Like it or not, we live in an age where the dividing line between “celebrity” and “leader” is blurrier than ever. From politicians to CEOs to TikTok stars – brands aren’t just businesses anymore. They’re people. Many companies have leant into a “personal branding” positioning – even those of us who couldn’t visualise a car produced by Tesla are familiar with Elon Musk, for example.
Naturally, that level of exposure is not open to most brands, nor would it suit them. However, the lessons are still useful… almost every business, whether you’re a small start-up or established player in the market, can use personal branding to strengthen your message and make a bigger impact.
Let’s talk about branding
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” That’s a quote by Jeff Bezos, best known for founding Amazon and, recently, flying very slightly into space for some reason. (Also another recent example of recent personal branding in action; the last few years have seen Jeff become a well-known public figure – even as one of the richest men in the world, he kept a relatively low profile until recently.)
The quote is spot on. Branding is essentially an ongoing conversation that you can affect – perhaps even shape – but never completely control. That does not make us powerless, however.
As professionals, how can we distinguish ourselves from other brands? By looking at personal branding and leveraging it when appropriate. Personal branding is the process of intentionally creating and influencing the public perception of an individual.
In fact, 92% of consumers trust the word of an individual over that of a brand, according to Nielsen. You therefore have more chance of winning customer trust if you bond with them as an individual before building brand reputation.
Putting it another way: by showing that not only is your brand the best solution to your customer’s problem, but it’s backed by real, approachable people who speak the same language.
Personal branding at an individual level
Let’s be clear: using personal branding at an individual level within your business does not mean producing an army of automatons who mindlessly parrot corporate buzzspeak and jargon. This is about allowing each person to shine as themselves, and incorporating that into your brand as part of its inherent strength.
Hence the first step:
1. Be yourself
What makes you stand apart? What skills do you offer as part of your business, both within your role and outside of it? Those are the things you can share with the world.
2. Choose & develop your platform/s
How you want to reach your target audience depends partly on preference and partly on viability. If none of your ideal customers tend to operate on Instagram, your efforts might to go to waste. A little research and consideration will allow you to find your niche. This is where your thorough and targeted social media strategy comes in to play – vital for any brand seeking to cut through the noise online. Don’t have one? No problem. We can help.
3. Inspire, educate, entertain
The kind of content you want to create and how you share your thoughts and knowledge with the world is up to you. To be clear though, this doesn’t necessarily have to be some grand undertaking. Even on LinkedIn – the most “professional” and “serious” of social networks – fun anecdotes and interesting posts written in a casual style gain traction.
Inspire, educate, entertain. If you’re doing at least one of those three things, you’re producing great content, whether it’s a thread of tweets or fully formed video replete with animation and voiceover.
4. Be realistic – setting priorities
In case this all sounds rather daunting, relax. You don’t have to post every day. Consistency is helpful but not absolutely vital. Communities are built slowly over time. When you haven’t got the space to put something out there, focus instead on other ways. Commenting on other people’s posts and sharing content is still a proactive step and gives back to those following you.
We need to talk about messaging
Let’s take a step back for a second. This blog is focusing on why it’s worth talking more to your audience and the means by which you can do so. But how exactly should you talk? What’s appropriate for your brand and what’s not?
That’s where your brand messaging comes in. To begin, you would create a messaging deck. This is a simple document, written in plain-speaking language, that outlines what your brand believes and how they speak about themselves. Be warned: creating these is trickier than it appears, and you should, ideally, seek the help of an outside party who specialises in such a thing.
A messaging deck whittles down your brand’s identity into its most fundamental pillars. At the end, you have a one-page document that can be used as the foundation for everything you do, including advertising, social media, PR, and personal communications on behalf of your brand.
All that from one document. Trust us – it’s worth doing.
So, what are the benefits of bringing these personal branding lessons through to every aspect of your business? Here’s our top three:
1. Develops value and trust with real people. In the short-term, this makes your current clients feel more valued and happier with their investment in your brand. In the long-term, it’s likely to bring even more customers through the door.
2. Stand out from the crowd. Everyone wants to have the glitziest website and distinctive style. That might people in but doesn’t keep them coming back. Utilising personal branding sets you apart from competitors in a way they can’t replicate.
3. Creation of a community full of like-minded people. Over time, you’ll gradually create “brand advocates”, customers who effectively sell on your behalf. Why? Because they believe in what you’re doing in the same way that you do.
Personal branding isn’t just for the big CEOs with their huge net worths and a wide-reaching media presence. The lessons can run through every aspect of your brand, making it more appealing and approachable to everyone. If you ever want to discuss ways in which your business can reach even further, just contact us. We’re ready to help.