Personal brands are to people what brands are to businesses.
Let me explain that. We know there there are millions of businesses that are good but it’s brands that we recall and recognize instantly.
As an individual, especially as an entrepreneur, building a personal brand is a must. When you craft an image of yourself that catches your audience’s eye, you create many advantages. Here are some of them:
- The most obvious benefit is that you stand out in a crowd. Millions of people have a LinkedIn account, but they’re competing in a crowded space. When you bring your content, website, and graphics together with intention, you’re more likely to make an impact
- As your personal brand stands out and becomes attractive, you’ll start sending the right signals for better SEO. People will click on your website and content more, you’ll get engagement, more shares, and other activities that help you rank for keywords.
- Very simply, you’ll get more opportunities to win over customers and investors
So, how do you build a personal brand? The best lessons are learned through examples and in this post, we’ll take a look at how different people have created successful personal brands. These examples will help you define your own brand and how to go about making one.
Quiet can be a brand statement
The impact that Susan Cain has made from her TED talk and book ‘Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking’ is somewhat ironic.
Here’s a person who is recognizable and has a clear influence on others. Her work validates the contributions that quiet and introverted people have to offer to the world. Cain herself is a relatively quiet person even online.
You won’t find a website under her own name and she shares her content through her Quiet Revolution blog and social media. Yet, Susan Cain is an impactful thought leader who stands out and is memorable years after her viral speech on the value of introversion. Here’s what we can learn from her personal brand:
- Be authentic and true to yourself. There’s no need to develop a false extroverted personality to have a strong brand
- Communicate well. You need to have a message for others and the conviction to share it
- Take the stage. Being quiet does not mean never speaking. Save your words for when you have something relevant and powerful to say. A person that creates a thoughtful blog post once a month will have a greater impact than someone who produces fluff daily
In fact, Ahrefs, the SEO tool brand puts out a blog post just once every two weeks but because it focuses on evergreen content, it’s a top ranker for SEO related keywords.
Have a ‘Why’
One example of a thought leader who embodies their message is Simon Sinek. Simon Sinek’s work Start With Why is about finding what drives people and what gives them purpose.
When you can figure out how to tap into people’s passions, you can meet their desires through a great product and communication.
Sinek himself is passionate about his work and like Susan Cain, he’s best known through his books and talks, especially his TED talk.
When creating your own personal brand, look at what you’re passionate about and what your audience cares about as well. When you focus on communicating a message that has great meaning, you’ll reach a wider audience and see your brand grow on its own.
Make a statement
The artist Banksy is another interesting example of a personal brand even though he may not look at it that way. Much of the world has heard of him and his artwork frequently appears on media channels. This makes Banksy an interesting example for a personal brand because even though his identity is unclear, his work is recognizable and heavily discussed. Here what makes Banksy unique:
- Making a powerful statement
- The use of a distinctive style. In Banksy’s case, his artwork is often recognized by his drawing style as well as the colors red, black and white
- As long as you have powerful content, you can let it do the talking
What we can learn from Banksy as entrepreneurs is to have a distinctive style, to make meaningful content, and to try and surprise our audience. While the art world and business arena are different, there are still good lessons to be taken from a persona like Banksy.
Content comes first
From the examples we’ve just seen, it’s clear that content needs to be at the forefront of a personal brand. We also find that this is true of the prolific content marketer Ann Handley.
Her works include Content Rules, Everybody Writes, and she also started the Marketing Profs website.
She attributes her success to content.In an interview, Ann Handley says that content comes before personal branding. It was her work in helping marketers create better content that makes her the figure she is today. Here’s her advice:
- Focus on a niche and avoid trying to create a personal brand in a large space. She says ‘Get big for your niches’
- Ask yourself what you want to be known for. It’s important to be passionate about the message you’re sharing
- When you know what you care about, do the work and make unique, helpful, and rich content
For Ann, building a strong brand is not rocket science. You need to do great work and start talking about it and your personal brand will grow on its own.
Don’t be afraid to turn some people off
Mark Manson has a remarkable personal brand that’s hard to miss. His blog gets millions of page visits and his books are New York Times bestsellers.
One of the reasons he stands out today is because he has a no-nonsense approach to personal development in all areas of life. He uses expletives in his book titles and you’ll find them in his blog posts as well. Clearly, this is not the road for many businesspersons.
But we can learn a helpful lesson from his personal branding strategy and that is to make your peace with making some people unhappy. The phrase ‘you can’t please everyone’ has been said time and again for a reason. There’s truth to it and if you embrace it can help you speak with conviction. This can make your personal brand appear authentic and resonate with a large audience.
Summing it all up
If there’s anything that shines amongst all these examples is that content matters more than personality. Some of the people mentioned here are unapologetic introverts and in one case, even use expletives in their work.
You don’t have to emulate any of them in particular but recognize that content needs to be the core of your personal branding strategy. Be passionate about your work and it will show when you share it with others.