How Personal Branding can support your business
When thinking of branding, many people are quick to think of logos and colour palettes, maybe brand guidelines and tone of voice documents. These tangible elements are certainly part of a brand, but as we’ve discussed before, a brand is so much more than that.
If you were to think about some of your favourite brands, you’ll probably find that the ones that spring to mind are those that make you actually feel something. Whether that’s because a particular advert made you laugh, you’ve liked the way the brand interacts and represents itself on social media, or maybe simply that you had a great, personal response when dealing with a representative from the brand on the phone. It’s that sentiment that really defines what a brand is, rather than just how it looks.
Evoking an emotional response helps to build connections – and hopefully positive connotations – with your brand in the minds of your audience. Conversely, those brands offering the very same product or service that don’t manage to make those connections will be quickly forgotten or disregarded. Personal branding can certainly support with building these emotional connections.
Consider the Why
So let’s start by going back to… ahem… Square1. When considering your businesses brand, you should start with the why – why you do what you do. Importantly, this shouldn’t be commercially led. Your why shouldn’t be “to make loads of money”. That might (or might not) be what success looks like to you. But at most it’s a goal, it’s not why you exist.
If it’s not something you’ve actively considered before, getting to your “why” might take a bit of time and effort (and Square1 could certainly support you there!). Many companies start out with the best intentions and a clear why statement. But over time, if it’s not kept central to the everyday operation of the brand, the why can be forgotten in favour of commercial goals. In marketing communications the why can often be superseded with the what – “what we do”.
Having a focus on your own personal brand, and of others within the organisation, acts as a great lightning rod to keep you focussed on the why and keep your messaging on track. After all, you and your people are what bring the brand to life, so those core why values of your brand should be shared personal values of your people.
With the continued rise of social media, the vast majority of us have something of a personal brand already, whether we think about it in those terms or not. The difference with a considered personal brand is ensuring that it helps tell your story and that the way you present yourself to the world is authentic (which, let’s face it, we all know can be in short supply on social media).
The benefit of a focus on personal branding is shared by both the business and the individual. The individual can demonstrate their expertise and receive the kudos that they deserve and, in turn, improve the perception of the businesses brand by association.
Get social, be memorable
Social media is the main place that you’ll be growing and developing that personal brand as it offers the chance to create connections with a vast array of people, have two-way conversations to build those relationships and maintain a consistent presence.
Your personal branded communications should include your thoughts and feelings on the industry that your business brand operates in, but should also demonstrate your personality. It’s that personality that will make the difference, provide real connections and make you memorable.
Format (e.g. written post, imagery or video) is less important than the content itself, and you should use the format that you’re most comfortable with. But it’s worth having a go at a range of content types to see what resonates with your audience to find the best way to demonstrate your personal brand.
The human touch
Being human in your posts is the best way to develop a personal brand that people will want to follow. Again, it’s important that the human element is authentically YOU!
We’re all human and we all have our own individual ways of interacting – this should be the case in how you present yourself. If you try to be something you’re not, people will eventually recognise this. You’ll contradict your own personal brand, the work that you’ve done will be undermined and you’ll lose the trust of your audience.
The business perspective
It’s worth reiterating that while you’re representing yourself, as we previously said, you’re also representing your business and it’s brand.
With that in mind, you should of course consider your company’s social media policy and remember that simply sticking “all thoughts my own” in your bio doesn’t give you a get of jail free card.
Your company may not look on you favourably if you choose to broach controversial topics which could be interpreted externally as the businesses official line. And it’s also highly likely that your company has a robust social media policy that you’ve agreed to adhere to as part of your employment contract.
So, while you need to be authentically you, you also need to make sure you think about the implication of your own “personal brand” posts could have on the wider business brand.
All that being said, many businesses would be delighted if you embrace social media and the power of your personal brand in order to promote the business. It’s a win-win if the right balance can be struck.
Where to focus
This all depends on the type of business that you’re working for and what sort of content you’re comfortable with. For those in the B2B space, LinkedIn remains the pinnacle of social media and has seen an upsurge in people making the most of their personal brands to really build successful business development machines. As anywhere else, originality (and, as we’ve said authenticity!) is key to stick out and be memorable.
Other social channels may be more appropriate for those operating in a B2C environment. You may find that Youtube feels right to use as your core platform, because you like making videos, or that Instagram works well as you’re a keen photographer. Be present in the areas that are appropriate, and consider having multiple outlets for your personal brand to maximise reach as you would do with any other brand. For example, you could follow some of our content marketing tips to get the most out of each of your pieces of content by creating multiple pieces from one topic.
Ultimately, treat your personal brand with as much respect as your businesses brand. Take the time to come up with a coherent strategy and open yourself up to discussion with your audience. You might be surprised at just how much of a difference this could make to your business performance. And if you need any support, let us know.