The internet is a packed, noisy place. From startups to behemoth eCommerce brands, from mom-and-pop-shops to Fortune 500 companies, from bloggers to affiliate marketers, everyone is jostling for attention. Only through smart personal branding can you stand out from the competition and get noticed.
Thanks to the internet and supersonic technological advancements anyone anywhere can make money online.
Yes, you too.
Not only can you supplement your regular income through a lucrative side hustle but you can also make six figures from the comfort of your home.
Armed only with a laptop, an internet connection, a solid idea, and plenty of gumption, you can build a global personal brand.
By the end of 2020 global eCommerce sales reached a mouth-watering $4,2 billion. With online shopping becoming more popular as shoppers get more comfortable shopping on mobile devices online commerce sales will balloon to $6,54 billion by 2023.
That’s a tremendous opportunity for solo entrepreneurs and online fortune hunters.
I’m sure you also want some. 😀
But with everyone jostling for a piece of the cake, the competition is fierce. Gaining attention online has become tougher than ever.
That’s where personal branding comes in to save the day. This in-depth guide will teach you everything you need to know about personal branding so you position your company favorably, get noticed, and win business despite the stiff competition.
Let’s jump right in.
What Is Personal Branding?
Personal branding is the deliberate effort to create, shape, and manage public perception of a person and what they stand for. It’s an ongoing process that seeks to position the individual as an industry authority, boost their credibility, and differentiate them from the competition.
Ultimately, smart personal branding gives you a competitive edge, increases your influence and earnings on the market because of the positive impression people have about you.
The word ‘brand’ originated from an old English word that means ‘mark with a hot iron’. So your brand is the mark or impression you leave in people’s minds after they interact with you and your business.
Brand Identity Basics
Now that you know what personal branding is, let’s go over the essentials. Your brand identity includes these 5 crucial elements.
A logo is a symbol or mark that identifies a unique business entity. A superb logo grabs attention and helps people to understand what a business does or represents fast.
There are four main types of logos:
Wordmark or Logotype
A wordmark is a text-only logo. A famous company that uses a wordmark is Google. It’s a great fit if your company has a short name.
A monogram is a 1 to 3 letter logo. For a celebrated monogram logo, see the HP one below. If you use your name as the company name, a monogram is perfect as it allows you to use your initials as the logo.
A brandmark logo is an icon or picture logo. Apple is a renowned brand that uses a brandmark logo. Using a brandmark when nobody knows about you is risky because you are not a recognized brand yet.
As the name implies, a combination logo merges a wordmark, monogram, and brandmark into one logo. Doritos uses a combination logo. Combination logos work well because they allow you to combine pictures and words to convey your message.
When you are starting, you may be tempted to spend a lot of time and financial resources crafting the perfect logo. Don’t get hung up on your logo. Just come up with something simple and affordable in the beginning. You can always change it later when your brand identity has crystallized.
After you’ve crafted your logo, work on your tagline.
A tagline is a punchy catchphrase or slogan that conveys the value you provide. Your tagline supports your logo in describing the essence of your brand. It also acts as a differentiation factor by capturing your unique value. For inspiration on how to craft a sticky tagline, consider these case studies:
Want to create a powerful tagline that grabs eyeballs fast? Then pay attention to these elements of an unforgettable slogan.
Make sure your slogan is plain so people don’t have to crack their heads to understand it. Complex slogans go over your audience’s head and leave them bewildered. For an instant connection, keep things simple because simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Your tagline mustn’t be winding. A lengthy statement shows muddled thinking and increases the possibility of being ambiguous. Besides, long statements take longer to read. Instead, wrap your slogan around a pithy statement of eight words or fewer.
For you to attract potential customers, you must convince them you are unique. Show them you represent something new on the market they can’t get elsewhere. Let your uniqueness shine through your tagline so prospects see your difference straightaway.
When creating a tagline for your brand, it’s easy to focus on rhymes and a clever play on words. That’s not the focal point. Align your tagline to your business goals and the target market. Ruthlessly cut off anything that may sound sweet but doesn’t line up with your core values and direction.
Besides your logo and tagline, there’s something else that affects people subtly—your brand colors.
3. Color Schemes
Colors are powerful.
They make a deep psychological impact on us. Color influences our behavior more than we realize or care to admit. For instance, did you know that up to 93% of consumers consider mostly visual factors when making purchase decisions? Color also increases brand recognition by 80%.
Source: Creative Market
In short, let’s just say colors say a lot about your business, so use them wisely. To get you thinking about your brand colors, here are 7 colors and their meaning.
