The Complete Guide to Building a Personal Brand in 2020
9 reasons, 9 steps, and the ultimate call to action
At first glance, a slogan like “Just Do It” seems ineffective. It doesn’t even mention the company’s name, Nike, nor the products the brand represents. So how on earth did this phrase become one of the best-known brand slogans of all time?
Successful branding is about emotions, not products. It’s about creating an emotional connection between the brand and the customer. As Scott Bedbury, Nike’s one-time marketing chief, wrote:
“‘Just Do It’ was not about sneakers, it was about values. It was not about products, it was about brand ethos.”
The “Just Do It” campaign featured both professional and amateur athletes talking about their emotions and accomplishments without mentioning Nike, and afterward, the tagline was displayed.
The campaign evoked such a powerful emotional response that people started writing to Nike about how they too “just did it,” such as quitting a miserable job, started working out, or ended an unhealthy relationship.
A personal brand is much more than a flashy logo or a color palette. A personal brand goes far beyond having a nice-looking business card. A personal brand is not just about having a website with your name on it.
A personal brand is much bigger and all-encompassing. It’s about who you are and what you do. Your personal brand is how you present yourself, both online and offline, to your ideal audience.
Your personal brand is the image you put forth. It’s what you stand for. Your values. What you’re all about. The core of who you are as a person. Your personal brand is your secret sauce, the thing that sets you apart from everyone else. It’s what makes you unique.
Your personal brand centers around you as an individual. It’s about what you bring to the table, the value that you oﬀer. It involves the specific ways that you solve people’s deepest pain points and biggest frustrations.
You’re going to have a personal brand, whether you want to or not. Everything you share online, every email you send to your audience, every blog post you write, every live event you host, they’re all part of your brand.
They all shape the way people think about you and the image you put forth. The question is whether you want your brand to develop on its own, with no guidance from you, or whether you want to be actively in control of the process.
How do you actively build a personal brand?
How do you get in control of the process?
How do you ensure that your brand is helping to build your business?
That’s what the rest of this post is about.
Why You Need to Build a Personal Brand
Here’s the reality: Every entrepreneur, coach, consultant, and freelancer should be building their own brand.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a big name or a Fortune 500 company.
If you’re trying to build a business of any sort, it’s important to build your own personal brand.
So, what are some of the benefits of building a personal brand?
Personal Branding Allows You to Stand Out from the Competition
Building a personal brand enables you to uniquely stand out from the competition.
Your brand, values, expertise, and story all set you apart from your competitors.
Your competitors can’t bring what you bring to the table. They simply don’t have what you have to oﬀer. You’re unique.
You have unique experiences, strengths, beliefs, perspectives, skills, and insights that set you apart from everyone else. These are incredibly valuable and distinguish you from your competitors.
Building your personal brand allows you to highlight your uniqueness.
It allows you to capitalize on your strengths. It allows you to highlight the best parts of you.
And as you work to highlight your strengths, it distinguishes you from all your competitors. It gives you a distinct competitive advantage.
Think about Rolex and how they’ve set themselves apart from the competition. Because they’ve focused on exclusively being a luxury watch brand, they’ve set themselves apart from other watch companies, like say Timex.
Rolex is the brand for those who want a luxury watch, while Timex is the brand for those who want a sturdy, relatively inexpensive watch.
By working relentlessly to build its brand, Rolex has distinguished itself from every other watch company.
The more you work to build your personal brand, the greater edge you’ll have over your competition. You’ll stand out amidst the crowd.
Personal Branding Allows You to Charge a Premium Price
Personal branding highlights just how unique you are and the incredible value that you offer. Because you bring unique value to the table, a value that no one else oﬀers, you can charge a premium price for your services.
When you craft a strong personal brand, you can charge a higher price for your products and services because they’re exclusive to you. They can’t be purchased at another store or from another person.
The stronger your brand, the more people want your services. The more people want your services, the higher the price you can charge.
This is exactly why Nike is able to charge so much for their shoes. They’ve spent years building their brand into a powerhouse. Nike shoes have become a status symbol, and wearing Nikes says something about who you are.
By working hard to build your personal brand and showing how much value you bring to the table, you too can charge a premium price.
Personal Branding Highlights Your Expertise
Because your personal brand is how you present yourself to the world, this means that a significant amount of personal branding involves the content that you share with the world.
And the more valuable the content you share, the more you demonstrate that you’re an expert who should be trusted.
