What is personal branding?

career development personal branding Jan 15, 2020

I was having coffee with a friend I’m in a mastermind with this week. She shared that she wanted to build her personal brand but didn’t know where to start. I really paid attention to the questions she was asking and I realized - I’ve got to go back to the basics. 

So today I’m explaining what personal branding really is and the #1 thing you should do if you’re building your personal brand. 

So, what is personal branding?
 
So, what is personal branding?

I’ve been building personal brands for a long time now. I love diving into the intricacies of personal branding! But sometimes I forget that people just want to know things like, how do I start building my brand? What is personal branding? How do I know if it’s working? And, when is it complete? So, here it goes.

Let’s start with what it is!! I’ve never been happy with the definitions of personal branding I see out there. They focus too much on social media or they aren’t helpful to someone who doesn’t know much about branding. I created my own definition that I love to share. Here it is. Personal branding is building trust by communicating the unique value you bring to your target audience.

“Personal branding is communicating the unique value you bring to your target audience.”

Let’s break that down. This definition also works as a handy guide outlining the first steps you should take to develop your personal brand. Here it goes:

Your target audience. Who do you solve problems for? That’s your audience. When you know your audience you can begin to focus your brand on what they need to know about you in order to trust you (starting to see how it all works together now?).

Next up, your unique value. What is it that you do really well? Say you are an accountant and you help clients manage financial risk. That’s great, but I bet a lot of accountants can say that. Let’s go a little further. What’s the result your clients see when you help them manage financial risk? Maybe, you work with scaling businesses and can say that you help small businesses grow. This simple switch in talking about the results you create for clients rather than how you create those results (by being an accountant and helping them navigate risk) makes a big difference. Try it!

The other key piece to the definition is to communicate! It’s not enough that you know your unique value - you MUST share it! Not once, twice, but in an ongoing way. Creating content like blogs, social media posts, videos, telling your boss and clients what it is, and showing up and delivering on your value each day at work. These are just some of the ways you communicate your personal brand. 

It’s not enough that you know your unique value - you MUST share it!

It’s not enough that you know your unique value - you MUST share it!

Now, the most important part of the definition is trust. In a previous blog post, I define personal branding without going into the importance of trust. I still believe the article is helpful, but I’ve learned a thing or two in my experience helping hundreds of people build their personal brands and it’s evolved my approach. 

Trust really is the core of personal branding. You don’t need to share everything about yourself to have a personal brand. You need to understand your target audience and what it is they need to know about you in order to trust you. This requires you to really tune in and listen to the kinds of questions they ask you. You can begin to anticipate their questions, concerns, goals and address them right away - before they ask. This sounds pretty simple but you’d be surprised how often it gets missed.

“You don’t need to share everything about yourself to have a personal brand.”

Another simple way to build trust that’s often missed is being visible. People trust people (more than they trust businesses) and they want to know the person they’re dealing with. If you have an opportunity to be on your company’s website - take it! 

I said this is about basics right? Well, here it is in its most basic form. Personal branding is about building trust. 

Ok, your turn! Tell me what else do you want to know about personal branding? There’s nothing wrong with being basic here. I’m here to answer all your questions - #basic or not. Tell me in the comments below!

 
 
 

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