Limit your colors to one or two for clarity. Having too many brand colors confuses your audience.
4. Mission Statement
A mission statement is a succinct description that sums up the purpose, values, and goals of your brand. Like the tagline, your mission statement helps distinguish your brand from the countless companies out there.
Here are some quick tips on coming with a brilliant mission statement:
To prime your creativity pump as you craft your mission statement, here are three examples of inspirational vision statements.
First up is Ann Handley.
Oprah’s excellent statement focuses on what she does “teacher” and how it benefits her target market “be more than they thought they could be.”
Lastly, let’s look at JetBlue’s mission statement.
Yes, JetBlue isn’t a personal brand, but its vision statement is exceptional. It’s a perfect example of an audience-centered mission statement laden with benefits while still communicating company values in one stroke.
Your mission statement announces to the world why your company exists, your voice and style are how you say it.
5. Voice & Style
Brand voice and style is how you come across when you communicate.
Your values and mission are the substance of your brand—your brand voice and style are the sizzle. Your logo, tagline, goals, and mission make up the base of your brand pizza, voice and style are the scrumptious toppings.
No matter how marvelous your mission and products are, without an appealing voice, you will struggle to attract customers. Look at the chart below that shows four brand voices your brand can adopt: passionate, quirky, irreverent, and authentic.
For your brand voice to stick, it must permeate everything you do. Who you are and whom you serve determines your voice. Be comfortable in your skin. Use an authentic voice that makes sense to you and your target audience in a business context.
It’s time to raise your voice. Your tribe or best potential clients are eagerly waiting to hear it and come running.
4 Benefits Of A Personal Brand
Let me remind you of a popular business mantra: People do business with people they know, love, and trust.
That’s exactly why a personal brand is powerful. Because people do business with people, not faceless corporations. Even in vast organizations, there are faces of the brand who are instantly recognizable. Their audience connects with the brand through them.
Here are 4 benefits of a personal brand.
1. Boosts Your Company’s Credibility
Personal brands exude warmth, intimacy, and authenticity.
Unlike massive operations that seem fake, personal brands appear more authentic. Whether it’s because of being familiar with one person they deal with often or getting personal attention, people love the credibility of personal brands.
2. Increases Brand Visibility
A well-optimized online personal brand boosts your business’s visibility. When people Google services or products related to what you do, your brand turns up. Since most product searches start with a Google search, your customers can only increase. But it’s a double-edged sword. Because you are the brand, any slip-ups morally or otherwise will mar your brand’s reputation.
3. Helps You Stand Out From Competitors
Humans are distinct.
Of the 7,874,965,825 people alive on the globe today, nobody looks like you or has your exact personality. So if you package your brand correctly around your identity, you will be a unique brand.
Special. Ravishing. Unrivaled.
As long as you stay true to your identity, your brand will have an aura of va-va-voom nobody can challenge.
4. Attract Your Ideal Customers
No appeals to everyone.
Too many entrepreneurs use a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. They try to make everyone their customer. If you aim to persuade everyone to become your customer, you won’t reach anyone. Your message will be too generic, lifeless, powerless. On the flip side, if you go after a particular slice of the market with people who share the same values as you, your message will resonate. They will buy from you and follow you everywhere.
5 Pillars To Building A Powerful Brand
Building a powerful, renowned brand takes time and tact. You must get your foundation right. Below are the foundation blocks for creating a powerful brand.
1. Choose A Lucrative Niche
For you to have a successful business you must boss a particular segment of the market or niche as it’s popularly known. Zeroing in on a niche that’s suitable for you and your mission makes it easier for you to:
In a word, picking a niche helps with product-market fit and gives you the best chance of success.
2. Define Your Goals And The Value You Provide
You started a business because you wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, not just to make money, right?
Articulate your goals. Describe the unique value you bring on the market succinctly, Having clarity about these things will inform your message.
That’s the essence.
Use this simple template to nail everything:
I am a(n) x [who you are] and I help y [the target audience] achieve z [the problem you solve].
3. Define Your Target Audience
In the previous step, we mentioned your target audience. Let’s unpack that some more. Realize your target audience isn’t just a bunch of people you choose to promote your products or services to.
They are a specific group of people, with specific needs, specific attributes.
A crucial part of your branding groundwork is to understand your potential customers’ shared characteristics. We call this a customer avatar, aka buyer persona. You may have the most remarkable product on the planet, but if you are trying to sell it to the wrong person, you will never succeed.
