Personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility.
Branding is what gets you noticed and remembered.
It’s what sets you apart from the crowd.
And unlike the vast majority of online marketers, you need to take charge of your own branding rather than thinking it will somehow magically metamorphosize on its own.
Rule #1: Be Memorable.
People need to remember who you are.
There are 8 billion people in the world, and about 99.99% of them are completely forgettable. How are you going to stand out??
Each person can remember only about 200 people in their social circle. In order for YOU stand out in their memory and be in that group of 200, you’d better find a way to stick out and stand apart from the crowd.
You need to be MEMORABLE, because being memorable means getting picked. If you’re not memorable then you are forgettable. You’re not even under consideration because people don’t remember who you are, what you do or even that you exist. Even if there is some slight negativity to how people are remembering you, at least you are being considered.
“To become ‘memorable,’ do things that are somewhat unexpected. Dress, or talk in ways that draw attention. And mostly, don’t follow all the ‘rules for behavior’ so closely.” – Jeffrey Pfeffer
Most people are conformists and follow the rules of behavior that others expect. But if you want to be memorable, you’ve got to be different. Wear the bright ties or the fun hats. Use your native accent rather than trying to suppress it. Fill your office with pictures of your favorite animals. Cultivate your own enthusiasm and exuberance. Focus on making everyone around you feel great.
Whatever it is that sets you apart and makes you memorable, as long as it’s authentic to you, do more of that.
Most companies focus on brand perception – how do consumer view their brand? But if you don’t have brand awareness, then people won’t think of you at all. That’s why brand awareness is significantly more important than brand perception.
It’s more important that people are aware of you, your business or your product than what exactly they think of you, your business or product. You’ve got to find ways to stand out and get noticed. Otherwise, you’re just going to blend into all the other people on Facebook, on YouTube and so forth.
Rule #2: Align yourself with powerful people and powerful brands.
You want to align yourself with those people in your niche who have a lot of power, a large following or a lot of reach. Who are the movers and shakers in your area of expertise? Or more importantly, who is your target audience already following?
You can go to SparkToro and for free, instantly discover what your audience reads, watches, listens-to and follows. Find out your target audiences’ influencers, podcasters, YouTubers, authors, publications, brands and associations that already have influence among your target audience.
Then take your personal brand and tie it to the brands your target audience is already following.
You’re creating an association in your prospects’ minds, so that when they remember XYZ brand, they also remember your brand.
Sneaky, right? But it flat out works.
One of the fastest ways to build your own brand is to align yourself with other powerful brands, influencers and publications in your niche.
Rule #3: Have a strong point of view
If you’re hoping to please all of the people all of the time, no one will ever remember you.
But if you take a strong stand that polarizes people into or out of your camp, you’ll create a loyal following that pays attention to everything you do.
You’ll also make some enemies, too. Be ready for conflict because some of the people who do not agree with your point of view will be ready to tear you down to try to build themselves up.
The best route when dealing with this conflict is to never say anything bad about the people who disagree with you. Yes, you can most definitely state why they are wrong, but do not under any circumstances call them names or belittle them or their views in any way.
When you have strong opinions, those people who think or believe as you do will gravitate towards you, consume all of your content, share you with others on social media, and defend you vehemently. You are building a tribe, which in marketing terms means your loyal following will be pleased as punch to hand you their money at every opportunity you give them.
One thing: I wouldn’t recommend taking a stance on something you do not feel strongly about. Choose your positions wisely and realize you might be talking about them a great deal for a long time. Be authentic to yourself and your beliefs.
If you choose a topic you don’t feel passionate about, you will burn out quickly. But if you believe in what you say, you can go the distance and even become something of a celebrity in your niche.
Rule #4: Grab Guest Spots on Podcasts
If you have something unique to say that interests people, you can get guest spots on podcasts. And some of these podcasts have huge audiences who faithfully listen week in and week out.
Imagine you’re on at least one podcast each week and each podcast has an audience of 10,000 or more.
In a year you can build a very large following. Offer everyone listening to the podcast something special they’d love to have. Give it to them for free in exchange for their email address or even their phone number for SMS messages.
You’re aligning yourself with these popular podcast hosts to ‘borrow’ their credibility with their audience. Some audience members are so loyal to podcasters, they’ll buy anything the podcaster recommends, which in this case will be you and your products or services.
