Personal branding is one of the most effective ways to grow your business in 2023. In fact, we think it will be one of the biggest opportunities of the decade.
Have you ever found that generating awareness for your brand seems like shouting into an empty room? As loud as you shout, your message just isn't heard.
And it means you struggle to grow your business at the pace you should be able to, because not enough people know who you are, let alone like you and trust you...
Wouldn't it be easier if you had a trail of opportunity coming to you, and your problem was filtering out the best ones from the rest, not having to feed on the scraps?
Building a personal brand might just be the remedy you need.
There has never been a better time to create a strong personal brand and become a thought leader in your industry. But time is of the essence. The space is becoming more competitive and those who don't create their personal brand soon will struggle in years to come.
If you're a business owner and you want to learn how personal branding can give you a competitive advantage, help you land more opportunities, win higher paying clients and customers, hire the best talent in the world and help you dominate your industry, read on...
Here's what we'll cover in this article:
- What Is Personal Branding? (And What Is It Not?)
- Does Everyone Have A Personal Brand?
- Why Personal Branding Is Important
- Personal Branding Stats
- How To Start A Personal Brand
- Biggest Personal Branding Mistakes
- Personal Branding Top Tips
- Personal Brand Examples
What Is Personal Branding?
Personal branding is the process of framing your skills, experience, expertise, values and personality in the best way possible to develop your reputation online and in real life.
Some say it's what other people say about you when you're not in the room.
Others say it's as simple as your reputation.
You might even hear it called self-branding, thought leadership or industry leadership.
Whichever definition of personal branding you come across, it's all about a similar thing:
Deliberately positioning yourself in the best light possible to positively impact your career or business.
What Is Personal Branding Not
Personal branding is not about faking or forging false representation for yourself.
That's not authentic and quickly gets found out. It's important to create a personal brand that is genuine and true to you.
It's not about self-promotion either. If you're building a personal brand purely for the ego-trip, you're in it for the wrong reasons.
It's also not necessarily about becoming an 'influencer'. Whilst you'll certainly become more influential in your space, it's often a means to end rather than the end itself. So no, you don't need those topless pictures from your holiday to Lanzarote.
You don't have to be a public figure to build your personal brand. Everyone should build a strong personal brand if they want to develop their careers, particularly if you're a founder or CEO looking to grow your company.
Does Everyone Have A Personal Brand?
Truth is, it depends who you ask.
Our take is that not everyone has a personal brand, but everyone can engage in personal branding to build one.
Certainly, everyone has a reputation. Reputation becomes a personal brand when there is more intentionality behind it.
Whichever way you look at it, it's semantics. Don't stress.
Why Is Personal Branding Important?
There are so many reasons why personal branding is important.
Personal branding can help you become a leader in your industry, making you the go-to person for prospective clients and customers needing help.
A successful personal brand will help you build trust and connection with your audience in a more authentic way, allowing you to generate opportunities, sell more and grow your business - people buy from people, after all.
Here are a few of the most common reasons we see for people wanting to build their personal brands. How many apply to you?
- Become an industry leader
- Grow an audience
- Land more clients/customers
- Attract investment
- Support company branding
- Land speaking opportunities
- Win higher paying clients
- Make an impact
- Pioneer a movement
- Create hype or interest around a company
- Attract industry leading talent
- Improve conversion rates
- Future-proof their careers
- Land advisory/consulting roles
- Build brand awareness
- Raise awareness of a company brand
Ultimately, it's a way for you to build awareness and trust at scale.
No one can deny that having 10x more people know you, like you and trust you would help grow your business.
Personal Branding Stats
An effective personal branding strategy will open up a world of opportunity for you in your career and business.
Still not convinced? Here are 9 personal branding stats that prove it!
(Even we were amazed at some of these)
- People are willing to pay up to 13.57x more for those they consider to be elite experts, compared to the average person. (Hinge Marketing)
- Executives worldwide attribute up to 43% of company market value to their CEO's reputation. (Weber-Shandwick)
- Brand messages get 561% more reach when shared through employee's personal accounts than through the company brand account.
- Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when posted by an employee versus the brand's social media channels.
- Content shared by employees receives 8 times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.
- Leads obtained through employees’ social media convert 7x more frequently than other leads. (Dreambox)
- 77% of consumers are more likely to buy when the CEO of the business uses social media.
- Employees have 10x more followers than their company’s social media accounts. (Markivis)
- B2B customers are 2x more likely to choose a brand that conveys personal over business value. (Protocol 80)
How Do You Start A Personal Brand
By now, hopefully you're convinced that you need to build your own personal brand. But where do you start?
Well, building a personal brand has a lot of similarities to building a business brand...
You need a goal and a set of boundaries within which your personal brand will exist.
You wouldn't get in your car and drive without a destination would you? So start with your reason for building a personal brand in the first place.
Once you've got an idea of that, start putting these tips into practice...
Personal Branding Top Tips: How To Build A Strong Personal Brand
Define What Kind of Reputation You Want
The first step in any successful branding or marketing exercise is to build a strategy.
