Quite a few people are searching for “how to brand yourself” on Google. In fact, over 75,000 searches a month are for some form of personal branding advice. We found many sites on personal branding tell us we need to become experts at something while having an interesting personality. It’s like saying you need to be an expert at handling a ball and 7 feet tall to play basketball. Does it really need to be that difficult?
Your brand may not be well known or extremely valuable, but, if you exist online, it’s there. A brand is a name, symbol, or feature that identifies a seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. So, your personal brand consists primarily of your name, recognizable physical features (face), and unique actions or behaviors.
If you were to really brand yourself in the literal sense, you would either make a symbol or logo to identify you, or just get a branding iron, heat it up, and burn a mark on your–you know where. Both options are, in most cases, inadvisable. The question we are really asking is more likely to be one of the following:
How do I manage my personal brand? How do I enhance the value of my own brand? How do I increase my brand recognition?
Before we attempt to answer these questions, let’s go over some key concepts.
Your Brand Experience
All things represented by your brand–actions, thoughts, presentation–go into “experiencing you”, or the interaction between you and a potential client. The value you impart during this online interaction is critical. An interaction could be anything from a Twitter post, or a LinkedIn profile, to a blog article. Users may also experience you via your product or service and attach certain feelings, thoughts, or behaviors to that experience.
You might not think about it, but the process of searching for you on Google and reading through your search results is an extended part of your online brand experience. You can use tools like BrandYourself to manage your search results.
- Focus on your value proposition, which is your promise to the world about what value we can expect from your brand. Simplify your social profiles, and clean out statements that portray you as a “Jack of all trades”.
- Enhance your marketing messages online so they all complement each other on what you do that’s valuable. A cohesive front goes a long way in forming a clear image of you.
- Censor what you say online. This has been said a thousand times before, but professional entertainers and famous personalities continue to break this rule every day. We’ve been mistakenly told to be “real”, transparent, or honest online. That doesn’t mean you speak with followers in slang, or with profanity, or insensitivity.
Your Brand Identity
The aliases, images, websites, and content you use online make up your brand identity. The importance of a professional website, and professional logo, cannot be overstated. It’s easy to see when someone puts cost over quality when it comes to website or logo design. Ubiquitous web templates, generic or fluff content, and half-assed logos will give the impression that your business isn’t any better.
- Have meaningful, and appropriate user names
- Invest in a professional WordPress website
- Take the time to thoughtfully complete profiles
- Have professional photos taken of you and use them on profiles
- Get an editor to proofread and edit your content
- Use a professional email signature
Your Brand Recognition
You may be good at what you do, but if people aren’t Googling your name, how will they know? There are a number of ways to get your name out online. You should have profiles on all the major social media platforms, and have them linked to your website. If you don’t have a website sitting on your own domain name, you’re missing an opportunity to showcase who you really are.
- Make sure you own your name across as many social platforms as possible. Use sites like Knowem to see what’s available.
- Get involved in your industry. LinkedIn Groups are a good example of involvement.
- Build relationships on Twitter, LinkedIn, and industry specific sites.
- Monitor your Google search results and strive to control most of the first page real estate for searches of your name.