With every piece of content that you share, you establish yourself as an expert in your field. As someone who really knows what they’re talking about. As a thought leader in your arena.
You’re proving just how much value you oﬀer and that you’re the go-to person in your industry.
The more you demonstrate your expertise, the more your audience will trust you and come to you to solve their problems.
Personal Branding Allows You to Attract Your Ideal Audience
When you’re known as the expert in your industry:
- It attracts your ideal audience, the people who need your help the most.
- You get more referrals from others in your industry and related industries.
- You can charge a premium price, the kind of price that only an expert can charge.
Tony Robbins is a prime example of this. For years, he’s been sharing the same message of self-empowerment.
Everything he says, every video he puts out, and every book he writes has the same brand message: You can develop into a powerful individual and I can help you to do that.
Over time, he has established himself as one of — if not the — go-to person in the self-development arena.
- He attracts huge audiences of people who want to fulfill their potential.
- Millions of people read his books and follow him on social media.
- He can charge a premium price for his services.
Do you want to experience the Tony Robbins effect?
If you want to be known as the go-to person in your industry, then it’s absolutely essential that you begin building your personal brand as soon as possible.
Personal Branding Puts You in Charge of the Narrative
Your personal brand will evolve, whether you want it to or not. If you use social media, have an email list, have a blog, speak to groups, or record and share videos, then you’re already building your personal brand. Everything you put out into the world is part of your personal brand.
The question is whether you’re intentionally shaping the narrative of your brand.
Are you carefully determining exactly what your brand is all about, or are you letting it happen in an ad hoc manner?
Are you thoughtfully curating your brand, or are you letting your brand “evolve” on its own?
The beauty of personal branding is that it ensures that you’re actively shaping your own narrative.
You’re determining what others think about you, rather than simply letting them form their own opinions.
With every social media post you share, every blog post you put up, and every email you send, you’re shaping the narrative of who you are. You’re in control of the story.
Personal Branding Increases Your Visibility
The more you build your personal brand, the more visible you’ll become.
- You’ll attract more fans on social media.
- Those fans will share your content with their tribes.
- The more your content gets shared, the more fans you’ll attract.
- And “repeat.”
It’s a powerful cycle.
As your fan base grows, you can expect to be featured in the media.
Media outlets are always looking for experts to comment on particular subjects, and when you become known as the expert in your field, you’ll start generating media requests.
The truth is, building your personal brand and building your platform go hand-in-hand.
Building your brand is a virtuous cycle that brings greater and greater results the more you do it.
Personal Branding Shapes What Content You Share
If you don’t have a strong personal brand, then you don’t have any guidelines as to what content you should share with your audience.
So you end up sharing either nothing at all or whatever catches your fancy at any given moment. Neither of these strategies contributes to your personal brand.
When you have a strong personal brand, it guides you toward exactly what type of content you should share.
Simply put, you should only share content that aligns with and promotes the values of your personal brand.
A meme might be funny, but if it doesn’t add to your personal brand, you shouldn’t share it.
Personal Branding Connects You More With Individuals
People connect better with people than they do with companies. It’s why Elon Musk and Richard Branson have more individual Twitter followers than the companies they founded.
The more you work to build your personal brand, the more individuals will want to connect with you, both in-person and online. People will be attracted to your values, personality, convictions, and the insights you have to oﬀer.
The more connected you are, the more business opportunities will present themselves to you. More speaking requests. More media opportunities. The opportunity to partner with other like-minded people.
Building your personal brand connects you personally with potential customers and clients, which then builds your business.
Personal Branding Allows You to Become an Influencer
The more you develop your personal brand, the more you become known as an “influencer.” An influencer is someone who significantly shapes the opinions of their followers and has a big influence on how they behave.
There are some significant benefits to being an influencer. Big brands want to work with influencers that have a large audience, which can result in more revenue for you. You also often receive free products from companies who are interested in partnering with you, and you receive media requests to speak at — or even just attend — events.
If you want to get in on these perks, start working to develop your personal brand.
The Power of the Personal Brand
Are you starting to see the power of your personal brand? Your personal brand is what enables you to distinguish yourself from the competition. It allows you to charge a premium price for your services.
The more you focus on your personal brand, the more visible you become, and the more you become known as the expert in your field. The more you’re known as an expert, the more opportunities come your way.
There are few things more powerful than your personal brand. The more you focus on building it, the greater the results you’ll see.
Now, are you ready to start building your personal brand?
