BRANDING 101: A Roadmap & Strategy Guide to Personal Branding
First of all, What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand, or your personal brand is the culmination of your skills, knowledge, experiences and personality that come together to speak to the world about who you are. Your brand is what essentially attracts and retains customers.
Creating and developing yourself as a personal brand is similar to product branding. The overall goal with branding is to not only tell the world your story, but to differentiate yourself or your product in the market so you can reach your goals as a top influencer, brand, product or successful blogger.
Product or brand development is not always about creating something different, but about doing something differently.
We have created a roadmap for many of our clients and use it often for branding (or rebranding) purposes -and it’s nearly foolproof if you follow it correctly.
This one is intended for new brands who are looking to launch fresh, but you can also use it if you want to wipe the slate clean and totally rebrand.
This process is going to require a lot of thought and some research on your part. But I promise, it will be worth it. The more research and honesty you bring to the table, the better off you and your brand message will be.
The following questions will walk you through your thoughts, ideas, aspirations and images of your personal brand to assist you in clearly defining your brand and it’s personality.
A. PERSONAL BRANDING
- Define your goals. What are your personal and/or business aspirations?
(Be specific. Clearly define your goals and objectives whether it’s becoming a famous singer, motivational speaker, CEO of a major company or fashion blogger)
- Who do you aspire to emulate?
(i.e. Ariana Huffington, Oprah, SPANX, Zuckerberg, The Blonde Salad, etc.)
- What does your brand look like 1, 2 or 3 years from now?
Take a moment to really visualize all of the aspects of your brand and company. (I am a firm believer in visualization. You can’t create it if you can’t imagine it.)
- What is your brand tagline, message or three key words that define your brand?
(i.e. Fun, Colorful, Young; Informative, Smart, Tough; “Never Stop Creating”)
Before you can clearly define your personal brand goals and strategy, it is important to conduct thorough research so you can answer your own brand identity questions. This is a paramount step in creating your brand, and one that shouldn’t be skipped or skimmed over.
Research! Research! Research! Do your homework.
- What do your aspirational brands look like?
- What are your aspirational brands doing?
- What have they done to get to where they are now? (read their bio, research history)
- Are you willing to put in the work to succeed and do what they have done. (This is a VERY important question)
- Who are your 3-5 biggest competitors?
- What are they doing to brand themselves?
- What can you learn from what they’ve done (positive or negative)
C. WHAT'S THE STORY?
- What is the overall message you want your brand to convey?
- List 3 brand attributes (adjectives) associated with your brand.
- Where is your Brand niche in the market? Define this as precisely as you can.
(i.e. Yoga Wear in Women’s Plus Size Apparel, Writer of Motivational Books)
- Where is your Brand right now? How does your audience or the general public currently perceive you?
- How far off are you right now from where you want to be (or be perceived)? (If you are not sure, compare your answers from #1-A to this question.)
- Based on your current assessment and goals of question #6, what can you change?
D. ‘GO TO’ BRANDING STRATEGY PLAN
Now that you have your image and goals hammered out, it’s time to start implementing your brand.
Make sure your brand image and message across all social media platforms is cohesive. This means your social media accounts will be consistent and look the same. Consistency is key. Do a deep social media audit and make sure you include all of your social media outlets, from YouTube to Twitter, Facebook Fan page to LinkedIn, from Goodreads to your Gravatar. Using the same photo across all media platforms is vital in branding. Your face or your logo is what everyone sees. The more times they consistently see that image, the more they will remember you and/or your brand. Make sure you delete any accounts that are duplicates and/or ones which you will not be needing.
Think about your personal branding attributes, what key aspect(s) will be memorable?Is your font or brand name easy to read? Is your logo good? Is it memorable? What about your personal style? It could include a signature piece of clothing, hair, makeup, a tagline, your public persona, etc. If you are branding yourself, You are your Brand. (Cocoa-Cola is always in red and white, Iris Apfel is always in big, round glasses, Donald Trump is always saying something shocking.) This is a key in strong branding strategies, and may or may not be one you employ. But do give it some thought, and find something that is authentic and meaningful to you.
Using, Leveraging and Managing your brand. Now that you have created your brand image, message and have globally branded across all social media platforms, you will want to define which channels you will use and how. Perhaps you will use Twitter or LinkedIn to post your business articles or share links from your blog, or YouTube to post your latest travel review videos, or Pinterest for your recipes. Whatever methods you choose, make sure to respect the platform and target your audience and place your content accordingly. Constantly posting links on sites which are irrelevant can kill a brand and your image fast. I manage several very successful LinkedIn groups and I notice when a business or blogger is no only over posting, but over posting irrelevant content. It just looks bad and disrespectful. Target the appropriate platforms for your content or message. People may not always notice you, but they will notice if your messages look like SPAM.
[Here is where it might get overwhelming and tricky if you aren't social media marketing savvy. If you are not, refer to a previous post about social media marketing. It's a long but IMPORTANT read, and one you should save in your Favorites for when you're at that stage]
Secondly, reconsider the option of sending automatic Direct Messages (DM) on Twitter for new Followers. This, in my opinion, is impersonal and may get you deleted as quickly as you were added. Oprah doesn’t send DMs and frankly neither should you. If you find someone you want to connect with, politely send them (personally) a quick direct message if their email or website info is not listed on their Twitter profile. A great way to win brownie points for your brand: send a welcome tweet that says something like: Hi @AvaMarieC Thank you so much for the Follow. I'm looking forward to sharing Tweets!
Automated shout outs are OK and can be fun, or in line with your brand message. For Berry Jane, I like to have fun with my new Followers by sending shout out Tweets that say: @twitteruser Thanks for Following...you MUST be awesome! or Shoutout to our new Followers: @XXAmandaxx @XXmclanexx You ROCK!!
Managing the Brand. Assuming you are now at this stage, you will want to manage all areas of your brand proactively and consistently. Make sure all of your posts, reviews, communication styles and even photos are in sync with your brand image and message. For example, seeing a posting of a funny cat video from a data management guru would seem confusing, wouldn’t it? Not that humor has a negative connotation in branding, but if your brand image goal and story is one of a resolute, data-driven professional with tons of knowledge in your field, posting a silly cat video on your brands’ Twitter account might not be in alignment with your goal. If, however, your brand message is one of a very humorous and personable guy who shares more than just useful info, go ahead. Whatever it is you do, make sure it is consistent. There is nothing wrong with connecting on a very personal level if that is who you are, and what you want to do. Even Taylor Swift makes it a point to connect with her fans in very personal ways. Well, she used to before she..wait, REBRANDED.
Most importantly: Keep your images, messages and goals cohesive and consistent.
COHESIVE AND CONSISTENT. Don’t create a Facebook page that doesn’t match your Twitter page. Don’t post negative comments if your brand is all about positivity and love. Ask yourself before you post or comment, “Is this in line with my brand message?” If it is not, don’t post it. And last, but certainly not least: Make sure the brand you are creating is at the very least the most authentic version of who you are, or in line with what you value or enjoy most. Not only will it be easier to maintain, but it will feel a lot better to you.