Of Course You Need a Personal Brand! Here’s Why (and How).

Sky Capriolo

Have you ever sat down and really examined who you are?  Your core values, adjectives you’d like used to describe you, your biggest strengths and why people should want to connect with you? If you’re looking to establish a personal brand, this is a must. You, as a brand, encompasses:

  • who you are 
  • what you stand for
  • why people should care

How do you want people to feel when they see you or hear your name? For this blog, we’re examining how to establish your personal brand and why it’s important for nearly everyone these days. It becomes something you carry with you in-person and, increasingly, in our digital worlds.

Reputation + Brand = Past, Present & Future

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and billionaire, is credited with saying, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” I’d say the vast majority of us would like those words to be kind and positive. There is work involved to get to that point, and it goes beyond your reputation. Harvard Business Review posted an article that says your reputation is tied to your past actions, while your brand is about visibility and the values you represent. In other words, don’t rest on your laurels. Be intentional with who you are going forward. 

Allie Barke, of Allie Barke Social Media Marketing, has made a business out of her own branding, and also helps other companies capture that deliberate marketing space. She’s our social media partner, in fact!

“I started a fashion blog back in high school (15 years ago!). I started with just a website, then as social media became more popular, I joined Instagram and grew my presence there. My experience in branding/promoting myself led to various internships and jobs in digital marketing. What started as a fun creative outlet led to my work helping businesses, large and small, with their digital presence,” says Barke.

In today’s highly digital age, Barke insists everyone needs to be aware of their personal brand, even if they don’t think they have one.  

“Your digital identity is part of (and I would say a significant part of) your reputation. Good or bad, that’s the reality nowadays. If you have no digital footprint, that’s saying something in itself. If you’re applying for a job, the recruiter is Googling you. If you’re going on a first date, that person is probably Googling you. If you’re a business, your customers are searching for you online too.

The data is compelling: 9 out of 10 people will look up a new business online before visiting; 1 in 4 consumers are very unlikely to visit a business that doesn’t have an online presence.”

Follow in These Footsteps

Universally, the first step to creating a brand is answering some simple questions, like:

  • What motivates you?
  • What’s your inspiration?
  • What are your goals?
  • What makes you unique?
  • Why are you valuable in a certain space (work, community, etc.)

It can definitely seem a bit overwhelming as you begin. Keep your answers short and simple, then build more depth later as you discover nuances you hadn’t realized existed. Barke gives these tips as reminders to keep you on task: 

  • Focus on what makes you unique.
    • This could be in your career or personal life, or both. A mixture of the two is often the most interesting!
  • Share what you’re passionate about.
    • It makes the whole process easier, and you’ll come off as more authentic. 
  • Don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
    • A smaller, more engaged audience is often better than going too broad. 
  • Don’t be afraid to get vulnerable or use humor.
    • Remember that on any platform, people first and foremost, want to be entertained. 

It’s a Process to See Progress

Developing a personal brand does not happen overnight. Take it in chunks: 

  • get through your simple questions
  • define your target audience
  • know your goals 
  • select the medium best fitted to your needs (email, social media, website, etc.) 

As for the medium, when it comes to social media options, Barke suggests concentrating on one or two platforms at first. “It’s easier to grow your brand when you focus your attention on learning the ins and outs of two platforms vs. four.”

Two final points: One, personal branding needs to be authentic. Just like a product that doesn’t live up to what it promised, if you fake who you are and it comes out (it always comes out), you’ll be labeled as disingenuous. That can result in losing a job, getting dumped or any number of negative outcomes online. Instead of having to rebuild trust, be truthful from the beginning. 

And, two, make your branding a regular habit. Not only does it solidify how people react to you, but consistency also builds momentum. That tide of goodwill can carry you further toward your goals, with a lot less energy on your part. Good luck!

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