Personal branding is more important than you might think—and it’s definitely not just a trendy buzzword or an online fad. Your personal brand is essential to whatever business you’re currently in or want to pursue in the future. It doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur, content creator, influencer, or you’re on a more traditional career path, your personal brand is your business.
If you’re wondering if you really need a personal brand, or if you’re ready to have a personal brand, or if you can just use your business brand, or you’re just wondering what the hell a personal brand even is, keep reading because this post is for you.
Whether you like it or not, people are forming an impression of you based on what they see in person and online. When personal branding is done the right way, your personal brand can be one of your greatest assets. A strong personal brand helps you attract your ideal target audience and dream clients, grow and scale your business, (or use it to start one if you don’t have one), and really stand out from the competition.
No matter what you’re doing today or ever plan to be doing, you are currently trading on your name and it’s affecting the money you make and will make, the audience and the network you have and will attract, and the opportunities you’re getting and will get.
I know personal branding can seem like an abstract concept, which is why I’m going to define and demystify it for you: what personal branding is, why it’s important, and how to get started.
Personal Branding: What It Is and Why It’s Important
What is a personal brand?
Here’s the truth: You already have a personal brand. Right now, today. You have a personal brand whether you realize it or not. At the most high-level definition, your personal brand is your name, it’s your resume, it’s your reputation, it’s your first impression, and it’s what people think and feel about you when they hear your name, when you leave a room, and when they find you online. (And side note, if they can’t find you online, that also says something!)
Your personal brand is you: the unique combination of your skills and experiences, your interactions with others, and any and everything that is associated with your name.
To demystify personal branding even more, here is my definition of an effective personal brand: A CLEAR, authentic, and consistent presence that serves, attracts, and cultivates a dedicated community.
Why is personal branding important?
If we’ve learned anything recently, it’s that you need to be able to adapt and stay relevant in difficult times, and your personal brand is the key to doing that.
People WILL search for you online and make decisions based on what they find.
When was the last time you met someone new and didn’t look them up online, or the last time you bought something without reading reviews?
Personal branding is no longer optional, it’s necessary.
People WILL search for you online, look through your social media, and make decisions based on what they find (and what they don’t find). This was the case before the pandemic, but it’s even more true (and important) now—no matter what business you’re in or want to be in. And your personal brand is critical to your target audience’s ability to find you and recognize you’re the person they need.
It isn’t only for certain types of businesses—it doesn’t matter if you’re a coach, consultant, content creator, or you have a product-based business, and it doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert, ambivert, or introvert. Focusing on your personal brand is important now, no matter what level of business you’re in, whether you’ve just started a side hustle, are a solopreneur, or if you already have a full-scale team. It doesn’t depend on your follower count or if you think your market is too saturated.
Everyone needs to be building their personal brand. Personal branding is not abut becoming an internet personality; even the “average person” needs to take care of their online reputation.
Your personal brand is your insurance policy.
Your personal brand can be one of your greatest assets if you invest in it, or it can be a liability if you don’t take care of it. If you aren’t taking control of your personal brand, you’re leaving your reputation up to chance. Someone is going to be telling your story… and that someone should be you.
And the harsh reality is you need to be showing your work. As a business owner, you have to expect the unexpected. If you only build your business brand and no one knows the person behind the business, it puts you in this vulnerable position where if you do have to rebrand or pivot, you’re going to have to do more work retroactively to prove your value and educate people on what you’ve already accomplished, when you could have been proactively building a loyal community who’s ready and excited to pivot alongside you. You don’t want to have to re-establish your credibility and expertise with every change you make or bump in the road—because there will be bumps.
And if you’re in a more traditional role within an organization, your personal brand is a safety net to make sure you’re never without work. In this day and age, everyone is expendable. Your personal brand can help make you irreplaceable, and on the off chance you do end up needing to look for a new position, it will help you attract new opportunities and show you’re the right one for the job.
Your personal brand is key to building trust, establishing your credibility and expertise, and separating yourself from the competition.
Influence is ultimately about trust, and building your personal brand helps create that credibility and proof of your expertise—it’s how you develop thought leadership and become a recognized authority in your niche.
Your personal brand allows you to connect with your audience directly and separate yourself from the competition. Positioning yourself online and creating consistent content in your niche allows you to display your knowledge and personality. If your target audience already knows, likes, and trusts you as a person and as a business owner, it makes it that much easier for them to take the actions you want. Building your personal brand is how you can attract potential clients and customers that not only appreciate who you are and what you bring to the table, but already know they want to buy from you, no hard selling required.
Personal branding is how thought leaders stay relevant.
People want to do business with PEOPLE.
It’s a cliché because it’s the truth: people want to do business with people. Even though having a business brand is valuable—I don’t want to discount that—when it comes to community, the human element is much more powerful.
Think about when it comes to customer service—you want an actual human to help you. Or when it comes to whose content you want to consume, you might follow Sephora, but when you’re buying certain products or making a decision, it’s often because of someone’s review or a human you’ve been engaging with.
Think about the accounts you personally follow online and actually engage with: are they mostly traditional “brands” or people? My guess is for the most part they are people. We want human connection and we buy based on emotion, and at the end of the day, brands just don’t move us like individuals do—plain and simple.
Your personal brand opens the door to dream opportunities (as well as the ones you didn’t know existed).
One of the beautiful aspects of personal branding is that it not only allows you to connect with your ideal audience that grows your brand and business, but also helps you attract the attention of the decision makers who can open doors to bigger opportunities for you. Whether you’re interested in speaking on stage, being invited to guest post on a major platform, becoming a New York Times bestselling author, or landing brand deals and partnerships, personal branding is the gateway to achieving those goals.
