What is Personal Branding?

10 minute read

What is Personal Branding?

Personal branding is the intentional effort to promote yourself in a way that establishes credibility and builds authority. Over time, personal branding can be used to position yourself as a leader in your niche. It is the act of  building your personal brand.

What is personal branding?

Your personal brand is what you are known for; today that's usually online. It is the impression others form when they think of you; an amalgamation of interactions, experiences, prior knowledge, public opinion, personality, reputation and more that is associated with your name.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, established executive, or recent graduate, your personal brand will dictate your opportunity. When somebody Google’s your name, the few seconds someone will spend looking at your search results will cement their first impression of you. Positive search results will encourage more interest in your personal brand, while negative search results will drive interest away from you and into your competitors.

The following strategies can be used to build your personal brand:

How to build your personal brand:

Why personal branding matters

Personal branding is not an option. It is a necessity in today’s hyper-competitive market. People are Googling your name, and they are formulating opinions on you based on the information they find.

Your personal brand can be used to attract hiring managers, secure investment funding, grow your audience, sell your products, and even nab a first date. Branding is not reserved for celebrities or business moguls. You, me, and everyone in between should be putting in the work to build a personal brand.

Statistically, people with strong personal brands are better positioned for success.

  • 57% of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online.
  • 95% of businesses use social media in their recruiting process.
  • 77% of potential employers use search engines like Google to screen their candidates, and 35% of these employers admit that they eliminated a candidate from consideration based on the information they found online.
  • Global executives attribute 45% of their company’s reputation to the reputation of their CEO

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Regardless of your career stage, someone is researching you online. If you’re an entrepreneur, it could be potential clients. If you’re a CEO, it could be your employees. If you’re a job seeker, it could be a recruiter. The list goes on.

The amount of time you dedicate to your personal branding will make a huge difference when it comes to reaching both your career and personal goals. Don’t lose out to the competition because you didn’t spend enough time cultivating your brand.

How to build a personal brand

Building a personal brand can seem overwhelming at first, especially if you are starting from scratch. But it doesn’t have to feel that way. If you break it down into smaller, more manageable steps, you can start to see your brand grow and take shape over time.

Even if your brand is established, it is still helpful to revisit some of the early steps in brand development to make sure that your brand is still correctly reflecting your values, especially if they have changed.

Audit your search results

Before you can even start brainstorming your personal branding strategy, you need to assess what already exists about you online. Are you dealing with negative search results? Were you the key player in a corporate scandal? Are your search results overpowered by someone else with the same name?

Thoroughly research your search results and work to remove negative or irrelevant content. The following types of content are particularly damaging:

  • The reference of illegal drug consumption
  • Documented alcohol consumption
  • References to weapons
  • Usage of profanity
  • Bad spelling and grammar
  • Mugshots

Claim your space

Once you’ve cleaned up your search results, it’s time to establish a presence on social media and your own website. While it’s not necessary to be active on every social media platform, you should at least create a profile on the major sites.

If you don’t already have a personal website or blog, now is the time to create one. It is an essential tool for personal branding and an excellent opportunity to publish content that is all about your brand and message. You can create a free website on Wordpress, Wix, or Squarespace and we highly recommend purchasing your own domain.

Choose a username/domain that is an exact match or similar to what people will search for when they are looking for information about you online.

Here’s a list of some of the major social platforms. Set up profiles on as many as you can to claim your online presence. Make sure you use a freshly created (never used) biography for each one. 

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Medium
  • Quora
  • About.me
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • TikTok
  • Tumblr
  • BrandYourself
  • SlideShare
  • CrunchBase

Define your personal brand

Now that you’ve cleaned up negative search results and claimed your website and social profiles, it’s time to envision your personal brand. This is the step where you brainstorm different aspects of your brand, including what you want to be known for and how you want to make a difference in your niche or industry.

Define your personal brand.001

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What makes me unique?
  • What is my vision for my personal brand?
  • Why am I developing my personal brand now?
  • What are my professional goals? How will my personal brand help me reach these goals?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What problems am I trying to solve?
  • How will I solve those problems?
  • Why would someone come to me for news/advice/recommendations/etc. instead of someone else?

Once you’ve spent some time thinking of the essence behind your brand, spend some time collecting evidence of the things you’ve already done that support it.

Make a list of:

  • Personal and business accomplishments
  • Successes and failures (focus on what you learned from any failures and how they shaped you into who you are today)
  • Recognition you’ve received
  • Awards won
  • Customer testimonials and reviews
  • Existing content
  • Unique talents

Build your personal brand

By now you should have a clear idea of what your personal brand is and what it stands for, so you can start to make a name for yourself on the Internet. The key to establishing your brand is to create quality, unique content that will rank well in search results.

5 ways to establish your brand with content.001

The following are ways to use content to establish your brand:

  • Publish unique content: Publishing unique content increases your chances of it ranking high in search results.
  • Maintain consistency: Schedule time each week to publish content about your personal brand.
  • Take advantage of different platforms: Don’t just stay in one place. For example, post on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog one week. The next week author a guest post for someone else’s site. The following week focus on Instagram, Twitter, and post another blog. Mix it up.
  • Be strategic: Make sure to always consider where your audience hangs out online. While it is important to mix up your platforms (see above), that doesn’t mean to slap your content anywhere it may land online. Only post places your audience is likely to view your content.
  • Connect with influencers: Be it social media influencers or others, it’s important to connect with leaders in your space. Not only can you learn from them, but if you are able to cultivate a relationship with a few influencers, they may share your content with their followers.

Benefits of personal branding

Personal branding establishes you as a leader in your space. Your efforts to improve your personal brand will pay off in many ways, mainly by opening doors for opportunity.

Here are a few benefits of personal branding:

  • You write your own story: Let’s face it. If you don’t brand yourself online, you’re leaving yourself at the mercy of anyone with an Internet connection. When you define your personal brand, you determine what information exists about your brand, and you can influence how people perceive your brand.
  • Greater trust: When people feel they know you and your values because of your personal brand, they will trust you more. This will lead to increased business opportunities, career advancements, and more.
  • Higher perceived value: Your brand is directly linked to your credibility. If you portray yourself as an expert in your field, you can charge more for your services and will be more likely to recover from a job loss or other downfall.
  • Upward mobility: Your brand can connect you to new people and places that you may not have otherwise had access to. This will expand your social circle and lead to opportunities that may have otherwise been out of reach.

There's no excuse for neglecting personal branding in 2020. Developing your personal brand will open doors to business, social, and personal development opportunities. The steps outlined in this blog are designed to set you up for success when building your personal brand. The work, however, is never finished. Maintaining your personal brand requires dedication and consistency, but yields long-term results.

Personal Branding FAQs

What is a personal brand?

Your personal brand is the impression others form when they think of you based on past interactions, experiences, prior knowledge, public opinion, personality, reputation, and more. Your personal brand is what you are known for.

How can I build a personal brand?

Content is the heart of any brand building campaign. Create content that is aligned with your message and goals and that reflects your best attributes and skills. Engage with others on social media.

How can I establish my personal brand with content?

A good content marketing strategy can help you build your personal brand. Publish unique content. Maintain consistency. Take advantage of different platforms. Be strategic and post where your audience spends the most time. Connect with influencers.

What are the benefits of personal branding?

Investing in personal branding can lead to a better brand story. Greater trust. Higher perceived value, and upward mobility.