To officially start off this blog, I want to share with you a few things I’ve learnt from setting up my own personal brand. I call it a “personal brand manifesto”. It applies to every individual who wants to leave his or her mark on the world.
First of all, let’s start with a definition:
What is a personal brand?
To summarize it with the words of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:
“A personal brand is anything people say about you when you’re not around. It’s how people perceive you and talk about you when you leave the room.”
As I’m studying marketing on a daily basis, I gradually started to understand the value of having a personal brand. It is the number one way for you to build credibility in your niche or industry, make progress in your career, and connect with higher-level individuals. At the end, it’s how you differentiate yourself from the 7 billion other people on this planet.
After a lot of research, I found that there is a simple, 3-step formula to the set-up of a personal brand.
Believe me: each step comes with careful consideration and thoughtfulness. It may take some of you a couple of weeks (or even months) to answer these questions, but it will be all worth it at the end.
There is NO secret. You are obliged to go over these steps before you start building your brand.
The 3-step formula looks as following:
Now, let me explain these steps in more detail.
In short: what the hell are you going to talk about?
This is the most crucial part and you REALLY need to think this through carefully.
Ask yourself: What am I good at? What do I actually enjoy doing? What would I do for free every day?
To be honest, it took me literally years to figure this out. During my study periods abroad in Madrid, Paris and eventually Boston, I got to know myself better and better. I always had a sense of what I was good at, but I found it still hard to make it formal.
Therefore, the “what” is a process. It takes time to find it and it can change along the road. It’s your job to continuously adjust and build your brand name around that.
PERSONAL BRANDING STATEMENT
Now, a very good way to make your “what” more practical is to write a personal branding statement.
This is a statement of the value you promise to deliver to your target audience. It’s your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and it should capitalize on your core strengths and passions. It answers the question: “What do I want to be known for?”.
For example, my personal branding statement sounds as following: “I help individuals build their brand online.” Very simple, right?
I realized that my passion for personal development and online marketing found its way into personal branding and helping people get their voice out online. Then, it’s only a matter of coming up with a tagline that represents your value proposition. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Simplicity always wins. Therefore, try to create a vision statement that is simple and easy to remember.
Of course, your statement can be more specific than mine. Let’s have a look at this one:
Amber has a very clear vision statement in mind. She wants to be the most referred agent in the real estate industry, while providing the best possible service to her clients. The more specific you can be, the better.
IT’S A PROCESS
Don’t get me wrong: a personal branding statement is not something static. It can definitely change over time, as you change yourself. Maybe your values and interests take a different direction. Always keep paying close attention to what it is you are passionate about, and don’t be afraid to adjust the course if necessary.
Finding out your ‘what’ is crucial. It is the cornerstone of every personal brand. So take a piece of paper. Write down your strengths and passions. Find out what it is that can bring value to other people. Then, write a few personal branding statements. Play around with it. Let your creativity flow. Make other people read it and get their feedback. Then pick one.
Again, it’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient and keep taking action. You will eventually find what it is that drives you.
After you defined your personal branding statement, you have to ask yourself:
“How am I going to deliver my message?”
This is another crucial part of your personal branding strategy.
There are 3 universal ways to communicate your message:
Written communication (blogging)
Oral communication (audio/podcasting)
Body language (video)
“But can’t I do all of it?”, I hear you say. Of course you can.
However, be very aware of your talents and gifts. Some people are just not good at gesticulating in front of a camera. They look awkward, shy and are not able to fully express their emotions. At the same time, these people can be very good writers. Since they don’t have to look at a camera lens, they can fully express their honest thoughts and opinions.
This question really boils down to your character and DNA.
In general, I find that introverts tend to be better in thoughtful written communication. This is because introverts are less easily distracted by external stimulations. They can focus for longer periods of time, which is something thoughtful writing demands. As a result, that type of person might benefit more from starting a blog in stead of a You Tube channel.
Other people might resent the feeling of sitting down for a few hours of writing, and just prefer to record their talk(s) and create a podcast. These days, it is very simple to do that. You just create an audio memo on your iPhone and upload it to your Soundcloud or iTunes account.
Your final choice comes down to self-awareness. You have to audit yourself. That’s why I recommend you to write down your strengths in the first place. It will make this step way easier.
Eventually, after you figured out the what and the how, it’s time to ask yourself:
“Where am I going to distribute my message?”
This is often the most overwhelming and hardest part for most of us. There is so much clutter in this digital world. Social media is getting bombarded with millions of pieces of content every day.
You might ask yourself: “How do I make sure people see my message?”
That’s a very legit question.
UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT
The first thing you have to realize is that every social media platform is unique. Facebook is different from You Tube, You Tube is different from Twitter and Twitter is different from Instagram. Many people think that it is great to make a piece of content – whether that is a blog, podcast or video – and then just distribute in the same way across all channels. Nothing could be less true.
To start solving this question yourself, I highly recommend you to read the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuck. Gary will teach you how to contextually spread your message on all these platforms and create tailored-fit content. You will quickly realize that every social platform has its unique audience and characteristics.
WHERE IS THE ATTENTION?
In this digital age, it is not only an obligation to understand all social media platforms, but also to know where the attention of your target audience is.
Let’s say you are a fashion blogger and you want to spread your piece of content to young fashionistas. A great way to do that might be to look at Instagram and reach out to influencers. These are the people with millions of trustworthy followers that can potentially share your message.
The point is this: you go where the attention of your audience is. People who love fashion most probably follow fashion influencers on Instagram. Ideally, that’s where you want to be. It will take effort and courage to reach out to these people, but if you really want your message to be seen, you’ll have to work for it.
This was a simple, 3-step guide to start a personal brand.
Everyone has to go through these 3 questions (What? How? Where?) in order to build a successful personal brand online.
If you don’t, you’ll find yourself frustrated and lost. One week you’ll be writing about this topic and post it on that platform, while the other week you’ll be making a video on another topic and post it on another platform. You’ll confuse your audience. You’ll lose yourself and your message.
That’s why this 3-step personal branding manifesto works.
To end, I really want to highlight the fact that this manifesto is NOT STATIC. It’s always evolving. Maybe I realize that, in 4 weeks, personal branding was not my spiel. Or I realize that I would actually be a better podcaster in stead of a writer. There’s just so many variables that can change.
Therefore, you have to continuously keep asking yourself these 3 questions: What, How and Where.
If you want a more detailed personal branding guide, I recommend you to check out this post by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius. This document will guide you all the way from zero to the top in your niche. I really hope this can help you along your journey to become a stronger online brand, with a clear message and intention.