkedIn Personal Branding Tips
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10 Content Ideas For Building Your Personal Brand On Twitter10 Content Ideas For Building Your Personal Brand On Twitter
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10 Content Ideas For Building Your Personal Brand On LinkedIn10 Content Ideas For Building Your Personal Brand On LinkedIn
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