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When people hear “brand” we immediately think of the visual components: logos, colors, fonts, and websites, but when you dig really deep into what a brand truly is, it’s more about the vision, the voice, the personality behind what your offer is.
It may feel a bit uncomfortable to think of yourself as a brand, but the truth is everyone already has a personal brand. It’s the story that is told about you when you’re not in the room. What do people say about your work? What adjectives do they use to describe you?
Your story is also being told online. Building your personal brand intentionally will allow you to tell your story as you want it to be told, to establish yourself as an expert in your industry and to connect with ideal clients.
What are some ways that you can go about building a personal brand – without a logo?
People are naturally interested in other people and their stories. They want to know why you set up your business in the first place, your values, and your unique personality. Cultivating a strong personal brand will humanize your business.
For example, I was torn between having my own personal Instagram become a business account or having two Instagrams- a personal and a business. I decided to go with having Be Bold it’s own Instagram account solely for design and @macey_miller to be my personal brand reflecting on Be Bold Design Studio. To this day, I get more inquiries through my personal account than I do with Be Bold. This is because I am able to develop trust, build rapport and create connection.
The biggest piece of advice I have ever received on personal branding is from Jenna Kutcher. She spoke in a podcast how she was able to create a brand based of a few select personal stories – how she started her business with a Craiglist camera, met her husband in college, and has gone through two miscarriages. Choose a few stories for you to tell again and again over the course of the year. People tend to remember stories much more than facts. When you tell stories, you can create a connection beyond what you sell, humanize the brand, and give people a reason to follow you even if they don’t need your product or service!
If you need help with this, hire a copywriter (such as Meredith Miller) to help you develop these stories to tell throughout your your social media strategy.
Did you know 30% of our brains are taken up by neurons devoted to visual processing as compared to 8% devoted to touch and only 3% devoted to hearing? Or the fact that people have the ability to process visual information 60,000x faster than text information!
Long story short: visuals matter. As we talked about sharing stories in the point above, you can share stories through the images, fonts, colors and styles you share online. This is why I personally pay for a photographer a few times a year to have brand photos taken for my social media and blog posts. These photos authentically capture my personality while being professional, so potential clients can see what it is like to work with me.
This might seem a little harsh, but your branding now becomes less about you and more about the value you provide others. So, ask the right questions of the people who matter most to you/who you want to work with. Then create and distribute content that meets their needs. Your ideal clients are searching for sources they can truly trust and learn from – start becoming that source for them.
Your brand is easier to develop and scale via digital content, but there’s a real opportunity to differentiate yourself by also engaging people in person. A lot of people find networking uncomfortable but it’s really just talking to people—and you can definitely do that! Look for ways in which you can add value and help others and you’ll find that people will do the same for you. When people who read and share your content meet you in personal, it makes a difference.
My biggest piece of advice is just to go about building your personal brand with intention. Each Instagram post, blog post, adds another piece to the puzzle that is your personal brand. Take the steps to ensure that the image potential clients and customers end up with is the image you want for your personal brand!