Rule #5: Energy and enthusiasm rule
People like high energy, enthusiastic and empowered people.
Think about listening to two people. One speaks in a monotone and appears tired. The other one radiates energy and enthusiasm.
Who do you remember the best?
If you’re being your authentic self while doing something you love, energy and enthusiasm will naturally come through in everything you do.
Rule #6: Status matters more than where it came from
When it comes to branding yourself, the title is more important than where it came from.
For example, the president of a tiny company is held in higher esteem than the marketing manager of a huge a company.
It’s not so much where you worked or where you went to school; it’s the title or credential you can give yourself that counts the most.
Which is interesting… you could start a one-person company, name yourself the president and / or CEO, and you’ll sound like a more important person than one of the many vice presidents of a large business.
You might even confer upon yourself a title that sounds somewhat real but is in fact completely fictitious. The Godfather of Soul, for example, or The Queen of Marketing.
If you do choose a name to give yourself, be sure you can live with it for a very, very long time.
Rule #7: Self-promotion is key
When you accomplish something, tell people.
This isn’t the time to hide your light and hope someone else tells people what you did. Don’t brag but do reveal your successes so that others can use this knowledge to help themselves.
Remember that self-promotion helps to build your brand. Celebrate your successes and achievements and use them to help others learn how to do what you’ve done.
Rule #8: Fashion matters
When you’re building your own brand, what you wear matters. Decide ahead of time what look you’re going for and maintain this look throughout all of your videos and social media posts.
Distinctive clothing, hair styles or facial hair can help to build your brand. Things like generic t-shirts and generic suits do not.
Elton John wore crazy big sunglasses for his branding. Sally Jesse Rafael wore large red glasses. Michael Jackson wore one glove. You get the idea.
In the 70’s or 80’s there was a guy who did infomercials for his information products while wearing a suit covered in question marks. While I no longer remember his name, I still remember him and those crazy suits of his.
And if he were to show up on my television today, I guarantee I would watch him again just because of those crazy suits of his.
Rule #9: Being known is more valuable than being the best
This is surprising, but one way to look at branding is that it doesn’t matter if what you’re selling is better than what your competitor is selling. Or at least it’s not as important as whether or not your prospect has heard of you or your competition.
People like to buy what they know and what is familiar. If your name has been in front of your prospect 20 times in the last month (emails, podcasts, SMS messages and so forth) and your competitor has been out of sight and out of mind, then for 80% of consumers it doesn’t matter that your competitor sells a better product or service at a lower price because 80% of consumers will go with what they know rather than doing research.
People make choices based on the things they can consider and the things they are familiar with. If they’ve heard of you and you’re a known entity to them, they will go with you.
This means you don’t have to be the best at what you do. Your products do not have to be the best, either. But what you do need to master is branding. The better you are at personal branding, the more people will recognize your brand, trust your brand and buy from you.
Then prospects will view you as the trusted authority and adviser, and they rely on you for the solutions they need rather than shopping around.
Rule #10: Video is the fastest way to build your brand awareness
You could wait for people to discover you.
You could appear on podcasts to speed up the process.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you the absolute FASTEST way to build your personal brand: Video ads.
Your brand awareness will go through the roof if you start running video ads on YouTube or appropriate venues for your niche.
You might think video ads are too expensive, but if you target correctly and you’re not in a saturated niche, it can be extremely cost effective.
One video ad can return you thousands of impressions in just hours. You can optimize for clicks or whatever your goal might be. And you can also put your new subscribers into a sales funnel that pays for the ads, too.
Still not convinced you need to spend time on your own brand? According to Forbes Magazine, here are nine benefits of personal branding:
1: You become famous among the people who need to know you
2: You minimize imposter syndrome because you’re authentically your best self
3: You attract opportunities and people you need to reach your goals
4: You increase your energy because you’re authentically yourself
5: You amp up the joy factor because you’re aligned with who you are
6: You grow your own wealth because you not only get more opportunities, but you can also charge more for your brand, just like Starbucks charges twice as much as the café down the street
7: You take control of your career or business because you have leverage and can choose the opportunities you pursue
8: You achieve your goals through the power of your brand
9: You increase your confidence and self-assuredness