“You’ve got to build your personal brand.”
Chances are you’ve heard some variation of this advice recently, right?
From marketers to creators, the concept of personal branding is all the rage right now. This makes sense considering that consumers today crave connections and authenticity.
The problem is, branding yourself can be a struggle—especially if you don’t know what your brand voice is.
That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate guide to personal branding to help.
Table of contents:
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is how you present yourself as an individual to your audience.
Think about how corporate branding works. We associate specific feelings, values and expectations with brands we trust. Every company has a story and image.
Well, the same applies to you and your personal brand as well.
“Personal branding” is sometimes synonymous with being an influencer. This does not have to be the case for everyone.
Your brand should highlight your human side. Voices and personalities set brands (and people!) apart. Branding yourself means aligning your online persona and your real-life one.
Building your brand is not simply marketing yourself (although that’s part of it). Here are the key pieces of a personal brand:
- Voice and values. That is, what you say and what you believe. Your brand voice shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all or robotic.
- Content. What are you promoting to build your following? How are you presenting it? Whether through entertainment value or education, your content is what attracts your audience.
- Creativity. You don’t need to be a creative genius to build a personal brand. That said, having some sort of creative trademark can help you stand out from the crowd.
- Personality. No surprises here! Good news: there is no one-size-fits-all personality type for your brand. Energetic? Laid back? Suit-and-tie? Great! Again, you have to do you.
- Authenticity. The concept of “creating” a persona is a turn-off for some. Your personal brand shouldn’t be manufactured or made up. Aligning your online persona with who you really are should be seamless. Once you figure out how to do it, your brand will never feel forced.
Why is personal branding important?
Fair question! Below we break down why personal brand-building is worthwhile.
Standing out from the crowd
The people who’d benefit the most from a personal brand are often focused on building something else. A company, art, you name it.
Like it or not, we’re entering an era where everyone is a content creator. That means that who we are and what we make are often one and the same.
Among the countless creators and marketers out there, growth is daunting. Our audience only has so much attention to give.
With a compelling brand and consistent content, you give yourself a chance to shine. People don’t grow audiences or garner influence by accident. Both your personal brand and what you create are totally in your control, too.
Relatability and authenticity matter to modern audiences
Recent research says that consumers overwhelmingly trust authentic and relatable brands. Apply the same logic to individuals. This is especially important in an era where “influence” can feel manufactured.
Making stronger connections with your community
Food for thought: brand alignment with personal values is more important to consumers in 2022 than it was in 2021.
Again, your voice and values are directly tied to your ability to grow your audience.
Putting your personality front and center attracts like-minded followers. That also means making connections to understand your audience’s needs and challenges. This goes hand in hand with establishing trust and making meaningful connections.
Sprout’s #BrandsGetReal research reflects this phenomenon, too. 91% of people believe that social has the power to connect people.
Examples of successful personal branding
It’s important to note that anyone can build a personal brand (hint: not just celebrities). In fact, employee advocacy and personal branding are becoming intertwined as more employees post on behalf of brands.
Here are a few examples of people who’ve built personal brands across industries:
- Founders like Sparktoro CEO Rand Fishkin. Rand’s positive demeanor, sense of style and eagerness to educate has helped him build a massive audience over the years. According to Rand himself, personal brands should be a byproduct of building (and not a persona that’s forced).
- Twitch streamers like Pokimane. Pokimane amassed millions of followers across platforms including Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram. Her self-aware sense of humor and willingness to interact with fans are her trademarks.
- Celebrities like Dwayne Johnson. Despite being one of the most famous celebrities in the world, Johnson isn’t afraid to give a peek into his personal life. He regularly replies to fans with personal and vulnerable stories.
- Politicians like Maxwell Frost. Frost is making a name for himself as the first member of Gen Z in Congress. His candid posts and sense of humor represent a new brand of politician that’s far from the norm.
How to build your personal brand in 5 steps
Now, onto the good stuff! Brand-building requires conscious effort. Below are five actionable steps you can take to get yours off the ground.
1. Figure out where your brand currently stands
Building a successful personal brand means having a following. After all, followers validate that what you’re doing is valuable to others.
But this is a sort of chicken-and-egg situation. You need followers to establish your brand, right? That said, you can’t establish your brand without followers.
So start from square one by asking yourself:
- Have many followers do you currently have?
- What communities can serve as the basis for a bigger audience?
- Where am I most active? Where is my audience most active?
- What are my goals? Followers, traffic, sales?
To avoid spreading yourself thin, we recommend prioritizing growth on one network at a time. Having a presence is one thing but actively branding yourself on a platform is serious work.
2. Brainstorm ways to provide value to your audience
Again, followers and clout don’t happen by accident.
What value you provide varies depending on your industry and audience. Generally speaking, building a unique personal brand means creating something, well, unique. New ideas and resources. That might be:
- Educational content (tips, tutorials, how-tos)
- Personal anecdotes and experiences
- Ratings and reviews on products or brands relevant to your audience
- Original artwork or music
- Fresh perspectives and opinions
- Motivational content
Heck, it could be all of the above.
In short, you need to create something that highlights your value and influence. People need a reason to follow you. Consistently creating valuable content is how you start.
3. Be consistent when putting yourself out there
Piggybacking on the point above, consistency counts.
Building your brand means maintaining your brand, too. Regularly sharing and creating content is a must-do. You can’t let your account gather cobwebs. This applies to responding to comments from followers, too.
Consistency is arguably the biggest challenge of building a personal brand.
Let’s say you have your audience split across Instagram and TikTok. As noted by how often to post on social media, different networks demand different publishing frequencies. Either way, it’s a lot of pressure to post on a regular basis. This circles but to what we said about spreading yourself thin.
Growing across networks is easier with social publishing tools like Sprout Social. Scheduling and cross-posting means you can publish to multiple networks at once. This means less chaos and no need to bounce between platforms.
Consistency also matters when it comes to your personal branding across networks. This is where your creatives like logos and color schemes come into play.
4. Prioritize trust, authenticity and relatability
Despite popular belief, building a personal brand doesn’t mean having a magnetic personality. You can absolutely be introverted or even “quiet” and still build a valuable brand.
The key is being relatable and real. That means sharing content and experiences that speak to your audience. This could include challenges you overcame or resources to solve a problem.
Before posting anything related to your personal brand, always ask yourself:
- “How does this build trust?”
- “Am I being real with my audience?”
- “Who does this post or piece of content speak to?”
If you have confident answers to all of the above, you’re golden.
5. Be conscious about avoiding brand burnout
- Don’t make personal branding too personal. There’s a fine line between being vulnerable and oversharing. Set boundaries for yourself in terms of what you’re willing to put out there. Branding yourself shouldn’t be uncomfortable.
- Don’t overdo it. When your brand starts growing, you might feel pressure to post more or create more content. That’s great! Still, don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
- Don’t overthink it. We get it: “be yourself” sounds like cliche advice. It still applies, though. That’s because brand authenticity matters and people can tell when you’re faking a persona. You’ll be much happier with the process of brand-building if you stay true to yourself.
How are you building your personal brand?
Listen: there is no rulebook for building your personal brand. That’s because it’s all unique to you.
And hey, that’s good news!
Building a personal brand can feel daunting. Focusing on legitimately helpful content in your own voice is a good place to start.
Sticking to the steps below can help put you on the right track. If you haven’t already, check out our 30-day social media plan to jumpstart your branding journey.