Building a personal brand is essential for building a business or propelling your career forward. Whether you work in a business or own a business, your personal brand is your reputation and what differentiates you from everyone else.
As Eman Ismail, a copywriter I look up to says, what you do isn’t always what you think you do. It’s how people describe you when you’re not in the room. If there’s a gap here, then you have to take control of the narrative and change people’s perceptions.
That’s the true power of a personal brand.
If you’re in business for yourself and are the face of the company, your brand probably doubles as your company’s brand. However, if you’re not the face of the company or work in a business that you don’t own, your brand is how you stand out, either within that company or on your own. And if you’re hoping to progress in the company and drive growth, you can identify areas of the company brand that resonate with you and amplify those messages as part of your personal brand.
Before diving into the details of building your brand, let’s explore the differences between personal and business brands to understand how they complement one another.
What Is A Personal Brand?
Your personal brand defines who you are and what you stand for. It’s also how people introduce you.
This brand focuses on you as a person, whereas business brands prioritize the business and how it serves clients or customers.
You can have a personal brand without having a business. In fact, everyone does. So when we talk about building a personal brand, it’s about taking a strategic approach to define and use that brand to build your reputation. and plenty of people who work for a company instead still benefit from having their own brand.
Personal brands–like people–can evolve, but you want to ensure these changes are authentic. Your brand should be genuine and accurately represent your personality, language, tone of voice, and stories.
What Is A Corporate Brand?
A corporate brand helps your business stand on its own. Corporate brands are everywhere, from consumer goods to professional services. Truthfully, every business has its own brand.
Sometimes the face of the company is synonymous with the brand. Whereas other times, the brand is a completely separate entity. A corporate brand typically maintains consistent messaging, appearance, and brand voice throughout the business’ lifetime. Rebrands happen, and these changes can happen organically as well.
It’s important to re-evaluate your brand and positioning periodically, usually every year for solopreneurs, 3 years for small businesses, and 5 years for mid-sized businesses–but these rules aren’t set in stone.
Every business has a brand, but so does every person–it’s only a matter of developing it. Taking the initiative to mold your brand into what you want creates opportunities that might not have been available before.
What Are The Benefits Of a Personal Brand?
Now that you know what a personal brand is and how it differs from a business brand, it’s time to see what a personal brand does for you.
Position Your Company As An Authority In The Industry
Since your business is tied to your personal brand, your company also appears as an expert in the industry. For example, if you’re known as a financial strategist and own an accounting firm, people will most likely feel they can trust your firm with their bookkeeping. You can use your personal brand to build trust with your audience–but remember, these connections must be authentic.
Find Employees That Align With Your Values
Putting your personal brand out into the world helps you build relationships with others whose values align with yours. And there’s a good chance some people you meet will want to work with you. Having employees who believe in the company’s mission gives your business a strong advantage. Everyone works towards the same goal, not because they feel they have to, but because they believe in what your company stands for.
Build Relationships and Attract Leads
Whenever people start businesses, no matter how big they grow, they all start the same way–small and based on referrals for a job well done. And that’s because you tend to buy from people you already know.
The same concept applies to your brand. A personal brand tells people who you are and what you do, even if they’ve never spoken to you directly. People will feel like they know you and will be more inclined to do business with you–this could be in the form of becoming a client, inviting you to be a guest on their podcast, or being a panelist at their conference.
Partner With Other Businesses
As you build relationships and attract leads with your personal brand, you also create more opportunities to partner with other businesses. If you know someone you want to collaborate with for a webinar, podcast, or course launch, a strong personal brand helps them feel like they know you…and say yes. They’ll already know your name and your expertise, so they might also be eager to work with you. And you’ll probably get some proposals from others who admire you and want to collaborate with you. These partnerships are both a result of your brand and another tool for you to strengthen it.
How Your Brand Fits Into Your Company’s Brand
You can build a personal brand that fits into your company’s brand and that simultaneously serves to further your own career by building influence and authority in your industry.
Use Your Influence As Leverage
According to Forbes, “In 2018, CareerBuilder found that 70% of employers researched candidates online, and what they found influenced whether the candidate moved forward.” Post-pandemic, that number is just about guaranteed to be significantly higher. You can still control the narrative through your personal brand even if you’re working for a business. If you’re applying for a job in a competitive field, a strong personal brand must stand out. When a recruiter searches for you online and sees you’ve appeared on various podcasts, hosted webinars and training, and are a go-to expert in your field, they’re more likely to choose you. This kind of influence gives you an excellent opportunity and cause to ask for a higher salary.
Become A Source of Industry Information
Staying current on industry trends sounds like a simple task, but it can take a lot of time. This is where you come in. You may already be doing this research on your own time for your brand’s benefit so that it won’t be an extra task. Making your boss’s job easier is one sure way to get noticed. You’ll show them you provide more value than they expected to receive.
Access to Influential Relationships
Much like with industry trends, you’re already coming into the business with a digital Rolodex of other industry experts. You may have information and resources that the company may not know exist–simply because you have a network of professionals in lots of industries. For example, let’s say your company is looking for some help telling their company and success stories, but it’s been a while since you revisited your messaging to ensure a cohesive voice and consistent storytelling. Or maybe they’ve never built a messaging platform or style guide. If you’ve got expertise in brand messaging, you can bring your knowledge to the table, and thereby drive a positive impact on the company. You can share your thoughts with leadership to increase your value with the company.
