Personal Branding: Key Steps (Part I)

As the Internet is flooded with content and new small businesses, consumers tend to trust brands that connect to a person’s face faster. “It takes less time and effort to build a relationship with a personal brand as compared to a business brand,” observes Pia Silva, a branding specialist. For example, Elon Musk has much more Twitter followers than his 3 companies Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity combined. Therefore, any professional willing to advance their career and withstand competition, needs to better position themselves in the market. One of the most effective ways to do so is to strengthen one’s personal brand. Here are some key steps to achieve that:    

Step 1: Assess what makes you stand out. Self-assessment is often overlooked although it helps find your distinct voice so that you can position yourself better against competitors with similar work experience. It also helps identify your unique selling proposition (USP), i.e. the unique value that you offer to your target audience.  To start with, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your passion?
  • What are your main beliefs?
  • What are your top 5 strengths?
  • Are you good at leading or doing or both?
  • What can others say about you?

The aim of this exercise is to help you better target your branding activities.

Step 2: Identify your target audience. To build a successful personal brand, you should not try to appeal to everyone as “not everyone is your ideal client”. Instead you need to specify your target audience and build a brand that would appeal to them. You need to accept that your personal brand will not resonate with everyone. The better you understand your perfect client, the better you will be able to create products and services that they need. To achieve that, it is recommended creating your perfect client profile by identifying your clients’ demographic data (their age, gender, education, relationship status, income, profession, etc.), their desires and aspirations and the challenges that they are facing.   

Step 3: Analyze your competitors. To strengthen your brand, you should analyze the content created by your competitors as well as their personal brands and websites. That information will help you improve your own brand. By taking a closer look and your competitors’ profiles and content, you will be able to see what works and what does not. Then you should use that information to improve your own content, thus strengthening your personal brand. The more you know about your competitors’ activities, the better you can see their weaknesses and use that information to your advantage.  

Step 4: Narrow down your area of expertise. First, you need to clarify what kind of expertise you possess: Is your expertise broad (e.g. family law) or is it very specialized (e.g. child custody law)? If your area of expertise is broad, consider narrowing it down. “The more niche your expertise, the easier your rise will be,” explains Elizabeth Harr, a brand management specialist. She also notes that “eventually you will need to follow that intended focus with action”, thus suggesting that the narrower your focus, the easier it is to control it and back it up with specific actions.

Step 5: Create a content strategy. One of the most effective brand building techniques is creating free content. Instead of wasting your time on convincing your target audience that you can help them, try to create content that can be actually helpful to them. By doing so, you are more likely to build trust and establish your position as an expert or authority in your industry. To create a content strategy for your personal brand, first you need to make a list of topics that would be useful to your audience. Then you need to decide what kind of content to create and where to publish it. It is important to note that content marketing will only be effective if you focus on quality and consistency. Never publish content that might reflect poorly on your brand, and also remember to publish your content consistently. “Content marketing is a long-term play, but it pays incredible dividends when done correctly,” notes Tyler Basu, a content marketing specialist.

Read Personal Branding: Key Steps (Part II).

References:  Tyler Basu, | Marietta Gentles Crawford, | | Elizabeth Harr,