How You Can Brand Yourself in 12 Simple Steps
In 2002, Volkswagen’s launch of a premium, full-size luxury car, the Phaeton, failed because of demographic miscalculation, lack of understanding of target audience and weak marketing.
The launch of Barnes and Noble’s Nook eReader failed due to B&N being unable to convince their audience of why they need an eReader from a company whose specialty is book-selling, especially when Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle already existed.
Dove’s 2018 “Real Beauty” campaign also met failure at the end when their products’ packaging, done the wrong way, sent the wrong message about the female figure instead of upholding a positive body image.
Notice anything in common among all these business failures? Why did they fail to meet the demands of target audiences? How did they mismanage products that could have been useful? Where did it all go wrong?
It’s a one-word answer, really. Branding. The very lack of it caused such businesses, among many others, to fail.
What Does Branding Mean?
‘Brand’ is Old Germanic for “marking with a hot iron to signify ownership.” The term has traveled to us across centuries to give pretty much the same sense. Branding is marking so as to own something or someone, to make it stand out from the rest.
Suppose you have just adopted a black Labrador for a pet. Most of your neighbors have black Labradors for pets, too. To mark yours as yours, you will most probably get a collar for your dog, give it a name, build a place for it to sleep in and so on.
This process of “marking” that dog as your own is what is considered branding. Not by something as intense as fire or coals, but by simple techniques that say a thing or two about you, too.
Simply Put, Personal Branding Is…
- “…the sum total of impressions a customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company, and your products.” (Lucidpress)
- Your promise to your target audience.
- “…a personality that identifies a product, service or company, including a name, term, sign, symbol or design. A brand also represents the relationships between customers, staff, partners, investors, and so forth.” (Boundless)
- Your life and work joined together and shared in the form of your life’s work.
- “…the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” (Seth Godin)
- An amalgamation of your goals, interests, ethics, values, unique traits and beliefs etc.
- “…what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” (Jeff Bezos)
- Not within a company or organization but in the minds of your customers.
What Does It Have To Do With Me?
If you think that at the end of reading this guide, all you would have gained is greater knowledge, you are sorely mistaken.
Before going any further, ask yourself this: if my product/service were a person, how many friends would it have? How many people would want to come up and say hello to this person?
In fact, if anything, the question no longer remains of if you need branding yourself or not, but of how to go about it. It’s a must, no questions asked.
You ARE your brand – and that is all the reason you need to familiarize yourself with personal branding. Who you are, what your interests and beliefs are, why your goals are what they are…all resonates loudly in your brand.
So when consumers familiarize themselves with your brand, they are directly getting to know you. For, after all, every creator leaves pieces of their soul into his/her creations.
Be it a product/service you have launched, a simple business idea or someone else in need of branding, this guide can be interpreted in every sense for its underlying idea is the same: how you can effectively put yourself and/or your product under the spotlight.
Where Do I Start From?
Most entrepreneurs and business professionals start thinking about personal branding once they have launched a product/service, either prior to sales or after.
However, you can also start the process before launching any product/service, given the surety of the launch. This is more difficult than branding once your product/service has passed the launch and sales levels.
Because the tools, tips, and tricks you need to apply to begin branding your product/service only become evident once you have that product/service in hand.
Whatever the case may be, to start branding yourself or your products, you need these initial steps to brand your business:
Know Thy Self
Design by: Chelsey Elaine
What are your interests? Who do you wish to attain? How do you plan to go about it? What descriptors describe you best? You need to reflect all of this in the way you create your brand identity, for its YOUR identity after all.
A very important step in knowing yourself is first understanding how others view you. Conduct your own surveys about you. Make a list of the descriptors people assign to you. Are they in fact who you are? Think of yourself in different contexts.
How do you behave as a learner, a teacher or a professional? Are you good at giving advice or practically solving others’ problems yourself? All these personal aspects are stepping stones into creating what they call your “brand’s voice” in the business world.
Make Yourself Known
Your audience will need to know the person behind the mask. The internet is both a veil and a concealer today. If you can hide from them, you can also popularize yourself.
