Seth Godin is a branding expert who is known all around the world for his great ideas. With books like Purple Cow and Linchpin, he's established himself as a thought leader in the world of both business and personal branding.
And, as a branding expert, Seth made an intentional choice when it came to his appearance. He wears super bright-colored glasses, all the time. So when you see an internet picture of a bald man with glasses that have yellow or fuchsia frames, you're usually looking at Seth.
Seth's glasses might seem like a silly thing to open an article on personal branding with. But they became an integral part of his amazing personal brand.
When it comes to developing a personal brand, a lot of us know the good that could come out of it. We see people with great personal brands and they get job opportunities, consulting gigs, sponsorship deals, and a whole lot more.
But personal branding can be intimidating, especially when you look around and see people who apparently have more going on for them than you do.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how to build a personal brand. No matter who you are and what your goals are, chances are a personal brand can help you get there. Here’s how to build yours.
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What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is - quite simply - how other people perceive you. Cultivating a personal brand is an intentional process of doing what you can to influence and shape how others perceive you. One of the things we do as humans is to make judgments about people - for better or worse. When we cultivate a solid personal brand, it helps to control the type of judgments people make about us. And, in the age of LinkedIn and other social media, more and more, we’re presenting that version of ourselves in the online space.
We usually think about personal branding as connected to careers, which is great. So, a career-oriented personal brand is how people perceive you in relation to your career.
Examples of awesome personal brands
- Adriene Mishler - Founder of the YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene (10+ million subs), Adriene has built an amazing personal brand around Yoga and wellness.
- Oprah - “You get a car… you get a car…” Oprah’s personal brand is a powerhouse, from her show to books and magazines, we associate Oprah with ideas mixed with humanity.
- Jay Shetty - Former Monk turned workplace expert and motivational speaker, Jay has built a personal brand around the lessons he learned from his spiritual training.
How to build a personal brand
1. Find your voice
It's easy to compare yourself to others. It's easy to pop on to LinkedIn and see the executives and career influencers who seem to have their lives together and be WAY more accomplished than you.
Maybe you get hit with imposter syndrome, "What do I have to offer?" Or maybe you're just not feeling it, "That's not for me."
Really, that's okay. The word authenticity gets thrown around a lot, but your personal brand should - first and foremost - be authentic. It should be a reflection of who you really are, a part of your true self. (It doesn’t have to be all of who you are. It’s okay to keep something for yourself.)
That's why the first step in personal branding is figuring out what you believe to be true and how you want to present yourself. Obviously, for most of us, this is a professional brand. So whether you're trying to get jobs, clients, investors, or customers, presenting the side of ourselves that maximizes our chance of success makes sense.
Just as you'd probably fill out an online dating profile with the best possible dateable version of yourself, your personal brand in the professional space should be a reflection of your best professional self.
2. Choose your niche
Oprah has arguably one of the most visible personal brands on the planet. But would you hire Oprah to do your taxes? Would you hire Gary Vee to teach you meditation?
Chances are, the answer to each of these is a resounding "no."
And it teaches us something about personal brands. Personal brands exist in a niche and a space. They speak to a certain type of person with a certain type of problem.
Politicians have very different personal brands from rockstars - but both have them.
If you are creating a personal brand from scratch, it's worth asking yourself the question, "Who is it for?"
Who do you want your personal brand to attract? You can even create a persona.
If your personal brand is meant to get you a job, you want to attract potential employers. If you're an entrepreneur and you want clients, your personal brand should convince those clients that you are the best person to help them.
Choose a niche that you want to operate in.
3. Pick a platform
When we think of personal branding, most of us think about it in connection with a platform.
Sure, your personal brand is more than your social media. Maybe you are the person in your office everyone talks to about workplace wellness - without having ever seen you on Facebook.
That's a type of personal brand.
But most people are using social media and tech to clarify and leverage their personal brand.
The power of social media is that it gives you leverage. There's no limit to how far your brand can grow.
If you become the best-known person at your company to talk to about taxes, you might have some job security and a raise. If you become the best-known person who talks about taxes on LinkedIn, you could probably start your own tax business and consult.
The difference isn't really in what you're saying as much as it is scale. Online platforms have let us do personal branding at scale.
Here are some of the platforms to look for:
LinkedIn is the place to go for all things career – it's called a professional network for a reason. LinkedIn has thousands of career and business-minded people looking for their next job, employee, investment, or customer.
Here are some of the types of people who are building great personal brands on LinkedIn:
- Thought leaders
Meta sort of encompasses two social media platforms: Facebook and Instagram. But they're owned by the same company and a lot of the back-end stuff works the same.
