Pepsi. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it the logo, the colour scheme or the shape of the physical product?
This identity registered in the minds of millions was created by Pepsi over the span of a century. They use these 3 to 4 elements that resonate the message they are trying to communicate throughout their marketing initiatives.
If it took a billion-dollar conglomerate that much effort, it makes you wonder about the effectiveness of personal branding. Here’s a breakdown of personal branding to show you how any individual who solves problems that people face can become a brand.
In today’s digital world, personal branding is not an ‘addition’ to your career, but a ‘necessity’.
A small business owner can create a loyal audience for their product or service via a personal brand. A travel enthusiast can build an audience fascinated by their travel escapades – how they go about it and where they have to invest is the real question.
There are two entities involved in personal branding.
- YOUR NICHE (your career, in most cases)
20% of you, and 80% of your niche.
Why should YOU be doing it?
In any industry, there’s competition. An entrepreneur, trainer, service provider, etc., there are 100s of them providing the same thing.
With your personal brand, it is possible to stay ahead of the crowd. There’s a general idea that it takes a lot of time and investment for personal branding.
It does not.
You can start by investing a small amount in the right platform and growing from there.
Who are you actually and what is the brand you can create around yourself?
The first thing you should be doing is finding your niche.
All of us have a speciality or an interest or a passion that we can exploit to our benefit in this case. Art, music, science, skills, techniques, stories, and more are at the top of the demand list on digital media.
Finding a niche might not be a problem for academicians and practitioners, as they’ve already identified their niche. For the first-timer about to start their career journey, it’s advisable to take time and narrow down on a niche.
One simple question you should ask yourself is, “What excites me even if I had to do it every single day for the rest of my life?”
Though it might sound like a cliché, this will tell you exactly where and how you should be positioning yourself as a brand.
Also, the niche you pick should be able to build an audience for you. A deep understanding of a subject would allow you to create exciting content around it.
Define Your Digital Platform
→ Your audience is the key to determining what platform might suit you best. You can decide your audience by considering these factors: age, platforms they’re on, what kind of content is being viewed in your niche.
→ After you have located your audience, find out how effectively you would be able to meet the demands of that platform. If you are going to start a YouTube channel without a professional camera and decent editing, it won’t work.
→ Say, for instance, you’re a chef, and you want to build your personal brand. You have two options: blogging or vlogging. If you think that vlogging isn’t cost-effective for you, choose to blog; but be as creative and unique as possible.
→ Dedicate some time to analyse the content of your direct competitors. Hone in on a few things, such as what type of material has worked for them.
Be Strategic And Organised
After you’ve selected a primary platform, find out how you can work in that platform. You can read a few books or take online courses and study the platform thoroughly.
A significant advantage of digital platforms is that it can be used on a trial and error basis. If one technique doesn’t work for you, you can try another method.
Before you strategise, revamp your online presence and bring it in sync with your other brand elements.
Develop your strategy based on these factors:
- Is it brand awareness that you wish to achieve?
- Are you more focused on selling your product or service?
- Are you focused on building your follower count?
- Do you want to make money online?
Your strategy will vary from channel to channel and goal to goal. Initially, you will be able to create strategies and follow up on them. Once you grow a brand, you can even seek guidance from a personal branding expert.
Social Media: A Powerful Personal Branding Instrument
Social media is powerful enough to turn you into a star overnight!
Doing a lot on social media could get tiresome as many people don’t have the time to make it a full-time gig.
Start small. If you want to be a social media expert, the first crucial step is to dedicate at least 20 to 30 minutes to update your profiles or start a conversation with your audience.
Meet like-minded people there, so that you can keep up with the trends. Whatever lessons you learn at your core job, share them on your profiles.
- About: An image platform. Easy to gain follower base if you’re sincere.
- Tone: True, casual (in most cases), fewer words and more visuals.
- Content style: Short and crisp content.
- Frequency: You can post on your feed daily by maintaining a content calendar, which might include varied content for every single day.
- About: For the older audience. Also a visual platform.
- Tone: Direct, engaging.
- Content style: Short explainer, how-to, testimonies, lectures work well.
- Frequency: Posts, even daily but do not spam with content as the Facebook feed is already too cluttered.
- About: For the professional audience.
- Tone: Professional
- Content style: if you are looking to start a mini-blog in your niche, LinkedIn is where you should start.
- Frequency: Depending upon the response from your connections, you can post. Daily updates are recommended.
- About: A secondary platform. Suitable for the audience of all age groups. Might cost a bit more to create content than the other platforms.
- Tone: They can vary depending upon your followers.
- Content style: Again, explainer videos, how-to, reviews, reactions, casual conversation type videos work best.
- Frequency: The best way to upload on YouTube is to maintain the same day every week. If your last upload was on Tuesday, upload a video, this Tuesday too. Your subscribers will know when to look for your updates.
Blogging All The Way
Blogging is a traditional branding technique that can set a particular tone for your personal brand. Anyone can blog, and blogs can be easily monetized as well. Blogs are easy to set up, but the trick lies in following up and writing regularly.
A few blogging tips:
- Always keep in mind that the blog should be relevant to your niche. Anyone who visits your blog should be sure what they’ve come for.
- If it’s not a statistic, fact, technique or strategy, it isn’t worth mentioning.
- Learn a few tricks about SEO for bloggers and how you can optimise your blog for it to rank.
- The theme of the blog should represent your brand.
- Track your results and learn ways to improve.
- Share your blog on all your social platforms.
Personal Branding: A Career Enhancement
Building your own brand means you’re willing to go the extra mile and impart your knowledge to others or showcase your talents to the world.
Personal branding can only enhance your position, wherever that might be.
- Rise to the top: Once you have an established digital presence with a steadfast personal brand in place, you’ll surely be the top consideration at your workplace as well as for your audience. There is a real possibility of promotions, wage hikes, and more opportunities when you build a personal brand.
- Explore new avenues: The ability and the possibility to chase your dreams can come true. Abundant opportunities will come your way, for example, the potential of freelancing or learning and honing your skills.
- Assert yourself: You’d be able to prove your worth via your branding activities. This will, in turn, help you to demand certain benefits such as a wage hike or a promotion. You’d be a value addition to any organisation you work with.
- Gain trust: You become a trustworthy person when you’re a brand. This will give you more chances to land leadership positions at your job.
- Increased revenue: When you’ve proven that you’re a thought leader in the industry, your voice matters. You can demand a raise and better benefits in your job.
Remember that if you want to move upward, you have to have a robust personal brand. This means, not only building a strong digital presence but also maintaining your persona at your place of work, doing your best work, and staying updated on developments in your industry.
All said and done, this takes dedication and passion. If you’re passionate about what you do and think you can dedicate your time to build something special, then personal branding is for you.
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Sorav Jain is a social media expert in India who lives and breathes all things digital marketing. He is on a mission to further the reach of digital marketing across a wide demographic and is the man behind echoVME and DigitalScholar. Follow him to stay updated on the field.