Your target audience will feel much more comfortable once they see the brains behind the brands. Psychological researches over the past have repeatedly shown humans making better decisions once they know what the person they’re dealing with looks like.
Don’t confuse this with racism, though. It just means that in business, you need the audacity to show yourself if you want your audience to work with you. Get some good headshots made. A smile goes a long way. Friendliness invites more customers than you know.
It’s crucial to have a voice of your own, yes. But you also need to give that voice a face.
Know Your Audience
Design by: Hamid Sepahzad
You must have seen this phrase at the beginning of every journal and article based on similar subjects. It’s because it’s the driving force behind such processes as branding. Without this, it’s worse than finding a needle in a haystack; it’s like finding one in an entire field.
You simply have to cut down to the chase to identify your target audience. Is there a product people in your locality need to get familiar with? Is there any issue they are facing with some current service? Can you resolve that issue in the form of your own services?
You can read online forums to know what customers are talking about, difficulties they are facing, suggestions they are giving, things they want, things they don’t want. Get to know them inside out. This is the clay you need to give your brand a face with.
The world of business is nothing if not competitive. But that doesn’t mean your uniqueness will have no value. Get to know how your competitors work. Find the commonalities and differences you share with them.
Can you improve on the problems consumers are facing by using a certain competitor brand? Is there any strategy you can use differently to maximize sales in your business? If so, what strategy is that? What benefits can your business offer that others aren’t?
You have to build up your brand identity keeping in view the answers to these questions, among others.
Study other successful entrepreneurs and the branding strategies they used. Top-ranked ones include:
- Barry Moltz
- Dave Carroll
- John Jantsch
- David Meerman Scott
- Dave Kerpen
- Mike Michalowicz
- John Bates
- Michael Port
Identify Your Brand’s Position in the Market
Based on your research, you will get an idea of whether the business market even needs your brand, to begin with. Of course, the whole purpose of you reading through this guide is because you think there’s a need for your particular brand.
The way you create and maintain your brand image will determine how effectively you convey your position and your brand’s need and significance to your target audience.
Share your story. Put yourself out there. These are all phrases you must be familiar with. In personal branding, however, they can seal the deal if done the right way. So if you think the world needs flying cars and your brand aims at that, tell them why.
Shout it out loud instead of livin’ it in your head.
Create a Straightforward Value Proposition
A value proposition is basically the offer you’re making to your audience, the service you are providing them with. Once you have targeted a certain audience, identify their needs and deficiencies, and provide them a value proposition accordingly.
This is how your brand will have a personality. Think again the question posed above: if my product/service were a person, how many friends would it have? How many people would want to come up and say hello to this person?
A major part of personal branding is how you develop your brand’s personality. Creating a clear value proposition is a huge step in this development. Is your brand, for instance, focusing on diabetic patients to help them combat diabetes in some way?
Creating such a value proposition is actually the step in personal branding upon which the “you are your brand” idea is based on. People will always remember those who helped them in some way. Your brand will, therefore, determine the way you will be remembered.
Select a Business Name
Design by: Tobias Hall
What’s in a name? Everything. Anything. Haven’t you ever been attracted to a name and decided to start a conversation with them? Many times, consumers will scroll through their business feed and stop at a name that attracts to them at first glace.
But it’s more than attractiveness. Your person, your brand, needs to have a name that is a mirror of all its attributes, a representative of the goods and services your business is providing.
If You Can’t Convince Them, Confuse Them
Design by: Tobias Hall
Creating a brand slogan is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do in this process. But it’s also one of the things that will get your brand the spotlight it deserves. You need to create a compelling brand slogan.
This is much like the “elevator pitch” concept used in Hollywood. When the idea behind a movie is to be forwarded, they don’t narrate the whole story, but a one-liner which has to be pitched in even if you are standing in an elevator.
Keep it short, catchy, and spicy. If you can’t come up with a brand slogan to convince your audience to use your product/service, create one that confuses them in a way that they start to contemplate on the need to do business with you.
Creating the Right Typography
Design by: Prathamesh D.
