How to Create a Personal Brand

Woman at a desk next to a window working on a laptop.G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock

The idea of ​​a "personal brand" is getting a bad name these days, but it's an essential part of creating an online presence. Here's how to do it correctly.

In the era of Instagram influencers, the concept of "personal brand" could be more misunderstood than ever before. Some people think that the personal brand suggests a person who lacks authenticity in his or her daily or digital life.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. When it is well defined, a personal brand reflects your authentic personality in a way that translates online. So people who have never met you have an idea of ​​who you are.

In fact, you already have a personal brand. This is expressed in what you do, in the clothes you wear, in the art you love and in the way you live. The trick is to determine what your brand is and how to communicate it to other people. Here is what you need to know.

Who needs a personal brand?

Personal branding, as a concept, is not as new as you might think. Some will say that this has been around for as long as the modern business concept. There was a time when personality influenced people's buying decisions: you bought from people whose character you liked – or the brand.

But with the growth of the big companies, the "personal" part disappeared during a big part of the 20th century. The personal brand has never played a role in the purchase of Coca-Cola products or Dawn dish soap. However, the digital age has brought personality back into the makeup of our business.

Today, personal branding is essential for anyone who wants to use their online presence to advance their career. This can include artists, publishers, designers, teachers and many others. Once, customers would have entered your store or studio to get to know you. Today, they find you online and will probably never meet you in person. The personal brand replaces a personal appointment to show them what you are.

To decide if you need a personal brand, take a close look at how you use online spaces and where you plan to pursue a career. If you use social media solely for entertainment purposes and to keep in touch with your friends, you may not need a personal brand. But if you use social media to get new customers or connect with potential customers, you probably need them. If you are planning to start a business or become independent, you should also have a personal brand – it's never too early to start working on it.

What makes a good personal mark?

A woman sitting on a couch, speaking in the foreground like a camera, records a video for her vlog.G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock

Many people experience an aversion to the personal brand concept because they think it means to be wrong. However, the only thing that can make a successful personal brand is authenticity.

It is certainly possible to create an unauthorized brand based on what you think the masses like. However, it will be much more difficult for you to stick to something that is not based on your personality. Modern consumers generally know when they are marketed rather than connected. Creating an authentic brand can take a little more work, but the results are worth it.

How can you create your personal brand?

To say that your brand must be authentic is one thing, but how do you decide what is your authentic and convincing personal brand?

Your goal is to exploit your personality and the way you present it to the world, as well as how it is reflected in your online career. This means that you have to translate the elements that make you "you" colors, words and images. A personal brand gives you a unifying theme for your online presence.

Do not forget that your brand already exists. You just need to find out and define it. It is also made to be flexible. It should change and grow over time, while retaining some essential qualities just like you. Ideally, you can summarize it with a handful of descriptive words or a series of images. But to get to this point, you will have to show creative introspection. Here are some methods that work well.

Consult others

Have you ever felt that some people know you better than yourself? These are the people with whom you should talk about your personal brand.

Have a coffee with some of your closest friends, tell them that you are working on your personal brand and ask them what defines you. You can also interview your subscribers on social networks with questions such as: "What word would you use to describe me?"

Talk to as many people as you want, but keep in mind that the best answers will probably come from those who know you best. Try to get first impressions, like the first image that comes to your mind when they think of you. These quick intuitions will tell you what you are spreading around the world so you can capture that energy and translate it for your brand.

Make a mood board

The opinions of others can help guide the process, but defining your personal brand is essentially a lonely experience. Doing a mood chart (or more) is a great way to discover how to visualize yourself.

A mood chart is simply a collage of ideas around a central theme. You can create a physical using a bulletin board and magazine clippings (or any other element that you can paste on the board). You can also do a digital collage – Pinterest is ideal for that. Choose the medium that suits you best.

Young woman sitting on the floor, surrounded by a display board and a laptop.G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock

No one else needs to see your mood charts. If you use Pinterest, you may want to set your table as private. Enjoy the process and do not worry too much about the finished product.