How to Build a Personal Brand
Step 1: Determine who you really are
The first step in creating a powerful personal brand is to determine who you are. Remember, building your personal brand is about sharing your authentic self with the world.
Your personal brand is built upon your skills, passions, values, and beliefs. You need to know yourself if you want to build a strong personal brand.
- What unique skills do I have?
- What are my core values?
- What am I most passionate about?
- What unique experiences have shaped who I am?
- How can I most eﬀectively serve my core audience?
- What do I have to oﬀer that no one else does?
The answers to these questions will shape your personal brand. They’ll help you get to the core of what matters most to you and how you can add value to your audience.
Step 2: Determine what you want to accomplish
It’s now time to think about what you want to accomplish with your personal brand.
Answer these questions:
- What would I like to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
- What do I want to be known for?
- If I could be the world’s foremost expert on a topic, what would it be?
- What key message do I want to communicate?
- If I could only give one piece of advice, what would it be?
The answers to these questions should further solidify in your mind what your personal brand will look like.
Step 3: Identify your target audience
You can’t eﬀectively serve everyone. Rather, there’s a core demographic of people who will resonate deeply with you, your brand, and what you oﬀer.
This core demographic is your target audience. It’s these people who you’ll serve most eﬀectively and who will be your ideal client.
To identify your core audience, ask yourself these questions:
- Who can I most eﬀectively help?
- Who will benefit most from my skillset and knowledge?
- Who am I most passionate about serving?
- Who will resonate most with me and my brand?
When determining your core audience, it can be helpful to create a persona. This persona represents your ideal client.
Include the following information in the persona:
- Demographics: How old are they? Male? Female? Single? Married? What’s their level of education? What career are they in? How much do they make?
- Hopes and dreams: What do they want their future to look like? What are their goals?
- Challenges: What obstacles do they face? Why haven’t they been able to reach their goals?
Step 4: Determine your unique value proposition
Your Unique Service Proposition (USP) is simply your brand summed up into a single, powerful compelling statement that describes exactly what you do for your audience.
A USP typically looks something like this:
I help (target person) to (achieve X) so that they can (outcome).
For example, your USP may be something like, “I help entrepreneurs scale their businesses over six-figures per year so they can live a life of freedom.”
Your USP doesn’t have to say everything about your brand, but it should get right to the heart of who you are and how you help your audience.
It might help to give your USP a unique name that will stick in people’s minds. For example, if you help entrepreneurs scale their businesses, you could call your USP something like, “Scale Without Fail.”
It just needs to be short, memorable, and aptly describe what you do.
Avoid skimping on this step. Creating your USP gives you a high degree of clarity about what your brand is all about.
Take the necessary time to craft a USP that adequately captures what your brand is about.
Step 5: Start treating yourself as a brand
Once you’ve identified the core of your brand, as well as your target audience, it’s time to start treating yourself as a brand.
What does this look like practically?
In every communication with your audience, whether it’s a blog post, email, podcast, or social media post, you stay true to your brand message.
You constantly speak about the problems you solve, constantly encourage your audience, and constantly voice the message of your brand.
You constantly reinforce your Unique Service Proposition in everything you do.
Your goal is to portray yourself as a strong, compelling brand, and not just an ordinary person. You have to treat yourself like you truly are: A powerful brand that has a powerful message.
Step 6: Optimize your website
It’s now time to get into the nitty-gritty of optimizing your online presence so that it matches your brand. You’re going to start with your website, since this functions as your “home base.” Your website is one of the primary places people get to know who you are and what you do.
Your website also functions as one of the primary ways you turn visitors into paying clients, and it needs to be optimized for that.
First impressions are really important when it comes to your website. Visitors should be able to immediately determine how you can help solve their problems.
If they can’t, there’s a good chance they’ll leave.
So how do you optimize your site to reflect your brand?
- Have a professional logo designed. A professional logo shows people that you’re serious about what you do and really do treat yourself as a brand.
- Show oﬀ your Unique Service Proposition. From the moment they arrive on your website, visitors should see your USP. It’s what will draw them to your site and make them want to investigate more.
Ideally, your USP will be front and center at the top of your website so that it’s likely to be the first thing that people see. It should be impossible to miss. It should function like the main headline in a newspaper. The eye should be drawn to it immediately.
- Use professional photographs. Have a professional photographer take high-quality photos of you. Low-quality photos will ultimately reflect poorly on your brand.
