personal brand

BUILDING A PERSONAL BRAND in 2023

CEOs, business leaders and entrepreneurs can all benefit from personal branding.

The idea of personal brand, particularly within businesses and industries, is often a misunderstood principle. On the grounds that many liken personal branding to that of a modern celebrity, fame-driven exercise.

If this sentiment is something you gravitate towards, now is the time to reassess that. An effective personal branding strategy can have a massively positive impact on you and your business’s success.

The way you position yourself, within certain markets or alongside certain groups or individuals, can have a huge effect on your business. When developed and executed properly, a strong personal brand can bring success on many personal and professional levels.

Here, we take a look at why a personal brand is so important to business leaders, how to build a personal brand, how to maintain and protect it and how PR has a major role to play in creating a personal brand.

Why is personal branding important? 

In today’s age of social media and ‘influencer’ culture, a disconnect has grown in terms of understanding personal brand and why it is so important. A personal brand is not about how you present yourself on an Instagram account or a Youtube channel.

A personal brand is a value proposition and creating a personal brand is a unique combination of all of an individual’s knowledge, skills and experience. Aligned with a set of core values, which give you, or your business deeper and more purposeful meaning and competitive advantage.

Fundamentally, businesses and individuals with the strongest personal brands have a greater presence online and in the offline world. The best personal brands garner a loyal following

Personal brand in action 

Developing and implementing a personal brand strategy is not a guarantee of instant credibility. Building a successful personal brand is done over time.

The most fundamental aspect of building a personal brand is that it must be built around your authentic self. Your own value proposition must be genuine.

Consider Yyon Chouinard, the founder of the clothing brand Patagonia. Chouinard is one of the finest personal brand examples. As an individual, his passions for environmentalism and philanthropy are woven into the Patagonia brand.

The two are synonymous, and as a result, customers of Patagonia were massively bought into the personal brand of its founder and the brand values of the business… because they are essentially the same.

This has resulted in tremendous success for Patagonia as a business, with the company valued at around $3 billion.

Chouinard’s ‘existential dirtbag’ brand can be a lesson in aligning passions and ethos with financial and business success.

Like any compelling personal brand, Chouinard’s wasn’t built overnight. It was pieced together over decades, with actions backing up words and built upon a bedrock of expertise and the authenticity of Chouinard’s own personal story.

How to build a personal brand

Vision, mission, message and personality.

These are the core pillars of any personal brand and when working through any kind of brand workshop or personal brand development, these are the most important aspects to nail down.

When building or developing a personal brand, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your purpose
  • What do you want to be known for
  • How do you want to be remembered
  • Why should people listen to you
  • Who is your target audience
  • What can you offer them
  • What is the one thing you want to tell people and why

What sets aside the most powerful personal brand from the rest, is the ability to answer questions like this with absolute clarity of vision.

When it comes to your own brand or your business brand, there can be no confusion and no contradiction. Anything like this will be very quickly identified and put under a microscope by your customer base.

This is why working with a third-party organisation to building a personal brand is so useful.

The true value of working on a personal brand strategy externally is that an external agency can approach the task without any preconceived notions. If you try to build a brand within your existing operational circle, the process can be flawed.

The reason why it can be flawed is that individuals who know you may be so inclined as to sugar coat the process or approach it with a rose-tinted perspective. Now, this isn’t to say that everyone has something to hide, far from it. It’s more than building a personal brand without outside influence, is like existing in a vacuum.

Consider, that from the outset your customers don’t know you personally on any level. Having outside influence, instruction and strategy can help you navigate these waters.

How to implement your own personal brand

When it comes to putting your own personal brand out into the public eye, there are many ways of going so.

From one aspect, much of the delivery of personal branding falls within the remit of PR. The two go hand in hand, therefore it makes both logical and strategic sense to link up your personal branding and PR efforts.

Why this works, is that the mercurial nature of public relations marries perfectly with the need to constantly evolve your personal brand strategy and tactics.

Consider a CEO of a business. The organisation they are heading up, develops a new product or service with they intend to position within a whole new market.

A new market can be a tricky proposition to navigate. But this kind of static start can be expedited by a PR agency leveraging the personal brand of the CEO within key media, influencers and decision-makers within that new sector.

This is one aspect of how PR and personal brand can work together as a force for good. Some other tactical implementations, which can also be added by PR are:

Personal website

It may sound like an oversimplification to say a quality website is important, but it’s quite shocking how under-utilised these are, particularly for personal branding.

Ask yourself this question, do you think you are currently making the most out of your personal website or business’s web presence?

If you think the answer to this question is yes, then ask yourself these questions?

Is your SEO up to scratch? is your news feed and blog filled with new and relevant content? Is that content written for SEO and keyword ranking? Is your website ranking for keywords which are affiliated with your personal brand cause?

Your website is your window to the world.

If it were a shop front, you wouldn’t stack the windows with irrelevant items, or nothing at all. Your website has a major role to play in the development and deployment of your personal brand.

Social media accounts

Social media is a fundamental tool for the implementation of personal branding and a great way to get your message out to a specific target audience.

What’s important is recognising the benefits, and drawbacks, of each social media channel and implementing the use of the most relevant within your personal branding strategy.

The key here is the term relevant. You don’t want to be wasting time and resources on inputs which are going to yield little to no value.

