A personal brand is essentially an expression of who you are – what you stand for, what you represent and what your values are, amongst other things. In a way, it is a version of you that can be used most effectively to manipulate a group of people into (ideally) liking you more.
However, this is something that’s easier said than done. Creating a personal brand for oneself can seem to be an extremely daunting task. Your personal brand should ideally highlight your strengths, establish a reputation, build trust amongst potential audiences and at the same time express the unique values that you add to your field or industry. In order to establish yourself as a brand, it is important to keep in mind that being a pioneer in your field or doing brilliant things is not going to ensure an established personal brand. It is merely something that acts as an added bonus. Think about Elon Musk. Now, think about all other entrepreneurs with equally successful companies but whose names you do not know.
Let’s discuss Oprah. She started her career on a small local show. While this wasn’t something that propelled her into being a celebrity, she strongly believes that it was ‘a great way of introducing me to the city.’ Oprah’s story – the story of a Black Woman climbing the ladder in America provides inspiration to millions of people today primarily because of the wonderful narrative used to portray it to the public. Her fame has nothing to do with her physical attractiveness, acting skills, scientific patents or inherited titles, and everything to do with her story and how she shared it with the world.
In our ever-evolving job market and booming creator economy, people are busy trying to draw attention to themselves and to their work to stand out and honestly, good for them! A personal brand is for almost everyone, but before you go about trying to build a brand for yourself, there are some key things that you must keep in mind.
- Be authentic: Yes, we know this sounds cliché, but one of the most important things when it comes to personal branding is being true to yourself. Often, when we are inspired by someone’s work and the way they portray themselves, we end up thinking that this will work for us as well. But the truth is – what works for others, need not work for you.
Plus, if you are true to yourself, it will also become easier for you to manage your brand as it is merely a reflection of who you are. Focus on the hits as well as the misses. Remember there is no good story without a good struggle. Embrace the climb and use it to resonate with your audience. This will not only help you build a supportive community but also get you the required help from people higher up the ladder.
- Focus on a niche: To this end all we have to say is – don’t be a jack of all trades and master of none. Decide on what your message is and stick to it. This does not mean that your message cannot change from time to time. However, it is essential that you stick to one message, one idea that your brand will be based on.
Think of yourself as a TV channel. You cannot show daily soaps, music videos, movies, sport and news in one channel. Well, at least not anymore. Keeping your content focused on as specific a niche as possible will ensure that your content and what you have to say resonates within the target community.
- Research and Planning – To build your personal brand, you need to be steadily involved in research and planning. This will give you an understanding of what kind of content works for your industry and what doesn’t, it might also help you identify a gap that you can help bridge with your voice and content. Once this is settled, plan your content and the way in which you will present the same on different platforms.
We know what you are thinking, but didn’t they just suggest me to be authentic? Yes. But authenticity doesn’t mean poor quality content. You have to give your target audience the best show possible in whatever you choose to do. And for that, you have to put in the hours.
- Consistency is key – It will be easier for you to get recognized within your field if you consistently create relevant, good quality content and keep showing up. You have to ensure that all channels of communication, your appearance, and the way you carry yourself remain consistent across all platforms both offline and online. This allows people to identify your brand with you and associate your signature style (of writing, speaking and even dressing) with you.
- Document everything – If you have reached this part of the blog, you must be sincerely trying to build a brand out of yourself. So, let’s take a page from the celebrity manual – documentation. You may have just started your journey. But we would highly recommend that you begin documenting it. Are you a new entrepreneur working from a small garage setup? Make a video, click a few photos. Did you just start a new food handle on Instagram? Take a screenshot of the date and the current follower base. Not only will they hold immense value to your audiences some day, they will be invaluable reminders of how far you’ve come.
A personal brand is a lifelong project that will go through evolutions and changes as you grow and evolve as an individual. While there are no hard and fast rules to follow, these are some guidelines that you can always keep in mind as you embark upon a journey to create a brand of yourself. Not only does it allow you to enjoy the perks of popularity, trust us when we say that this is one of the key steps towards unlocking your full potential as a 21st century sapien.