Your customer avatar must include:
Source: CB Insights
Companies used to rely mostly on demographics to target consumers, but now psychographics is gaining more prominence. Psychographic profiles are more valuable than demographics because they unearth a person’s emotional triggers. Why people do what they do. So marketers can tell:
Using the power of psychographics insights, you can craft super relevant marketing messages that scratch your audience’s itches and win them over easily.
To make the whole thing fun and easy to remember, give your ideal customers nicknames that fit their identity and behavior as seen below.
Get clear about who you are selling to.
Your branding and marketing efforts will have a laser-sharp focus and resonate in the hearts of your potential customers.
3. Leverage The Power Of Storytelling
Nothing tags the human heart better than a story.
According to a marketing professor at Stanford School Of Business, a story is 22x more memorable than dry facts alone. Other studies claim stories light up the brain and drive action, sweet music to the ears of a marketer.
Thriving brands know how to tell heart-warming stories.
Here’s a crash course in how to tell delightful brand stories.
4. Deliver A Consistent Message
Consistency is key in branding.
Consistency keeps you top of mind so whenever people think about products or services related to what you sell. You always pop up first in their minds. Be consistent in four critical areas:
To keep your audience glued to your brand, get the content cadence right. Whether you publish posts once a week or twice a month, find the right frequency and stick to it so people know what to expect.
Stick to the same brand colors everywhere, in everything you do. Whether you are posting on Facebook, emailing, or designing a lead generation magnet, use the same colors.
Social Media Profiles
It’s also crucial to be consistent across different social media and marketing channels. Use the same photo on all social platforms for instant brand recognition. Also, use similar messaging.
Voice And Style
You must sound like the same person on all channels. People don’t enjoy interacting with a serious pro when reading your emails, only to meet quirky you on TikTok. It’s jarring. Be the same person throughout and your crowd will embrace you.
6 Common Mistakes In Personal Branding
Many brands slip up in personal branding. Here are some of the biggest mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not Nailing Down Your Customer Avatar
Marketing without a customer avatar to guide you is like a pilot flying a plane without a flight plan. You won’t arrive at your destination. Too many solopreneurs rush to sell their products without a clear understanding of who they are targeting.
The result? Utter failure.
2. Not Articulating Your Difference From The Beginning
Another common mistake personal brands make is being like everyone else on the market.
If you are like the brand next door, why should customers choose you? People follow unique brands, not copycats.
From the get-go, identify your differentiation element and hap on it.
3. Inconsistency In Content Creation And Messaging
The fastest way to frustrate your audience is by being erratic.
Whatever you do, be consistent. Research shows brand consistency boosts your bottom line by up to 33%.
Don’t fall into the trap of inconsistency or else you will shrink your income.
4. Mistaking Branding For A Popularity Contest
One more blunder brands make is equating branding with big numbers.
Business owners think the more random prospects they can reach, the faster their businesses will grow.
It’s not just about amassing large numbers of people. Rather, it’s about reaching the right people who suit your buyer persona that matters. Aim for targeted growth, not blanket growth.
5. Thinking You Can Build A Brand Overnight
Many people think building a respectable brand happens at the click of a finger.
You just create a lovely product, design a stunning website, and post a few Instagram posts, then boom—your brand takes off. Sorry, my friend. Not gonna happen. In the real world, a brand grows. So be patient. Your brand will soon emerge as long as you keep doing the right things consistently.
6. Focusing On Yourself Not Your Audience
A silent brand-killer ravaging many personal brands is self-centeredness.
All you discuss:
Your products. Your dreams. Your mission.
That’s a fatal mistake.
You won’t connect with people. Humans are selfish by nature. They are always asking: what’s in it for me (WIIFM). To lure them to pay attention to your brand initiatives, make it about them, not you.
Frame your campaigns with your audience at the center of it all. They will be hooked because they are a key part of your story.
The Secret Sauce Of Irresistible Brands
Sneaky companies can steal your logo, slogan, and brand colors. It happens all the time.
So what must you do?
Focus on the one thing nobody can steal from you—your personality. Think about it for a sec. There’s nobody like you on the entire planet. No one can steal you from you. All thriving personal brands ooze a distinct personality nobody can mimic.
Positioning coach Hillary Weiss’s irreverent style is unmistakable.
Source: Hillary Weiss
Whether it’s her dare-me look or the ‘let’s get loud and rich’ copy, her messaging and imagery are consistent.
Identify and embrace the personality you want to project in your business. It will surprise how easily people connect with your brand.