- Use testimonials. Testimonials are proof that you really can solve people’s problems. If you’ve been featured in any media outlets, show oﬀ those credentials too.
- Present a clear call-to-action. You ultimately want people to take action when they’re on your website. You want them to join your email list, watch your webinar, or sign up for a free consultation. Give visitors a clear call-to-action.
- Create a compelling “About” page. On your “about,” tell your story. How did you get to where you currently are? What motivates you to serve your audience? Why do you do what you do?
- Create a services page. If you want clients to hire you, it’s important to have a clear services page in which you explain what you oﬀer and what’s included.
- Give away free resources. One of the best ways to build your brand is to give away free content on your website. This could be anything from blog posts to videos to an eBook. Giving away content in exchange for a visitor’s email address is also a great way to grow your email list.
- Create a contact page. You obviously want a way for people to get in touch with you. This happens primarily through your contact page on your website.
Step 7: Develop your content strategy
The primary way to build your brand is by creating strategic content. By content, we mean blog posts, videos, social media posts, emails, aﬀirmations, podcasts, and the like.
Every piece of content you share with your audience should serve to build your brand.
Developing a strategic content strategy is one of the most eﬀective ways to ensure that you’re constantly staying on brand.
When it comes to your content strategy, the “Pillar Method” is recommended, a term coined by Gary Vaynerchuk.
The Pillar Method works as follows:
- At set intervals (every day, every week, etc.) create a longer piece of “pillar” content. This could be a blog post, video, or eBook. The point is that it needs to be on the longer side so that it can be repurposed in numerous ways. This pillar content should always reinforce some part of your brand. Maybe one day you speak to a particular pain point. Another day you encourage your audience to strive for their goals. Whatever the case, it’s essential that your pillar content always be tied back to your brand.
- Take your pillar content and cut it up into smaller, shareable pieces of content. So if you have a 10-minute video, find three parts of that video that could be shared on their own and extract those clips. If you have a 1,000-word blog post, extract five 100-word excerpts that can stand on their own.
- Share the smaller pieces of content across all your channels. Once you’ve created your smaller pieces of content, you’re going to post those across all your channels, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and email.
- Repeat the process again and again. Consistency is the key. By consistently sharing your brand message, you’ll steadily build your audience.
By using the “Pillar Method” for your content strategy, you ensure that every piece of content you post is always on brand. Your Facebook posts, Instagram videos, blog posts, YouTube videos, and emails are always speaking your brand message to your audience.
The key point is that everything you send out should be brand related. You want to constantly reinforce your brand to your audience.
Step 8: Constantly add value to your audience
When it comes to building your brand, it’s essential that you constantly give value to your audience without asking for anything in return. Yes, there will be times when you invite people to buy from you or become a client, but you don’t want that to be the main theme of your brand.
The main thing people should take away when interacting with your brand is how much value you provide.
The main way you provide value is through your content strategy. This is why it’s so critical to constantly put out new content.
If you’re not putting out new content, you’re not giving away value.
Step 9: Build a community
One of the best ways to build your brand is to build a community where you and the members can all help each other. The value in building a community around your brand is that it gets others involved in helping to promote your brand.
You create a tribe of passionate people who care about the same things you do.
So how can you build a community?
- Start a private Facebook group. People can interact with each other, share ideas, interact with you, and raise questions.
- Host live events. Live events allow you to meet members of your tribe in person. Coﬀee meetups, retreats, workshops, masterminds, and private dinners are all great ways to deepen your relationships with them.
- Create a membership site. For a small monthly fee, you can give people exclusive access to you and the content you provide. You can also give them access to things like group calls every month, ongoing webinars, and a forum where they can interact with you and other members.
Now Is the Time to Build Your Brand
You have a personal brand whether you want to or not. Every single thing you share with your audience either adds to or takes away from your personal brand. You absolutely need to be intentional about building your brand.
Thankfully, it’s not particularly diﬀicult to build a personal brand.
Here’s a quick summary of what we covered:
- Identify what matters to you.
- Define your core audience.
- Determine your Unique Service Proposition.
- Treat yourself like a brand.
- Create your compelling website.
- Create your content strategy.
- Constantly bring your best self to your audience.
- Build your community.
The more you do these things, the more you’ll build your brand, and the more you’ll attract an audience of raving fans.
Avoid waiting any longer to build your personal brand.
Get started on it today! Your audience needs you.
Get out there and start serving them. You’ll be glad you did!