Become Your Company’s Biggest Fan
Customers notice if you regularly engage with your company’s social posts and other content. And if you have a solid personal brand, you’ll increase the company’s authority in its industry.
If you’re known for helping companies implement systems and work for a project management company, that company will look more appealing to potential customers. Using your brand to advocate for your company will make you a valuable asset.
What does being a company advocate look like?
One way to build authority for you and the company is by authoring thought leadership content. People are fascinated by success and what it takes to achieve it. Writing through leadership content builds authority and demonstrates expertise for yourself and the company.
How to Build Your Personal Brand
Now that you better understand what a personal brand is, how it differs from a company brand, and why you need one, you’ll find out how to build your brand.
Your values create the foundation for your personal brand. What do you stand for? What do you strongly believe in? You must think deeply about this since this will guide the kind of clients, employees, and work you bring on. You can use your values to build an empathetic brand if you feel strongly about being inclusive, approachable, and relatable.
And if you’re about having fun, being yourself, and making meaningful connections, you can use these values to create a personality-filled brand. If you aren’t sure what your values are, pay attention to what you find yourself saying all the time and what people associate you with.
An opinion is a belief that is bold and deeply felt. What do you think? If you believe a specific social media platform is better for a B2B brand than another, this is an opinion rather than a value. And these opinions may differ from the industry norm, but if you feel they align with your values or feel strongly about them, stick to them.
Opinions don’t have to be controversial, but they should start meaningful conversations. Your opinions probably include words like:
- “doesn’t have to.”
- “should” (which implies it isn’t common)
- “no such thing”
- “can/even if”
What You Want To Be Known For
Another way to view your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. You won’t be able to talk to everyone in person and tell them what you do, but you can still control the narrative.
Eman Ismail, another copywriter who I adore, talks about claiming the title you want in order to be taken seriously.
Think about what you’d love to hear people say when they introduce you to someone else. If you want to be known as someone who writes sites that rank on the first page of Google, you’ll want to include that everywhere and accompany it with some testimonials. When people hear what you do and see that you can walk the walk, they’ll find you credible and refer to you as an expert.
One of the most crucial parts of having a personal brand is showing up. You need to be present in the spaces where your audience is and be consistent. Copywriter extraordinaire Laura Belgray talks about building authority by showing up consistently. Your constant presence helps you build authority and credibility. In a busy world, it can be hard to take the time to post on your social platforms, update your blog, or send an email, but do your best to make the effort–it’ll pay off in the long run!
One thing to keep in mind, you don’t need to be everywhere. It’s easy to get caught up and think you need to be on every platform to be consistent–you don’t. Pick a few that you feel you can thrive on and show up regularly. Often you can cross-post Instagram content to Facebook, and LinkedIn content to Twitter.
If you have multiple platforms you want to use, you can cross-post content so you’re present without overwhelming yourself with more work. For example, you can write a post on LinkedIn and repost it on Twitter, so your followers don’t lose out on what you’re sharing with your LinkedIn connections.
Find Your People
Having a network of influential people will help you build up your brand and help you get to where you want to be. When making connections and building relationships, it’s essential to be genuine in your intent. Those you connect with can make an impact on the trajectory of your future but make an effort to get to know them first.
Personal branding expert Mike Kim always encourages people to “become the best case study” by working with influencers and mentors and then applying their lessons.
You can use the momentum of a connection’s influence to increase your own. They’re helping you out with the strength of their brand while you help them with your skill.
Aligning Your Personal Brand With Your Company’s Brand
If you’ve already begun creating your personal brand, you can review your company’s brand to find commonalities. Conversely, if your company has a strong brand and you’re just starting the process of personal brand development, this gives you a strong jumping off point. Consider evaluating where your personal philosophies align with company pillars and beliefs – and where they differ. This gives you a foundation for a brand that can grow with the company.
Values and Content Pillars
The same way you used your values to create the foundation for your personal brand, you’ll use your company’s to understand where you might find common ground. People typically work for companies whose values align with theirs whether they have a personal brand or not, so this may not be all that difficult. Do both the brands stand for transparency? What about continuous learning? Looking at the company’s content pillars can also guide you. Content pillars are core topics that can be broken down into more specific topics to create content for the brand. This will give you a solid idea of what the company frequently shares.
What strong opinions does the company espouse? Do they differ from yours? If your opinions are similar to your company’s, great. If not, this is a great opportunity to understand why you have opposite opinions. What values are these opinions based on? How can these opinions affect the way you present yourself and the company? Finding common ground can be one way to avoid any conflict these opinions might present.
What You Want To Be Known For In That Industry
You’ve already established what you want to be known for, but does this apply to what you do in your company? It depends. For example, if you’re a writer known for creating eCommerce emails with high open rates–but you work for an interior design firm that doesn’t send out emails, you might want to be known for something slightly different in that space. No differentiation is necessary if you’re known for your SEO, and the company you work for does SEO.
Leveraging your Personal Brand
If you want to advance your career or stand out from the crowd, build your personal brand. Your brand is your reputation–what people say about you when you’re not in the room. By now, you might be familiar with a few people in your industry who have strong personal brands. They’re excellent at building community, and their peers regard them as thought leaders.
Go through your existing network or look at some of the thought leaders in your industry. What do you admire about them? What makes people go to them over others? Why would you want to be like them? Take a moment to think about their brand, and you can use that to spark some inspiration for your brand.
Interested in a personal brand workshop for you or your sales team? Contact me to get started!