If I were to ask you to think of a brand that you admire, you would probably think of one that has a great social presence and continues to offer a good product. Similar to a corporate brand, if you have a great product to offer or are an expert in a certain field, you should create your personal brand that also communicates that. A personal brand includes how you want others to see you professionally (ex. logo, color, look and feel, etc.) and what you have to offer (mentor, author, strategist, influencer, etc.). This includes your social channels, website or blog. If you’ve been thinking about how you want to present your expertise to the world then you are ready to create a professional brand.
As a young professional, I always wanted to make a mark within my industry (Marketing and PR) and frequently considered how I wanted other professionals to see me and what I brought to the table. I worked like crazy in my twenties, got some experience under my belt and then realized that I needed to define my personal brand. For me, my personal brand is so important because it introduces me when I’m not in a room, gives a quick snapshot into what I have to offer and in many cases, speaks to my character for campaigns or projects that I have worked on. Once I made time to get clarity and build out what I wanted my personal brand to represent, I learned that there were so many possibilities for me and so, I’m sharing the tips that helped me create my personal brand.
At this point in your career, you may have determined that you have something to offer in your field and that your insight and experience warrants solidifying your personal brand. Now it’s time to define that brand and increase awareness of your expertise.
Determine What Your Expertise Is
We are all great at something, even if it’s as simple as making the world’s best pancakes (well that’s not that simple I guess), so first determine what you are an expert at and what you want to share to help with creating your personal brand. I am a PR and Digital Marketing professional who’s worked for top brands including Nike, EA Sports, Warner Bros., E! Entertainment plus others and as a result, knows that my expertise in this field stems from my experience creating great experiences for the customers of these brands.
Determine What Your North Star Is
Once you know what you are great at and want to share with others, creating a mission statement can serve as your North Star when you want to give up or when you forget why you are spending a crazy amount of time on your craft. You can also use your mission statement for other parts of your brand presence. For example, you can use it as part of your elevator pitch while networking or whenever someone wants to know more about you and what you do. My mission statement stems from my pride in being able to take my years of experience on the corporate side and share productivity insights, personal branding advice, and Life & Style tips for career professionals and creative minds on my website.
Decide What This New Personal Brand Looks Like
Now it’s time to determine what your personal brand looks like to others in your industry, competitors, brands, people you network with, etc. Consider creating a mood board with pictures, fonts, words, colors and inspirational pictures that you think best illustrates what you want your brand to be. This will help when you are getting creative and determining what your website and other assets should look like. I like to share examples of inspirational mood boards on my Instagram channel (@tiffanycollective) and you can also Google or search on Pinterest “mood boards” to see what others have done to get ideas.
Once you have your mood board(s) created, you can now start to create assets for your personal brand that align with your mission statement including:
1-3 great profile images that you can use on your website/blog and social media pages
I worked with a close friend to take mine when I first started so it doesn’t have to be fancy.
1-2 logos that can be used on your digital or print presence
Websites like Fiverr.com and Canva.com are a godsend and can help you whip up a logo in no time.
A dedicated URL that you attach to a website or blog and send traffic to
I love Go Daddy because that website name is amazing and they make it super easy to secure and manage your personal URL. More on this below.
A professional email address so the right people can reach you
I currently use Gmail but they do have issues with their emails going to spam unless the recipient identifies it as a “safe” email, so needless to say, I’m looking for additional resources but it’s a free and easy option to just get started with.
Business cards that include the look and feel from your mood board
Yes, old school, printed out business cards. Vistaprint.com is my go-to for all printed stationary goods. Friends of mine have used Moo.com before and said their unique templates are worth the pricier options. Business cards are still a staple with one-on-one networking.
Your Personal Brand Is Valuable. Yell It From The Rooftops
Well maybe not the rooftops, but have a place to share your expertise. Consider creating a blog or website where you can direct people to read more about what you have to share. I first started with a simple blog on Tumblr and shared day-in-the-life posts about what I was doing for brands, at events and on panels. As I continued to expand my network and perfect my personal brand, I continued to get questions about branding, marketing and tips for amplifying a brand’s message and knew that I wanted to grow into more of a website format that included a blog. A blog or website allows you to be creative outside of your daily 9-5, on your own platform that you manage. You can also consider adding tabs if you go with a website to feature your portfolio of work which can be used on interviews, for networking or new business. Consider WordPress, Squarespace or Wix as great options.
In addition to a website or blog, create social channels where you can send out links that drive traffic back to your website with your expert articles, images and/or videos. Notice I said create social channels because you shouldn’t be posting professional info. around your personal brand on the same social account that you show your girl’s weekend photos. Let that account be @partygirl2013 or something like that, and your personal brand name can be @FirstnameLastname on social media. Again, keep it in line with your professional brand. Still be cautious of what you are posting on your @partygirl2013 social channels as what goes up on the internet, never comes down, even if you take it down.
If you can share your expertise and story visually, you should consider Instagram and Facebook. I love Instagram for anything visual, quotes or day-in-the life photos. To share daily content like tips, tricks and breaking news, create a Twitter channel. If you’re comfortable being in front of the camera and sharing ideas that require more time to explain, like a how-to video, consider YouTube or Twitch. Snapchat and/or Facebook Live (in addition to YouTube live streaming and Twitch) are great to share live events or content that you can bring your audience to in real time.
It can be overwhelming to get all of these pieces together but realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day nor was my personal brand, so don’t expect yours to be either. Take your time, make edits, additions and work in phases but whatever you do, GET STARTED. It can all be tweaked later.