Pause for a moment and consider the following:
Are you a brand?
Would you like to be a brand?
Personal branding is the process of an individual developing themselves and their careers as a brand. An effective personal brand requires solid, cohesive self-packaging. To create a recognizable image under personal branding, many celebrities apply their names directly to their ventures. This strategy has been hugely successful for many, though by no means do you have to be famous to develop a personal brand. To begin, all it takes is a decision to start one.
Jessica Simpson hawks albums, hair extensions, body care products, outerwear and a line of shoes almost seamlessly because the merchandise is branded as being an integral part of her California glamour girl lifestyle.
Donald Trump builds high-rise residences, hosts a successful television show and has authored multiple best-selling books. A key to Trump’s success with his personal brand has been a no-apologies attitude coupled with the voyeuristic look he offers the public inside his moneyed lifestyle. He has cultivated an image over the last three decades that revolves around outrageous investments, gutsy comebacks and a knack for always returning from the brink richer than before (he filed business bankruptcy in 1991 and narrowly escaped personal bankruptcy that year, as well).
Though these two celebrities reside on opposite spectrums from one another, they realize the power that comes with cultivating a powerful public image. Whether you love or hate them, they’ve smartly built empires of diverse offerings that earn healthy returns based upon their own likenesses.
1. Ask yourself about what characteristics make you unique.
How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Differentiation is the source of competitive advantage. Pick out the five people in your field that you admire most. Make a list of characteristics that will define you as a brand. Then, decide what you can you do better or differently than them. It’s not necessary for the differences to be extreme. Rather, the goal of differentiation is to develop an approach that is viewed by your customers as being unique in some way (packaging, presentation, voice, etc.) when compared to other options.
2. What is your greatest strength?
Are you a blogger that’s wildly outspoken and not afraid to share your views, even if they have the ability to divide and polarize an audience? Do you have a knack for developing amazing merchandise and art? Does your shoe collection incite immediate envy? Do you have a unique way of dressing that people just can’t get enough of? Do your how-to articles incite constant praise? If you’re unsure of your greatest strength, don’t be afraid to get feedback. We each have one lurking beneath the surface!
3. How can these strengths contribute to reinforcing your brand?
Your strengths can easily lead to bigger and better opportunities but to do so, you need to determine what your desired outcome is. Consider all of the energy it will take to establish a personal brand. What would you like in return?
As an example, I promote my art and graphic design regularly on Nubbytwiglet.com and have gained a healthy freelance clientele in the process. Sea of Shoe’s Jane Aldridge shares photos of her vast shoe collection and impeccable knack for styling and these tasks reinforce her goal of eventually being fashion editor or shoe buyer. Gala Darling shares her timeless advice and a plethora of how-to articles. In direct response to these efforts, she makes a living as a writer.
4. Use the feature-benefit process.
For every feature you provide, what benefits will you earn? Make sure that you feel like your time and effort are netting measurable results that you feel good about. If your relationship turns into all giving and no receiving, burnout can set in. The happier and more inspired you are, the better your content and enthusiasm tend to be.
For example, do you make a conscious decision to deliver fresh, unique content to your readers every day? If you do, they develop a routine of checking your blog regularly and in return, you earn a steady flow of traffic. Do you listen to customer requests and actively develop products based on their needs? If you do, they will view you as a thoughtful and caring business owner.
5. What would you like to be known for?
What’s your message? Are you aiming for a positive, inspiring voice that motivates and helps your readers like Gala Darling? Or, will your tone be hilariously over-the-top and sarcastic like Michael K of Dlisted? Perhaps your goal is to create an autobiographical peek into the ups and downs of your everyday life like Heather Armstrong of dooce. Part of the reason these bloggers are so successful hinges on their consistent voices. Readers always know what to expect.
As a side note, before moving forward with your personal brand, an important point to consider is that online, you are what the web says you’ve done. Give some serious consideration about what you’re putting online. It’s permanent. Google archives everything you’ve done online. It does not go away. Does your persona on the internet mesh with how you’d like to market your brand to the world?
Once you’ve decided to cultivate your personal brand, the next step is to apply a few key elements to your marketing efforts.
1. You should be able to describe your business in less than 10 words.
If you run into someone and they ask what your busines is about, you should be able to outline it very quickly. The message should be clear and concise. As your blog grows, it’s completely normal for your message to require regular refinement. As an example, if I had to describe Nubbytwiglet.com in 10 words or less, it would be summed up as an aesthetic approach to art, design and marketing.
2. Do you have a tagline?
A tagline is a slogan that supports a brand’s premise. It reinforces a person’s memory of what your brand about. The goal should be to use the least amount of words with the most impact. Here are a few shining examples:
Steve Pavlina’s Personal Development for Smart People is a reminder for people to be aware that it takes hard work and dedication to live more consciously.
Tim Ferriss’s Lifestyle Design evokes the possibility that we can turn our lives into anything we want to.
Tina Su of Think Simple Now also keeps her mantra simple with Creativity, Clarity & Happiness.
3. Have you developed an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a summary of an idea or product. A typical pitch should literally take no longer than an elevator ride. A 30 second summary should cover who you are, what your product or service is and how it can benefit your customers. You never know when an opportunity will arise, so be prepared!
4. Create a distinctive logo.
A logo immediately gives your customers some definitive clues about what your brand is (and what it represents).
Two simple logos: Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas and Nubby (me).
Some keys to remember when designing a logo are:
1. Keep it simple. Only include elements that are absolutely necessary.
2. Your logo should always work in black and white first. Web 2.0 reflections and transparencies are not required!
3. Your brand name should be easy to read. Otherwise, what’s the point?
4. If possible, achieve symmetry in your design. This way, it can be repeated and turned into a pattern for branding purposes.
5. Your logo should be defined and easy to read at 50% of its original size just as easy as it is at 200%.
The best part about being in control your own brand is that you are in charge of your destiny. You’re in charge of you. Changes can be implemented rapidly. And, the payoffs for being successful mean more because you’ve built the brand yourself. The success is yours.