Want to build a dynamic personal brand, but don't know where to begin? Eager to create buzz around your business, build authority, and design a brand strategy that builds momentum fast?
You can! Whether you want to develop, update, or level up your online brand - this step-by-step process is the place to begin. You’ll discover how each element (when you work them) creates a personal brand that doubles your audience, leads, traffic, and sales. And for those that don't have time to read, grab the TL;DR Infographic to pin and save.
1. Know your “code”
It might seem strange that I'd start with a word like code. I mean, what is it really? Some secret word that unlocks a "brand in a box" strategy? Nope, sorry. Nothing as cool as that. But it is an incredibly important aspect of defining your personal brand.
Let me tell you why: Your code is what you subconsciously or consciously live by. It’s the driving force behind all that you do. Your code aligns with your core values. It's the one thing that's been prevalent in your life and business, helping you CRUSH any outside negative forces.
That code is what keeps you on track, acting as your moral compass. But more than that, it's your commitment to yourself.
As you've grown, it's grown with you, helping you shape and design your best self. Through it, you've set the goals you want to achieve, defined your version of success, and intentionally nurtured your mindset. But what happens when your code is out of alignment with your words or actions?
Here's what that could be for you:
- You say yes when you KNOW you should say no… and no when you want to say YES.
- You tell yourself you’ll get up at 5am and then hit the snooze button 3,4,5 times.
- You say you are going to exercise 5 times a week and only do it twice because you're tired.
- You plan on writing 2 new blog posts per week, but barely get one out a month.
- You tell a client you'll get that project to them on Tuesday and then don't start on it until Wednesday.
Living out of alignment with your code (an embodiment of your values, vision, passion and purpose) causes tension in your life and business. And when you feel the tension, your clients, fans, and followers feel it as well. If you want to establish a strong personal brand, you need to bake trust into everything you do.
The only way to do that is to stand firm in your beliefs and share those without reservation. It's when you step outside of that (doing or saying something that doesn't feel true to you), that you create internal and external conflict.
2. Define your core values
Like it or not, your beliefs are what drive your core values. That means the lens in which you see the world is how you communicate your values. They’re the internal beliefs that dictate your life and create a strong business foundation.
According to Wikipedia, they’re the...
“Fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. They help people to know what is right from wrong; they can help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their business goals; and they create an unwavering and unchanging guide.”
When you see it from that perspective, sharing what you value most shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Let's take a look at what that might look like. Let’s say you value reliability in your life.
In your business, that would translate into a commitment of always saying what you do and doing what you say. If you’ve yet to sit down and define your core values, it doesn’t have to be complicated. After all, you’ve lived with them your whole life.
Below are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing, and if you need more help - here’s a HUGE list of 500 examples.
Once you’ve gone your own soul searching and reflected on that list, write down 3 that speak to you the most. Now weave those into the very essence of your brand. They’ll be seen and felt in every article, post, and tweet you share.
[Tweet "Your core values are seen & felt in every article, post, and tweet you share. Get to know yours!"]
Example of core values:
3. Speak to an audience of one
Have you ever read a social media post that felt it was written just for you? It’s as if they reached into your world, overheard a conversation, and provided the exact solution. That’s what knowing your audience does for your brand and business. It infuses life into your content and communication. It allows you to empathize, but not in a trite, “I feel ya” kinda way. It's serving up exactly what they're looking for.
To do that, you need to answer a few questions:
- Who do you serve? (who's your audience)
- What are they struggling with? (want to do, solve, fix, or get more of in their life or business)
- Why should they care? (about you, your product, or service)
For example, if you're a health and fitness coach, the person you're looking to connect with might be:
- A 35 - 45 year old married career women with 2 teenage kids, 1 dog, 2 cats, and a deep desire to focus on her own health.
Once you know who that person is, take a look at your content. Are you speaking to her, writing to her, creating for her? All of a sudden, everything will feel far more authentic.
Kind of like talking with a friend as opposed to shouting out a window to a neighbor you don’t know. Pretty weird, right?
That's what speaking to an audience of one can do for your business and brand.
4. Establish a brand that mirrors your values
Your branding is something that will flow from your website, to your blog, social media, and more. It makes you instantly recognizable and creates a distinct point of separation between you and the competition. If you haven't taken the time to design your brand, here's a few steps to take.
Your style is a combination of each ingredient that makes up your brand. It allows you to express your personality and define your style within the marketplace. If you're happy, then this is the place to let that shine. If you're somber, melancholy, or serious -- let that come across in your brand style. Think about your favorite brands. What about them makes them stick out? One of my favorite brands to follow is GoPro. Their use of User Generated Content is instantly recognizable.
