To add value to your business
Written by Sophie Richardson
You’ve probably heard the term ‘personal brand’ a lot. It’s also likely first interpretations of it hold some association to social media influencers, or being ‘Instagram famous’. While true, the power of a personal brand extends beyond these singular vocations and should be implemented into every business’s marketing strategy.
Think of a personal brand as an advocate for you: an embodiment of your beliefs, your expertise, your values. All activity needs to be tailored towards this, ensuring you are consistently projecting the desired brand image. This in turn is going to add value to your business.
Of course all of the above means that a personal brand should be differentiated and reflect you, your attitude, and the image you want to project (obviously, it is personal after all). But the basis of a strong personal brand also lies within its ability to be authentic, authoritative and compelling.
The creation of an authentic personal brand is incredibly valuable for your business. Put it like this: you wouldn’t want to spend time with someone that comes across as disingenuous or fake. The same applies here. An inauthentic brand will create difficulty in building trust with potential customers.
It is your messaging and communication that lays at the core of building an authentic personal brand. This includes demonstrating transparency with both customers and employees and being as honest as you are able. Sometimes this might be difficult. Take COVID-19 for example if, as an employer, you had to request staff to take a pay reduction. While this is no doubt an incredibly difficult situation the key is direct, open and honest communication. Be a real person. Show genuine empathy and vulnerability. Authentic communication is fundamental to building trust.
Another means of demonstrating authentic messaging is through exposing vulnerability and flaws. So many people make the mistake of thinking that people will only appreciate a brand if it is “perfect” and completely without blemish. Believe it or not, having flaws and weaknesses is a good thing because this makes you authentic, relatable - and hence, likeable. Obviously, there are boundaries to this, and yes, downright inappropriate or offensive comments will absolutely damage your personal brand. What I mean by ‘flaws’ and ‘weaknesses’ are mistakes and small, genuine errors of judgement you have made and are willing to share with the audience, something that shows you are human, and you are real. Maybe you’re a momtrepreneur, and you share with your audience that sometimes you just need a night off from the kids. People get this and can relate to it.
The old saying goes, “People connect with people”. So be a person, not a robot.
Building a strong personal brand is also dependent on being an authoritative source. This means regularly showcasing expert industry knowledge and offering advice or comments on topics of relevance through external platforms such as newspapers and blogs. It also means offering new perspectives to re-position as a leader of the conversation. Presenting yourself as the go-to person within your niche will not only boost credibility but will instil both confidence and trust in consumers.
Getting seen in mainstream media is another article entirely, but I’ll give a quick overview. Of course, you can choose to get into external publications through buying advertisements, and it can be effective for ensuring visibility with the right audience and within credible outlets.
However, there’s another option: earned media coverage.
In its most basic form, earned media coverage is any mention within a media outlet that you receive without paying for it. It can be an effective means of showcasing authority within the industry because it essentially says: “This credible journalist and leading publication find myself and my brand to be both interesting and trustworthy”. Think of it as a testimonial. The credibility it evokes means your audience is more likely to trust your brand, and position you as an industry leader.
Finally, your personal brand needs to be compelling. This goes beyond just the quality of content and insights offered; it’s also about you as an individual. Being likeable and approachable. Use all communication as a means of showcasing your personality, whether it’s through informal, chatty blog posts with colloquial quirks specific to you, or through a friendly demeanour demonstrated in interviews with the media.
This also means varying content on social platforms so it is not solely promotional, but also covers topics of interest to you. Hobbies, opinions, even reposting memes that gave you a giggle. Most people don’t want to be bombarded with professional advice in their personal social media feeds - excluding LinkedIn, of course. They want to see beyond the brand, they want to feel as if they know you as a person.
Let people get to know you, not just your business.
Building a personal brand Building a personal brand