A strong personal brand is an incredibly powerful tool to have in your toolkit. That’s true whatever stage of your career you find yourself in, and whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur. Discover 5 steps for how to build your personal brand to help you achieve your professional goals.
Why build your personal brand?
We all know the importance of a corporate brand or a brand behind a particular product. When it comes to a PERSONAL brand, however, there might be more hesitation.
“I don’t want to get personal, this is business.”
“It’s not about me, it’s about the work I’m doing.”
“It feels fake to create a specific personal brand.”
But if that’s how you feel, and that’s keeping you from developing your personal brand, then you’re missing a trick. Start by looking at your personal and professional goals for the future. Ask yourself whether your current image and positioning will help you achieve those goals. The answer, more often than not, is “no”.
If you’re an entrepreneur hiding behind your company brand, then you’re reducing your product or service to a commodity. It will be much harder to differentiate yourself versus your competitors. If you’re an employee looking for the next promotion, salary increase, or career pivot, then failing to manage your personal brand will reduce you to one of the 200 faceless applicants for a particular role. You’ll be easily overlooked despite your incredible expertise and experience.
As to being fake, we’re not talking about creating an artificial persona here. We’re simply curating your brand. We’re choosing the most important elements of who you are and what you do. And we’re telling a compelling story that will help you get to where you want to be.
How to build your personal brand
Let’s assume I’ve convinced you and you want to build your personal brand. How do you create a strong personal brand that feels authentic to you and helps you achieve your professional goals? Let’s break this down into 5 steps…
1. Define what ‘success’ looks like
Before you launch into creating an impactful personal brand, start by understanding what you are trying to achieve. When it comes to your personal brand, you need to understand what having a strong personal brand requires and entails; your specific objectives for why you want to develop this personal brand; and the opportunities that you’re hoping to create for yourself.
I knew I would have to intentionally steer my brand to change direction in my career. I’ve gone from being known as a digital marketing expert in the luxury and beauty sector to extending that corporate experience to working with start-ups and entrepreneurs in different industries. I’ve also added my life coaching and positive psychology qualifications to provide a more holistic personal development coaching service. I’ve become known and respected in this new area, thanks to years of upskilling, creating valuable content, and putting myself in front of a targeted audience.
2. Get clear on what you stand for
Once you know the purpose of your personal brand, the ‘why’, you can move to the ‘what’. What do you stand for? What are your core values? What are your important beliefs and how do they differ from the mainstream view? What is your bigger ‘why’ or mission, the message you’re trying to get ‘out there’ and the story you want to tell?
I believe we need to change how we define ‘success’ and, in the context of work and career, move away from the conventional definition of the corporate career ladder, six-figure salary and pension package towards a more meaningful definition. I also believe we need to move away from harmful cultural norms that celebrate being busy all the time, the 24/7 ‘hustle’, and working ourselves to the point of burnout. A new definition of success needs to reflect the importance of creative freedom and autonomy, the flexibility to manage your work around your personal life and family, and the desire do to fulfilling work that gets you jumping out of bed in the morning – prioritising your mental and physical health while you do so.
3. Articulate your value proposition
Having an effective personal brand is not just about you but about the people you’re going to help – whether you have your own business and we’re talking about your ideal clients, or you are an employee who wants to serve your team, your organisation, or your customer. Who is the specific targeted audience that you’re trying to reach and what can you offer them? What problems can you solve? What value will you create? And what makes you credible with this audience?
My primary audience is the corporate professional who, like me back in 2013, has achieved the conventional version of success in their career. They have a prestigious job title in a big-name company, a nice salary, they’re well respected… But they are looking for ‘more’. I can help them figure out what an alternative could look like. I’ll mentor them through the process of developing their own business idea and value proposition. I’ll also coach them to overcome mindset blocks and the ever-present fear of failure. My credibility comes from my own personal journey of leaving my corporate marketing job to start my own business; my brand and marketing experience; and my coach training and, by now, years of experience helping people find and achieve their own definition of success.
4. Amplify your message
It’s not enough to be clear on your message and your value. People need to know that you exist if your personal brand is going to do anything for you! You may have resistance to the idea of self-promotion. Reframe this by focusing on your bigger message, the value you bring, and how you want to help. It’s also easy to get caught up in perfecting your personal website, optimising your social media profiles, and ordering beautiful business cards. More important is effective content marketing. That means creating valuable content – posts, articles, videos – and distributing it on the appropriate channels. This involves posting on your own profiles but also putting yourself in front of new audiences. For example, consider guest posting on other blogs, writing articles for relevant publications, or being a guest on suitable podcasts.
I come from a content marketing background, so this is my ‘thing’. I started by blogging and then I’ve layered on different types of content and channels to expand my online presence. Today, I create articles, videos, audio and posts on content themes that are relevant to experienced professionals who are looking to redefine success in their life and career, and I distribute that content on my website, my podcast, and via social media – primarily via my LinkedIn profile, Facebook and Instagram – while being an active guest on other relevant podcasts in personal development and business, as well as being consulted as an expert for relevant news stories and media features.
5. Create your IP
To take your expertise and authority to the next level, consider the IP, intellectual property, that you have or that you can create. If you’re a coach and you’re using the same standard GROW framework that everyone else has been taught, why should someone work with you rather than someone else? If you’re a leadership expert and you’re using Stephen Covey’s 7 habits, that’s a fantastic proven model, but what unique perspective can you bring to the table? Can you identify your own 5 steps, or 3 ingredients, or 8 principles? Do also consider boosting your credibility with a book, a podcast, or a Tedx talk.
By now, I have a range of different models and frameworks that are unique to my approach and value proposition. For example, I have my ‘5 pillars’ framework. These are the 5 key areas that I believe are crucial to building a life outside of the conventional 9 to 5. I use this framework to plan my content calendar in my marketing. I also use it directly with clients in my individual and group coaching programmes. And I have my book, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 (new Outside of the 9 to 5 coming soon, to be based on the 5 pillars), and my podcast, Reimagining Success with Anna S. E. Lundberg.
Start building your brand
So there you go, 5 steps to building your personal brand.
If you’re completely new to this whole idea, start from the beginning and work your way through the steps sequentially. Or, if you’ve been at it for a while, do an audit of your brand and your online presence. Ask yourself where there are opportunities to get better, then choose where to focus to take your brand even further.
And, if you’d like my help, wherever you find yourself in the process today, then get in touch to discuss how we can work together to elevate your personal brand.