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Your style is also portrayed through the consistent use of your logos, brand name, trademarks, communication, core visual elements, advertisements, signs, brochures, and presentations. Think of it as all of your brand goodness fused into a likable, shareable, and highly contagious brand that your community can’t get enough of.
Your brand identity should never be compromised. What do I mean by that? Think about how inconsistency hurts you. For example, if your logo and brand colors are one thing on your website, another on your blog and something completely different on your social networks - your audience is going to have a difficult time understanding who you are, what you do, and how you help. Sitting down and putting your brand details into an easy-to-read doc makes sure everything is streamlined.
This one piece can dramatically change all of your online copy. I promise you - if you get nothing else out of this article, nailing down your messaging is HUGE. One critical aspect of this is how you respond to that all too often uncomfortable question, "what do you do?" Instead of silence, put together a quick, but super specific way of expressing who you help and how.
Here's a few simple questions to help you craft what will become copy for your website About page, social media bios, and more.
1. What do you love to do? For example, you love to help people lose weight, eat healthy, house train their new puppies, or better manage their money.
2. Who do you love to help? For example, you help couples looking to get healthy or people who want to create an exercise regimen, or maybe wine drinkers or those that love dance.
3. What does your personal brand promise to do? What will people achieve through you / think about what they’ll be able to do better, more of, or walk away with after working with you? For example, they become a great tennis player or work more fruit or healthy foods into their diet or finally get their finances under control. Again, be as specific as you can.
Your Main Colors
To be remembered, you must make an impact. Your colors - the dominant, secondary and tertiary colors - help you create an indelible mark in the mind of your audience. If you haven’t chosen your brand colors yet, here's a few tools you can use to pick the perfect color palette.
- Use an online color picker. I like Colordot.
- Upload your image to imagecolorpicker.
- Download a Chrome or Firefox extension like ColorZilla to find colors you like online.
5. Build buzz, gain publicity, and become known in your industry
To maximize your personal brand and become known in your industry, you need to create a diverse strategy. This will incorporate various online tools to quickly accelerate conversation, buzz, and word of mouth.
Step 1: Create a Personal Brand About/Press Page
One of the biggest must-have steps in building your personal brand is creating an About or Press page. By incorporating this into your marketing mix, you’re letting your target market (and the media) learn more about you and keep up-to-date with your brand. The first step is deciding what you’ll share on your About or Press page.
For your About, give all relevant details about your education, work, and personal history. For your Press page, it should share press releases, a media kit, company news, and media coverage. If you’re not sure, ask yourself:
- Who do I want to see my page?
- Is it potential customers, journalists, Google?
Now write with them in mind. And don’t forget to optimize your pages for SEO. This is your extra chance to get found on Google, so make sure you use your industry keywords.
Step 2: Launch Your Social Media Brand Strategy
Launching your brand across social media can feel overwhelming. It can also be terrifying if you haven’t put a plan in place. In this step, I’m going to walk you through a 4- step process I’ve taken thousands of clients through. It’s called PREP and with this proven process, you can launch your personal brand social media strategy without worry, stress, or headache.
Join me over in the PREP Community to learn more.
Step 3: Hack Your Hashtags
Hashtags are one of the best ways to reach a completely new audience and get the word out about your personal brand. Research to find hashtags relevant to your industry. Look for both: the general trending hashtags, and the lesser-known, but more specific ones. The trending hashtags will help you reach a large or broad audience, while the specific (and targeted) ones will help you connect with people more likely to be interested in what you’re offering.
For example, #socialmedia is broad and while it might be a very active hashtag, you could also get lost in the barrage of content. A more targeted hashtag like #facebooktips places you in front of the exact people looking for Facebook content.
And if you run a local business, make sure you also use location-specific hashtags. Since I'm in the Los Angeles area, I often use #mydayinla or #ILoveLA.
Once you’re done with research, start using the hashtags in your social media posts. But remember to only use the ones that best align with your business.
By using trending hashtags that have nothing to do with you, you attract an audience you don’t want - or need. Sure, you may get a lot of visibility, but no real sales.
You might not be a big brand like Coke or Nike, but you can still build a brand worth listening to in your industry. And don't lose another day worrying about how to get started.
Take a cue from Arthur Ashe, and “start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can.” I promise you won’t regret it. Which of these tips will you implement today? Don’t let the fear of not being ready, having everything you need, or getting 100% prepared to keep you from building your personal brand.
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About Rebekah Radice
Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.