So… why leave your personal brand up to chance?
Since you now know why personal branding is so important, ask yourself this question: Who’s telling the story around your brand and your business? If the answer’s not you, it should be. Let’s talk about how to start taking control of your future through personal branding.
How To Build Your Personal Brand
Do not wait until you’re “ready”
As we covered, you already have a personal brand and you should be the one in control of your story. If you wait until you’re “ready,” you’ll never take action. Now is the time. Don’t be afraid of being locked into one thing or getting stuck on wherever you are right now. There’s no such thing as a perfect personal brand, and yours can and will evolve with you, so don’t let that fear be a roadblock.
Start where you are
The essential first step to attracting your ideal audience and dream opportunities is evaluating where your personal brand stands today so you can take the right steps tomorrow.
To create an effective personal branding strategy, you need to know where you are right now and where you want to go. Start by using various search engines to assess what’s currently out there about you. Does what you find reflect the messaging you want to get across?
(If you’d like more specific questions to help you see where you currently are with your personal brand, check out my personal brand audit, which walks you through the steps to identify your current online brand positioning, how cohesive and consistent your messaging is across platforms, what needs to be updated to improve your personal brand, and more!)
Get specific about your goals
One of the most important questions to ask yourself is “What do you want your personal brand to do for you?” Personal branding is actually very intentional and in order to focus your attention, it helps to set both short-term and long-term goals. Pick a specific personal brand goal you want to achieve in the next 90 days that will help you attract the right audience and opportunities that are relevant to you and your business. The best goals are going to be tangible and measurable (ie. quantifiable—such as “12 sales calls and 3 new clients a month”). Setting one-year and five-year goals as well is also helpful to help keep you on track moving forward.
Establish your messaging
Your goal with your personal brand is to be as clear as possible to your desired audience. Your want to be an obvious “yes!” to the right people and an obvious “no” to the wrong ones, which means knowing who your target audience actually is and why they should care. Being able to clearly articulate what you do and why it’s of value is going to be essential for personal branding success. Make sure your messaging is consistent across platforms. Importantly, this is about the substance of what you say, and not about your visual branding (like colors, fonts, etc). And side note: Don’t worry about getting this perfect because it will evolve and change as you start putting yourself out there.
Create content with a purpose
Top influencers and online thought leaders know that content creation is not random, it’s purposeful. The best content keeps your goals in mind, while also providing value to your specific audience. Always ask yourself, “Why am I posting this and who is it serving?”
Consistency is key
Consistency builds trust. It’s important to make sure you are consistent with your messaging across platforms, as well as when your audience can expect you to show up. Consistency does not mean you need to post on social media 24/7, but it does mean you should figure out how often you can comfortably show up without ghosting your audience (whether that’s once a week or daily, for example). Figure out what works for you and do your best to stick with it (and if you do fall off the wagon, just hop back on).
Engage with others on social media
If you are just getting started building your personal brand, you might not have an audience yet and that’s perfectly ok! If that’s the case, one of the easiest ways to grow is to engage with the people you want to have in your community so they become aware of you. Developing personal relationships will really help you serve your audience to the best of your ability. Make sure to set aside some time each week to leave comments and send DM’s to new folks you’d like to connect with, as well to go through comments left on your content and reply to DM’s in your inboxes.
When you see your favorite influencers online and believe that what they are doing is working, it’s tempting to try to mimic them. But really, one of the biggest reasons they’re successful is because they are showing up as themselves. If you take anything away from this, your voice does have value. And that’s going to differentiate you from your competition. People will be attracted to you for who you are. Embrace your personality and quirks.
Being authentically yourself is critical to maintaining consistency over the long term. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to sustain long-term efforts if you’re acting like someone else or trying to be liked by everyone. If you show up authentically, you’ll save yourself so much time in the long run because you’ll be attracting the right people for your brand and business who you’d genuinely enjoy working with and who would be the ideal community for you.
Don’t expect overnight success
Personal branding is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long-term game and you should treat it that way—you’re with your name for life. Try to resist comparing yourself to others in your space because you really don’t know the reality behind the scenes.
What you see as overnight success in the media, is almost always the result of years of sustained action and efforts behind the scenes. And just as often preceded by numerous failures. No one has the same exact goals or audience or resources. So take this as your sign not to waste time comparing your brand to anyone else’s.
What comes next?
My goal is to help you build a personal brand that’s an asset, and not a pain in your ass. I’m all about the path of least resistance when it comes to personal branding online so you can start getting the attention of the right audience that grows your brand and business without feeling overwhelmed by the rat race on other platforms, worrying about competitors, or having to spend all your time on social media and away from your business, and instead spend your time doing the things you actually want to be doing.
It’s never been easier to build a powerful (and profitable) personal brand online that’s authentic to you. If you want to learn more about my proven, step-by-step process to position yourself online with a clear message in an authentic way that attracts your ideal audience—whether you’re creating a personal brand from scratch or you have already developed your personal brand—click here to check out The Clarity Course, which is not only foundational, quick, and actionable, but something you can (and should) keep coming back to each quarter as your brand and business evolve.
For more on how to build a personal brand the right way…
- Recommended blog posts and Beyond Influential episodes on personal branding
- FREE Masterclass on 3 Secrets to Building a Profitable Personal Brand!
- The Clarity Course: This is the best (and first) place to start if you’re serious about building your personal brand the right way. It’s my proven, step-by-step process to position yourself online with a clear message in an authentic way that attracts your ideal audience—whether you’re creating a personal brand from scratch or have already started on your personal branding journey.