We recommend that you let your first couple of mood boards form a collection of everything that resonates with you. Let them rest for a few days (or weeks). When revisiting the project, you will probably notice specific unifying themes. Maybe there are colors, images or recurring words. Use these elements to create new, more refined atmospheres, until you have an idea of ​​your brand.

Try a Word Cloud

Word clouds take words from a selection of text and organize them, telling you which words have been used most often. You can plug everything you've written into a word cloud generator to see which terms are most common. For example, try writing a professional biography about yourself (or sticking to the one you already have). See which words are the most important words in the cloud. These could guide you towards your brand.

If a digital word cloud is not exactly your style, you can tidy up a notebook in your pocket. Spend a few days (or weeks) writing words or thoughts that might fit your brand. Then come back and read what you wrote to inspire you.

Get specific

It can sometimes be useful to base this conceptual process in a specific way. Think about choosing a set of brand colors or creating a mantra or slogan. Perhaps there is a particular aesthetic that suits your brand, such as soft and feminine, or elegant and modern. You could even draw logo ideas.

As you define your brand, you can change these details as often as you like until they feel good. But working on concrete ideas can help you better understand your brand. It also makes it easier for you to present your brand to the world when the weather permits.

How to use your personal brand

As you brainstorm, moodboard and tweak, you'll find ideas that work for you.

When you can summarize your personal brand in a few sentences (think "summary in a few seconds "), It's ready. Here's what to do once you've reached this point.

Review your life online

Your personal brand is doing its best online. This gives people a clear idea of ​​who you are and what you do from the moment they search for your name on Google. To put your brand to good use, start with a comprehensive review of your online presence.

Make a list of each site or profile that belongs to you. This includes social media pages or personal websites. These are all information about you online that you have the power to change.

There may also be information that you can not change, such as mentions in online articles. Even if you can not change these things, it's good to be aware of them. By publishing new content that matches your brand, you hide everything you do not like.

Now, focus on the sites that you can update. Review your websites and personal profiles and determine how you will change each to reflect your brand.

Not all sites will need the same amount of work. For example, on LinkedIn, you can only update the "About" section. But on Instagram, you can decide to delete your old images and start over with images that reflect your brand. Do not forget that even sites that you use for personal purposes may require an update. If anyone can find it in an online search, this must reflect your brand.

What you change and how much you change depends entirely on you. However, your goal is that everything online reflects your personal brand as clearly as possible. If you have multiple websites or social media pages, this project will probably not be done in an afternoon. Take your time and break it down into easy-to-manage steps.

Review your life offline (professional)

This step should be a little easier. If you create a personal brand, it is likely that most of your professional life will take place online. However, it is always useful to take stock of the different ways to use it offline.

List all things physical or that could be marked. This may include business cards or other items that you distribute to potential customers. For example, if you describe your brand as "relaxed" and "nervous", it may be time to give up the traditional off-white business cards in favor of metal cards doubling a bottle opener.

Your offline brand can also extend to other things, such as the way you dress. Maybe the way you show up in meetings with customers might be more brand-focused. If you're a graphic designer working with startups, it may be time to trade out your formal outfits for casual outfits.

Also think about how you are going to talk about your brand. Even if you do not plan to network, there will be times when people will ask you what you do in life. Your brand will give you a good answer.

Review your brand

When it 's about developing a personal brand, many people make the mistake of thinking first of all about their audience rather than themselves.

It's true that all businesses need customers, but the best personal brands do not come from the question of how to sell to others. They come to understand you so well that you can show your trust and authenticity to your potential customers.

Once you have completed the above steps, all that remains is to keep your brand authentic and prosperous. You can do this by periodically revising it. Write down brand new ideas when they come to you. Do occasional searches on Google to make sure you like what you see and update your social media sites so that they continue to reflect your personality.

Creating a personal brand is a challenge. However, once you're done, it's easy to keep it up to date with these small, periodic changes. This can help your business prosper and attract new customers. But more importantly, it can give you a stronger sense of yourself and what you are capable of doing in your career.

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