Just because TikTok is available, doesn’t necessarily mean that a FinTech CEO should have an account. When looking to set up any social media account, ask yourself is my target audience using this?

But if you’re in the business world, don’t write off a channel like TikTok so suddenly.

If you’re working in AgriTech, for example, then TikTok could be a channel you’re missing out on.

#Farming currently has around 15 billion content views on the channel, with a growing trend for young farm workers sharing their lives and experiences on the social media channel.

The key to social media and self-branding harmony is in tactical alignment.

Align your chosen channel with that of your vision, purpose and goals. Make the best use of those as part of your ongoing personal brand strategy. But don’t switch off to the reality that trends change. Monitor those trends and identify new opportunities for your personal brand growth.

Content marketing

Content marketing is, in some ways, an extension of social media and website activity.

Content marketing plugs into your social media platforms and your website, but it is and should be treated as, a stand-alone tactic.

Having a content strategy sub-strand of your wider personal branding strategy is a brilliant way of planning out your day-to-day content and other aspects, such as thought leadership.

Creating content that is engaging and informative will enhance your personal branding and act as a means of engaging with existing and potential customers.

Strong personal brands leverage content marketing to tremendous effect. We’ve talked about Patagonia previously, they are a fantastic example of using content marketing to further their cause.

Another example of personal branding and content marketing is Ben Francis, the CEO and founder of Gymshark.

Francis’s own personal brand story is one of the rags to riches. The Gymshark brand and Francis himself have developed and implemented a hugely effective content strategy on their road to becoming a billion-dollar company and one of the most successful and highly recognised lifestyle brands.

Offline world engagement 

While the digital world is important to building a personal brand, the more traditional elements of offline engagement remain just as important and should never be disregarded.

If you’ve nurtured an online presence around your personal brand, that online personal brand has to match up with how you’re perceived offline.

Attending events and taking advantage of speaker opportunities are two great ways to build your personal brand offline. But it goes beyond this, you need to consider how you’re perceived in every in-person interaction you have.

Meaningful conversations don’t just happen in digital spaces, so your personal brand should be more than just an online illusion.

Media training & personal brand

One way to hone and build a personal brand is through media training.

Media training is about equipping an individual with the means to be their most confident, self. It isn’t about spin and deflection.

Media training is a crucial and, most of all, highly transferable skill which can benefit any business leader.

Media training, as a personal branding tool, can help an individual equip themselves for all manner of real-life business scenarios… and of course all important media opportunities which will help enhance and reinforce a strong personal brand.

The benefits of a strong personal brand

So, what are some of the potential outcomes of developing and honing your own personal branding?

  • Consistency in communications: a vital skill and applicable across all manner of scenarios. From speaking at an event to dealing with colleagues, writing blogs and even tweeting. Having consistency across all your online and offline comms channels serves to reinforce your personal branding.
  • Raise your profile: people are attached towards strong personal brands and our examples in this article of Ben Francis and Yvon Chouinard are a testament to this. Personal brand helps raise your profile, thus increasing your professional success.
  • Raise your business’s profile: personal branding doesn’t just have benefits for your own profile. A strong personal brand has tangible effects on your business too.
  • Bring in more business: as a result of increasing your business profile through personal brand, you can bring in more clients and customers to your business. People invest in other like-minded people.

Personal brand in times of crisis.

One of the most crucial times for a personal brand is when an individual, or business, is met with a crisis.

When crisis management meets personal brand, there is the potential there for a lot of hard work to be undone in a matter of moments. If not handled correctly, a crises can quickly destroy a personal brand, turning existing audiences against you and alienating any future target audience.

This can massively damage your brand and your business, so when building a personal brand consider how you will manage a potential crisis. These can by workshopped and honed through media training, but the best course of action is to have a crisis plan in place, should the worst happen.

How can a PR agency help build personal brands? 

Brand building is a high strategic task, requiring oversight of multiple inputs and outputs, as well as specific niche knowledge around tactical delivery.

In working with a PR agency to build your brand, you equip yourself with an expert sounding board for ideas and input. To do otherwise, as we’ve mentioned above, you can end up building a personal brand within an echo chamber, which will vastly limit the scope and reach of your own self-branding.

  • Analysing online and offline personal reputation, assessing any potential risks and threats.
  • Review and recommend a strategic approach towards media and social media channels.
  • Maintain those channels with appropriate and timely content.
  • Maintain your media presence, personally and as a business.
  • Develop a comms strategy which is in line with your brand vision and goals.
  • Develop and implement complementary content marketing strategies in line with your brand vision.
  • Create content to go into this strategy.
  • Monitor the news agenda to leverage your expertise and opinion at crucial times, positioning you as a thought leader in key business verticals, regionally, or even nationally.
  • Pen by-lines and leadership-driven editorial content, further reinforcing your personal brand and position as an industry leader.
  • Leverage their own contacts network to secure key introductions.
  • Manage your brand in times of crisis.
  • Identify public speaking opportunities and participation in key industry events.
  • Entering relevant industry leader awards, and again maximising the PR value of those entries.
  • Create presentations and speech writing.
  • Strategically aligning PR, marketing and brand for maximum reach and success.

Personal branding can transform your business and your own reputation. To ensure business success and your own reputational growth, your brand must be aligned with marketing and PR for maximum effect. Book your free strategy call with us to learn how we can cultivate a positive brand for you [email protected].