If there was ever a time to focus on your branding, the time is now. As a blogger, entrepreneur, or influencer, your brand is more than just a pretty logo; it is an extension of you. It is how your audience or customer experiences your business. From social media, to your website, to the package they receive in the mail, to the service you provide them, your audience is forming stories and emotions based on their experience with you.
As a new influencer, I quickly learned that developing my brand was one of the first parts of my business I should focus on. A strong personal brand is one of the best ways to connect with your audience, build relationships, earn trust, and ultimately turn your audience into paying customers.
Now let's be honest for a second. There are a ton of people out there doing what you're doing. Some came before you, and there will be those that come behind you. We've seen few "original" ideas circulating the social media world, but there is only one you as cliche as it is. A strong personal brand helps you stand apart from the crowd and shine a light on your value.
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is essentially how your audience perceives you. It is the image you create for yourself online and offline to help people remember you. Your personal brand speaks to what you are doing, who you are, and how it affects your influence.
Why is a Personal Brand Important?
We all have a personal brand, whether we have thought about it or not. And what our audience says about us rather than what we say about ourselves, tends to have the most significant impact. Therefore, it is so crucial that who we are is communicated clearly and concisely.
You could be the most talented and insightful person at something, and it wouldn't matter if you didn't have a personal brand that reflects it. Imagine a person who is selling graphic design services. You go their Instagram/website, their work is of low quality, and they are unreliable. Would you hire them? Likely no. We need to make sure that our personal brand is just as amazing as the quality of work we create.
How Do I Put This Into Action?
If you're like me, you're probably saying, "I've heard these definitions before, but now how do I even start applying this?" If you take a step back and evaluate your day to day life, there are tons of things your friends think when they think of you. "She loves…" She hates…" She's always talking about…" She's always doing...:"
By showing up online as yourself, your audience will start to notice these patterns too. Don't be afraid to share the things you love/hate over and over. When you speak (or write), allow your personality to come through. It's tough at first, and you may even cringe at the sound of your voice, but I promise you, if you stay consistent and remain authentic, it will get easier.
I am still a newbie to the blogger/influencer world, but I have learned a few lessons along my journey that have helped me build my personal brand. I'm sharing those with you today.
Photography // Ali Foster
Your mission statement should state who you are as a brand and identify your purpose. This takes time and should not be taken lightly. Ultimately, every piece of content you create should align with the mission that you've stated for your brand. It's much harder to be effective and measure success, if you don't know your purpose or what you stand for.
Define Your Audience
I'm sure you have heard this one before, but it hits home when discussing personal branding. "Appeal to everyone, and you'll appeal to no one." Deep down, I'm sure that we want everyone to like us, but when you are indeed yourself, there will inevitably be those who do not...and that is OK! This makes more room for you to hone in and speak directly to your people.
There are apps and tools that you can use to help you determine the gender, age, location, and household income of your audience. Try to get as specific as possible. When you know what your mission is and you've identified who your audience is, your voice becomes more precise, and your message is more effective.
Aesthetic and Imagery
You've got your mission, and you know who your audience is. Now its time to grab their attention and allow them to hear it. Like it or not, appearances are important. We are inundated with content throughout a single day, and subpar visuals are an easy way for people to pass you by. No, a strong brand is NOT just about beautiful visuals, but it has its place.
It has taken me some time to grasp my brand's aesthetic, and it continues to be a work in progress. I have learned that just because something works for someone else does not mean it will work for you. I love neutrals. Most things in my wardrobe and in my house are white, black, gray, or tan. I also prefer natural wood and golds over florals and bright colors. So naturally, that is what I want my aesthetic to reflect. I worked with a designer to have a brand board created, and I use it as a reference for when creating content to keep my brand visuals consistent.
Share Your Story
Your brand story and messaging allow your audience to relate to you and connect with you on a deeper level. We touched on this before, but there is only one you. The easiest way for you to stand out from the crowd is to be your authentic self and tell your story.
People are attracted to the person, not the brand. You can have a clear, well laid out vision and plan, but it makes it difficult for your audience to connect without the story. As much as you may tell yourself that nothing is exciting about you and that no one wants to hear your story, you're wrong. Embrace it and find a way to share it through the content you produce. Your story is your superpower.
Be patient with yourself as you grow your brand. Whether you're just starting or re-evaluating your brand, be authentic in what you share, have a clear purpose, and consistently show up!