When it comes to personal branding, this should be built around the reputation you want - or need - to build.
(We call this 'Positioning')
With your end goal in mind, ask yourself, 'What kind of reputation to I want to have?'
This acts like your 'North Star' - it guides everything else you do.
You can't really build a personal brand without answering this question, so take your time to ponder it.
You might find it helpful to also consider:
- What you want to be known for
- What core values you have that you want to share
- What topics you want to be seen as an expert in
- What personality traits you want to be seen to have
- What your audience need to see from you to trust you
- What you need to show to position yourself in a certain light
You might go down quite a professional, formal route in your branding. Or maybe you're more of the tie-loathing adventurer type...?
Understand What Makes You Different
Once you know what you want to be known for, to build a truly great personal brand, you need to give people a reason to listen to you.
Why you, out of the 8 billion-odd people on Earth?
Sounds like a harsh question, but answering it is the difference between a wildly profitable personal brand and one that falls on deaf ears.
What unique combination of skills, expertise, experience, values and personality do you have that set you apart from the rest of the competition?
Leverage your strengths in the offline world to build a compelling personal brand positioning strategy online.
Select Your Social Networks of Choice
Once you know what kind of reputation you want to build, you need to know where you're going to build it.
Social media platforms provide a great springboard for personal branding, but it's important to pick the right social channels to build - the ones where your target audience are actually hanging out.
You should also lean into your strengths in the beginning. Are you particularly good in front of camera? Start posting YouTube videos! Are you a photo-fanatic? Maybe your Instagram account is the way forward. Prefer sticking to written content? Why not post on LinkedIn.
Once you get comfortable on your chosen channel, you should push your comfort zone and explore others! Self branding is an ongoing process that should continually push your comfort zone!
If you're a business owner, LinkedIn is a great place to start in 2023. It's always been the most used and the most successful platform across our 100+ clients. Having written 200+ pieces of LinkedIn content every week for the the last 2 years, we've learnt a thing or two about growing a LinkedIn profile - read more here.
Optimise Your Social Profiles
Once you've selected your channels, it's important to optimise your social profiles. Your social pages are the new business cards - except they also act as a landing page, a sales page, a pitch deck and a website all in one - so it's pretty important you get them nailed.
Make sure you have a high quality headshot, a clear, specific value proposition explaining what you do and links to important web pages and content.
You might like to check out this guide on how to optimise your LinkedIn profile.
ps. Please don't be that person that writes your bio in third person. Stick to first person.
Creating and posting content is most likely going to be the single biggest driver of your personal brand growth at the start. In fact, it's tough to build an effective personal brand without it... Quite simply, you need to create content.
Creating content is all about sharing your unique point of view on key conversations in your industry. You should aim to educate, inspire or entertain your audience in each piece of content you put out.
The best personal brands share a mix of audience building content, content that builds trust and content that turns followers into paying clients for their business.
Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person or a good writer, you can use content templates to kickstart your growth (or get us to do it for you...). You'll become a content machine in no time, turning ideas into engaging social posts on repeat.
We've had clients, like Chris, generating millions of views and 6 figures in pipeline value, simply by sharing content on their social profiles.
Engage With your Audience
Once you start posting content, you'll find that your target audience start to engage with your posts, but if you want to build a more personal connection with your followers and grow your audience faster, it's important that you also engage back with them.
Not only should you respond to comments on your posts, but you should also leave meaningful comments on other people's posts in your industry.
This is a great way to 'piggy-back' off industry conversations and get your profile in front of the right audience.
Appear On Podcasts
Appearing on podcasts is a great way to grow your audience and create content at scale.
Think about some of the best personal brands you follow - how many of them have appeared on podcasts? Quite a few, right? Maybe that's how you came across them in the first place.
The richness of video and audio content that comes with a podcast appearance helps you enhance your personal connection with your audience and provides a great opportunity for you to repurpose social media content off the back of it.
Write For Other Publications
Blogging will help you build your personal brand by placing thought-leadership content in front of your target audience at scale.
Think about it, if your target audience are other business owners and you write articles that feature in Forbes, Entrepreneur and Techround, you can quickly imagine how that turns into audience growth and business opportunities.
The best thing about this is that these sites have done the hard work for you... They've already built the audience of potential clients for you!
Leveraging PR is another effective personal branding strategy as it allows you to rapidly grow your presence online. You can use use PR to announce achievements in your business - new services, new hires or new locations (like this piece!) - or to share thought leadership (like this piece!).
However you use it, effective PR will help you create a buzz around your brand and help you build authority.
Build Your Personal Brand Website
Building your own personal website with your own domain name can help build a more professional picture - it's a stamp of credibility for potential customers, and may help you land clients, speaking gigs or PR features.
Make sure it's not dormant though! If you are going to build a personal website to support your brand, make sure you're creating your own content on there too - write blogs, re-share videos or offer an email newsletter.
Leverage Testimonials, Results and Case Studies
Testimonials, results and case studies help you answer the unsaid question on everybody's mind before the engage, follow or buy from you:
'Can I trust you?'
