Personal branding has gone from a trend reserved for celebrities and famous influencers, to an essential business skill that pays dividends in terms of job opportunities, client acquisition, and even serving as the foundation for launching a business.
Having the ability to tell your story in an engaging and relatable way, and to leverage it to network and open the doors to new opportunities is a skill set and time investment with nearly unlimited ROI.
People with established brands and newcomers looking to get started should consider the following personal branding tips as they define and grow their own brands to achieve their goals.
Creating a brand narrative is one of the first steps to personal brand development. This means figuring out what topics you want to be known for, which will inform the content you create and share with your audience.
A brand narrative is a story that encompasses who you are, what your interests are, where you came from, things you are passionate about and stand for, and anything else that helps to make up who you are. Maybe you’re a business owner who can share lessons and stories from their journey building a business, or perhaps you’re a fitness enthusiast who can share their latest workout tips and nutrition advice. Honing in on the things you like, and how those things can translate to storytelling through content creation are the keys to building a personal brand narrative.
Start With a Narrow Brand Focus and Expand
Your personal brand narrative is not something that needs to be figured out immediately, and can be developed over time. Some of the best personal brands start with a focus on one topic or area of expertise, and then expand into others over time as their audience grows and their brand develops.
An example of this gradual brand progression from a well known entrepreneur and influencer is Gary Vaynerchuk’s personal brand development. He began sharing tips and personal experiences from his journey while building his family’s wine business, which evolved into a brand focused on teaching people the ins and outs of business and marketing, and the eventual founding of a marketing agency. Gary has continued to evolve his personal brand over time, adding hobbies like trading cards, garage sale flipping, and his love for the NY Jets football team to his brand narrative.
When setting out to start your personal brand, focus on one or two topics you know a lot about and enjoy discussing, and start creating content about those two themes. This will give you a baseline from which to tweak your brand strategy. Perhaps you find you don’t enjoy talking about one of those topics, or you realize one of them is the thing you’re most passionate about. Start small and expand the topics you talk about gradually over time to find your sweet spot.
Examples of Personal Brand Narratives
Here are some personal brand narratives that exemplify how you can establish a brand focused on content about several topics, and how those topics will resonate with different segments of your audience:
For more guidance on creating your narrative, check out this personal brand framework blog post that outlines steps for defining your personal brand.
A common mistake that new businesses and marketers make is spreading their marketing efforts too thinly. Avoid this risk in your personal brand development by being intentional and strategic about choosing the channels you intend to use to grow your brand.
Business owners, entrepreneurs, and business professionals generally have limited time available to develop their personal brands given their focus on other endeavors. Choosing a few marketing channels (or perhaps just one) to start with and go all-in on is a better strategy than trying to be on every channel and having your posts and engagement be too infrequent to have an impact in building an audience.
The channels you choose to start developing your brand on should play to your strengths, and most importantly be used regularly by the audience you are trying to reach. An example of this for visual creators would be investing time into developing a YouTube or Instagram channel where they can share the videos and images they create. For strong writers, Twitter, Medium, or LinkedIn might be the best fit. For a B2B business owner or professional coach, focusing on LinkedIn to reach its professional audience would be a good pick.
Tips for Choosing the Right Channels to Develop Your Personal Brand
Check out our personal branding toolkit to learn about platforms you can use to create content and establish your branding across channels.
Speaking of marketing channels, LinkedIn is a platform that offers value from a personal branding perspective regardless of your business goals or industry. Whether you are aiming for customer acquisition, networking with potential partners, or accessing talent to grow your business, there are benefits to expanding your brand presence within LinkedIn’s professional network.
LinkedIn Personal Branding Tips
Follow these tips to establish yourself on LinkedIn, and to start leveraging your profile to expand your audience:
Get more LinkedIn marketing tips from this blog post about LinkedIn content ideas for building your personal brand, and this blog post on LinkedIn profile SEO.
Blogging about your respective areas of expertise is an excellent way to build credibility and raise awareness for your personal brand. Longer form content like blog posts allow you to expand in detail on topics and news within your field, and to provide more value for people.
The key to blogging is writing something people will want to read and find useful. What tips do you have that could help people in your field? What experiences can you share with them? Figuring out what unique viewpoints and expertise you have to contribute will guide your blog content strategy, and give you actionable ways to reach your audience.
Steps to Follow for Adding Blogging to Your Personal Brand Strategy
Visual branding isn’t only applicable for businesses. Giving your personal brand a recognizable visual identity is an opportunity to further communicate who you are, and to help your audience easily identify you and your content. In addition to being recognizable, using visual brand elements will make you come across as professional across your marketing channels.
Examples of Visual Personal Branding Opportunities
Consider each of these channels and content opportunities for establishing your personal brand’s visual identity, and aim for consistency:
Check out our case study on Gary Vaynerchuk's personal brand for more examples of his strong visual branding that you can use as a reference.
Personal brand development isn’t just about creating and publishing content. Engaging with other people’s content is a powerful strategy for making real connections and growing your audience. Commenting on other people’s posts, sharing content from other creators you know to help them promote it, and joining ongoing conversations on social media platforms are all ways you can engage with posts from other people.
Not only will this help you to establish a connection with the person who posted the content, it also will give your comment, and in turn, your profile or page, exposure to that individual’s audience. This is why engaging with other people’s content helps to build genuine connections with current connections, and expands your brand’s reach to new audiences and potential connections.
Opportunities to Engage with Other People’s Content
Try these tips for engaging with other people’s content:
In a world where social media followers have literally become currency (ex. some influencer marketing agencies structure their sponsorship fee programs based on follower count), it’s easy to get caught up in striving for audience rapid growth.
This is a dangerous mentality when it comes to building your personal brand, as your connections will know when they’re being sold to, and recognize the difference between genuine connection attempts and intentions purely for personal gain.
With this in mind for, some of the best personal brand development strategies are the least scalable. Responding to a comment, answering a question you know the answer to, sharing a helpful tip, etc. are all examples of ways to provide real value to your connections, but they also require real effort.
Putting in the time to network and get to know people is the only way to build an engaged audience. Spend time interacting with people, creating content that helps them and provides value, and you will slowly, but surely be building your brand’s audience. Great brands (both personal, and company brands) are built one at a time, not through shallow large scale follower growth.
Developing brand identity and awareness is a strategy with benefits for entrepreneurs and professionals in every industry. Follow the personal branding tips in this blog post to build your own brand.
Discover how to unlock the full potential of your personal brand and learn how it can benefit you in both your personal and professional life.
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