Both of these platforms have a lot of good things to offer creatives. If your personal brand is based on something that you do visually, whether potting plans, painting, or graphic design, these might be the platforms for you.
Also, Facebook and Instagram can do quite well for people who are sharing ideas and life tips, think motivational speakers and coaches.
Both of these platforms were highly image-based, but they've done a deep push in video. The algorithm is rewarding more and more native video these days. So if you want to make video, these might be a good option.
They do have some limitations. Facebook isn't a great place to grow groups, and its organic reach really stinks. They make you pay to reach your own followers.
But both of the platforms can work well for different types of personal brands.
Here are some personal brands that do well on Meta:
- Motivational speaking
- Career influencers
YouTube is an awesome place to build some types of personal brands. Thanks to the built-in search engine, putting up YouTube videos today can pay dividends for years to come – especially if you're in a well-designed niche.
Here are some cool personal brands being built on YouTube:
If you're under 20, you probably know that TikTok has been around for a while. If you're older, you might see it as something brand new.
But there's no question that TikTok is powerful, and we are seeing creators go from zero to millions in a very short period of time.
The musician JVKE started releasing songs on TikTok during the pandemic and blew up, today his new song Golden Hour is playing on every radio station.
Here are some of the great personal brands being built on TikTok:
- Fashion influencers
- Thought leaders
- Cat videos 😀
Your own social network
One of the things we love is that more and more creators are opting out of the mainstream platforms and building their own thing.
With new creator economy platforms, you own your voice and your brand. They don't own you.
That's why we're so proud of what we've built at Mighty. With our cultural software platform, you can build the equivalent of your own social network, bringing content, community, courses, and commerce together.
4. Build your profiles
If you decided which platform you want to get active on, you can set up your profiles. Your personal brand, positioning, and the way you present yourself, all of it will impact how people perceive you.
Don't forget that a personal brand is made up of a lot of things. It's worth putting your best foot forward on the things that you can control. For example, on your LinkedIn profile, you can control your description, the quality of your photo, your keywords, and even your testimonials – you can ask people you've worked with in the past to leave one.
Create a personal brand that's consistent with the audience that you want to reach, but - like we said in the introduction - is faithful to what feels authentic for you.
5. Start talking
Every thought leader or influencer you've seen in your life has done one key thing… they started posting.
At the end of the day, your personal brand doesn't have to be perfect to get started. Or, in the words of Zig Ziglar, "You don't have to be great to get started. But you have to get started to be great."
Having a great personal brand at some point just comes down to jumping in and figuring out as you go. If you're building your brand online, it takes time and practice to figure out what resonates with people, how to master the algorithm, and how to create content that attracts likes and follows.
If you want to master personal brand building, don't wait until you have it all figured out. Start talking and figure it out as you go!
6. Be consistent
Building a great personal brand requires consistency. Once you've decided the thing you talk about, your niche, you should stick to it fairly consistently. That lets the people who follow you know what they're going to get when they tune in.
If somebody follows you for your awesome yoga tips, and your account gets filled with rants, politics, local news, and everything else under the sun, they will probably stop following.
The other part of consistency is even more important. Keep showing up. Keep going. So many people intend to build a good personal brand, but then drop off after a couple of weeks of trying.
The people who go the distance in personal branding are the ones who build long-term, consistent reputations that translate into job offers, clients, and other great things.
7. Build your network
Last but most definitely not least, make networking a part of developing your personal brand. Reach out and meet other people in your space. Spend time getting to know them. Promote the work of others who have content that provides value to your audience.
Building a great personal brand works better when you are seen as plugged into the scene.
Building your personal brand at work
A lot of this article was dedicated to building your personal brand online, but all the same steps apply to building your personal brand at work.
- Find your voice. Figure out what you want to talk about.
- Choose your niche. Become known for something.
- Pick your platform. It could be social media, your company is probably active on linkedin. But you could also consider the company magazine, emails, or hosting regular sessions in the break room.
- Build your profile. Decide how you want to present yourself and craft that image.
- Start talking. Don't wait till you have everything figured out.
- Be consistent. Become known as the person who cares a lot about x thing (workplace wellness, healthy work-life balance, productivity, etc.)
- Build your network. Meet people across the office and represent your company in the world beyond.
We hope this article has given you a great overview of how to build a personal brand. At the end of the day, building a personal brand isn't rocket science. But it does require figuring out who you want to be and showing up.
And if you want to build your own social space, come build with Mighty. Our cultural software platform lets you mix content, community, courses, and commerce. And with our flexible Spaces, you can add in things like live events, live streaming, member profiles, discussion boards, and chat and messaging. It's a perfect place to grow and monetize your personal brand.