How do you mostly dress up before attending an event? First, you think of the type of occasion it is, its theme (if any), what colors would go well with the time the event is scheduled at, the appropriacy of your clothes according to the level of formality/informality…
This would be, more or less, the routine to be followed. Think of your brand’s typography in the same context, like dress-up. Use color psychology to your advantage. People are attracted to vibrant colors.
So use a bright color palette consisting of various colors complimenting each other. You wouldn’t want to mess up a lot of shades, though. Just something simple yet elegant enough, reflective of your brand image.
Aside from the name, your brand’s logo will be a true representative of your brand’s personality. Consider brands such as Virgin Records, who’s initial logo was a literal depiction of their name.
Whatever you decide to go with, just remember that your brand logo is the face you give to this hypothetical personality we are calling a brand. That face can be as welcoming as you want…or the entire opposite.
If you don’t have a clear idea of how to express your brand with colors and designs, you can take advantage of a great Printing and Designing Company like Peppermint Dev to help and guide you through the process.
Be Purposeful and Sincere
Once you have secured a personal website to run your brand from, you have to upload content on it. But it’s not as simple as it seems. Remember, your brand is a person in itself, a person you’ve breathed life into. You decide which words this person utters.
Only share content that has a purpose in relation to your brand’s identity. Customers wouldn’t want to see a brand focusing on children’s fashion talking about fascism on their online platform, now will they? The world would make less sense to them than it already does.
Keep your language style unique but yours. Don’t imitate other brands’ style. At most, you can look towards them for inspiration. If your writing feels like work, it’s not yours. A Personal brand should talk to the target audience like you yourself would.
Your brand should represent the real you. Your brand’s content, its typography, its slogan and everything else combined should represent exactly what your business stands for, nothing more or less.
According to a study, 94% of consumers claim they’re likely to extend their loyalty towards a brand that offers complete transparency itself. From the place you’re sourcing materials from to being sincere about the pricing of your product/service, branding efforts that provide transparency to customers transforms into loyalty.
Extending and Evolving Your Brand
Evolution is a means of survival for everything and everyone…including businesses. The more your brand grows over time, you higher the probability for its success in the long run. Most brands start out strong, aiming big, all clear and starry-eyed.
But over time, that vision becomes tainted. They start putting less and less effort in maintaining the life-force in their brand’s image until it dies down completely. Your brand is a person in itself. As such, this person needs the energy to stay alive.
You have to provide the fire to keep the flame going.
Keep posting relevant details on your online platform. Connect to a wider public continuously. Stay connected to the ones already a part of your business. Listen and respond diligently to your consumers’ needs. It’s not just about promotional ads anymore.
Branding yourself consistently is considered to increase revenue by 23% on average. Therefore, consistency and repetition will serve as the wheel and clog if you wish your branding efforts to be successful.
It’s through a consistently presented brand that over time, consumers begin to internalize your brand values, ultimately becoming more likely to purchase.
Once you provide the fire, you have to keep stoking it, too.
Don’t Forget the 7 C’s of Communication
Everything has its own discourse, that is, a context, a setting. So does your brand. While conveying its message, don’t forget to use the 7 C’s of communication in the language with which you post your brand’s content. These are:
Personal Brand Statement
At this point, you must have been finished with the above steps. You have got yourself a brand name, slogan, logo and the rest of the typography. You know your target audience. Now you have all the necessary information requires to start a brand.
Now it is time to make your personal brand statement. It should look something like this, as shown in this template:
I’m a [your introduction]. I offer [the product or service you’re offering] for [audience you’ve targeted] to [your product’s or service’s value proposition].
Another way to go about this is using a template like this:
Unlike [your competitor;s name(s)], we [that unique trait differentiating your brand from theirs].
Your brand is the hand that guides your business home. It’s the how, who, why, what, where and when of your whole business. In today’s competitive business market, if there’s one thing that can prolong your business’s successful lifespan, it’s branding. Now that you have a better understanding of how to brand yourself and your services, I would like to know about your thought as well. Tell us, how do you plan on branding yourself? We would love to know more about your perspective!