They provide social proof - one of the biggest factors in influencing whether people will buy.
Truth is, building a personal brand takes time. Sure, you might see traction in the early days, but if you want to build a truly outstanding personal brand, you need to be consistent month on month, year on year.
We like to say, 'reputation requires repetition'.
If you're constantly changing tack, or giving up completely, there's no way you can carve out a significant position in your industry. You must have a unified theme across all areas of your personal brand and reinforce it over and over again!
No two ways about it - persistence pays.
Biggest Personal Brand Mistakes to Avoid
Whilst there are a number of things you should do to build your personal brand, there are also a number of common mistakes you should avoid.
Let's dive into a few of thew biggest personal brand mistakes we see:
Mistake 1: Making It All About You
Truthfully, personal branding is not about you. Sounds coutner-intuitive, but it's true. If you want to build a successful personal brand, you need to focus on helping others fulfil a bigger mission.
If your personal brand is self-obsessed, you'll struggle to get any buy-in from your audience.
Mistake 2: Not Being Consistent
Personal branding takes time and commitment. All too often we see ambitious entrepreneurs give up on personal branding after not seeing immediate results.
You need to be consistent with your efforts over 3-5+ years, not 3-5 days! Stick with it and make sure you're taking steps forward every week.
Mistake 3: Being Too Broad
There's a saying, 'If you try to be known for everything, you'll be known for nothing', and it's true. Whilst you might love talking about business, health, productivity, football, punk-rock and Marvel, your personal brand must be a little more refined.
Pick 1-3 topics you really want to be known for and own that space. Yes, your audience might seem smaller, but your reputation amongst them will be much stronger.
Examples of Strong Personal Brands
What better way to inspire you into action than with some of the best personal brand examples we know of.
Justin Welsh is a great example of the text-book personal brand: Prolific social presence across LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter (with nearly 700,000 followers across his social accounts), positive search results and countless press features, all backed up by rock-solid positioning as 'The Diversified Solopreneur' and a strong value proposition.
Justin is known for one thing: Helping people escape the corporate rate race and build simple but incredibly profitable one-person businesses.
He's a master of speaking to the pains and desires of his audience, not afraid to get off the fence and alienate those who won't buy into his philosophy.
Justin Welsh's personal brand is not just a pretty picture though - it's also wildly profitable, something anyone seeking professional success must be conscious of. It has allowed him to generate over £1 million in revenue for his businesses.
If you're considering creating a personal brand to help grow your own company, look no further than Justin for inspiration.
Sophie has been able to create a notable personal brand by leveraging the power of community building. Much of her success can be attributed to how well she engages and relates to her audience on social media. As a result, she's built a following of over 110,000 people on LinkedIn (as well as 135,000 followers on her company LinkedIn page).
Sophie creates content to support freelancers and young people into the world of marketing, whilst consulting for global brands. Her content is transparent, authentic and relatable for her audience of budding marketers.
Outside of social media, she frequently appears on podcasts and speaks at events, whilst running a number of her own for her small business - Pretty Little Marketer, which provides resources, support and online courses.
Gary Vaynerchuk, also known as Gary Vee, has risen to fame over the last 10 years and is often cited as one of the pioneers of personal branding. Gary started his personal branding journey by growing a YouTube channel for his family business, Wine Library.
He has since built a prolific YouTube channel of his own, as well as a podcast, numerous social accounts and a group of incredibly successful companies. He's a 5x New York Times best selling author and regular public speaker.
Gary might well be described as a 'marmite personal brand'. And this is a good thing - if you want to speak deeply to one audience, you have to accept others will disagree with you. Love him or hate him, you can't deny Gary is one of the best personal brand examples around.
Tony Robbins is another example of someone who has helped bring personal branding into the public sphere.
As his Twitter bio will tell us, Tony is highly regarded as 'The Nation’s [US] #1 Life & Business Strategist - a result of strong position and viral social presence.
Whether he's speaking on stage to thousands of people, appearing on a podcast or sharing content across social media , Tony's personal brand is cohesive and clear - even down to details like his physical appearance and demeanour.
Much like many of the personal branding examples we've shared, Tony is the pioneer of a movement, and his ability to communicate a clear message has helped him create a community of followers with strong entrepreneurial aspirations.
Ok... We're slightly biased, because Izzy is one of her own, but Izzy is proof that creating a personal brand for yourself is not reserved for just seasoned entrepreneurs.
Izzy has been able to amass a following of over 60,000 people on LinkedIn in just one year!
Similarly to Sophie Miller, Izzy provides another great example of community building at work. She has grown her following by creating engaging and thought provoking content that her audience of marketers can relate to.
Hopefully these personal brand examples give you the inspiration you need to develop your own brand.
Personal branding is not about forging a false representation of yourself. It's about framing the experience and expertise you do have in the best way possible in order to build trust at scale.
It's a powerful business strategy you can use to build awareness, become an industry leader, win more clients, grow your business and future-proof your career.
If you're looking to grow your business, win new opportunities, attract top talent, or simply build a better reputation for yourself, building a personal brand is a must.