Updated: Mar 28
Personal branding, aka "managing the brand called YOU," is one of the most powerful, and often, most avoided marketing practices to boost our professional power. It’s human nature to dismiss what we don’t understand and/or what makes us uncomfortable, so let’s begin by addressing the stigma of personal branding. In the decades that I have helped clients optimize their personal brands, some of the most common objections/issues/challenges I hear include:
“I don’t want to seem like a shameless self-promoter.”
“I am so focused on my creative work, who has time for personal branding?”
“There’s no way I can be like ______, they are so much more ____.”
“Personal branding is only for people who have lots of extra time (ahem, as in aren’t really working.)”
“I’m afraid to do something wrong or look silly.”
“I can’t afford to do it the way I really want to.”
“It all feels so overwhelming, I don’t even know where to begin.”
When you follow these simple steps below to harness the power of personal branding, none of these points above apply. Why? Because success lies in being true to your unique expertise, personality, and style. It’s not about how many times you post, or the hashtags you use, it’s about aligning your voice to your value and values. No narcissism, compare-despair, perfectionism, or empty bank accounts permitted.
The purpose of personal branding is to ensure your credibility has visibility, voicing not just your value, but your values to support sustainable sellability.
Let’s dive in. Grab a pen and paper or open a document to start getting these ideas down. The mind is for thinking, not storing, so get your thoughts out of your beautiful brain and into something where you can see and act on it!
Positioning is defining your place in the crowded marketplace. Begin by honing in your unique value. Answer these questions:
· What do you want people to think, feel and experience when your name comes up, work with you, communicate who you are and what you do?
· What is the purpose of managing your personal brand? Do you want to grow professionally, solidify your personal brand, redefine your work, expand into new markets?
· How do you want to be known professionally?
Personality is about articulating your uniqueness and values. Not your “what” or your “how,” but your “why.” Answer these questions:
· What you do (not just your creative art, this might include volunteer work, speaking, etc.)
· Whom you serve (sometimes this is geographic, or if you serve a specific industry/industries)
· What makes you YOU? This can include your approach to work, philosophy, creative style, and experience.
· Why (of all the professions you could have) do you do what you do?
· What could you teach? (this is one of my favorite questions to really pull out your superstar expertise)
· What can you influence? Or what do you want to influence?
· Your story (you didn’t get here overnight, right?)
· Your distinction
· Your magic (kudos to you if you were willing to go there with me on this one!)
How would you describe yourself? Feel free to have more than three answers. This helps define what you do to manage your brand, but sometimes helps with your voice online.) Examples of personality styles include:
Presence is where you voice your value and values to boost your credibility, visibility and sellability! Now it’s time to assess your current presence:
Take inventory of your online presence. Do these reflect the image you want? These can include:
· Bios on web and social media
· Social media posts
· Search results (go on, Google yourself)
· Emails/texts (yep, the way you communicate digitally is a factor)
What about your offline presence? Do the following reflect the image you want to convey? The clients/work you want to attract?
· Style (are you dressing for the part you want?)
· Conduct (do you operate in a way that commands the respect you deserve?)
· Communications (are you helping people understand who you are, what you do, whom you serve and the value of your work?) Are you too quiet out there in cyberspace?
Ok, I’ve Come This Far, Now What?
If you’ve invested the time to assess your personal brand, kudos to you! Now what? It’s time to optimize and move to new solutions. Go back to your assessment, review and take a good hard look and critically evaluate how you are representing yourself as a creative professional based on your wants and goals. It’s always best to work from a healthy foundation. Too many professionals jump to new things without going back and updating outdated things.
Your goals are distinct. Some of you want more, some want less, some want to shift or change. Some of you reading this have a great thing going on and are wondering, what’s next? Remember that you are a human BEing, not a human DOing. Before you start doing anything to optimize or build on your personal brand, do the prep work so you aren’t “spraying and praying,” but “pointing and shooting” with your efforts. Time is money honey!
For some of you who follow these steps, you might see neglected social media accounts that you want to close since you don’t have time or desire to manage them, that it’s long overdue to get that badass headshot you’ve been talking about for years, realize that your bio is outdated and doesn’t clearly communicate what you want it to, or see you have a great platform and could be posting more. Some of you reading this might decide to hire help to do more so you do what you do best, and have others do the rest. Hopefully, some of you reading this have that “ah-ha” that you don’t have to do things in a way that doesn’t fit your personality. I have to confess, I get really cringey when I hear insult-ants (that is my word for consultants who insult more than help) who have told me over the years to do things that don’t match my skill set, feel comfortable to me, match my personality or that I don’t have time or money to do. Do what feels right to you. Start small, then snowball. Quality always wins over quantity. Add new things on your terms.
We all have a personal brand, whether we are proactively managing it or not.
Your personal brand is a public perception of not just by the value of the work you do (the what and the how) but your values (the why we do what we do), and your brand evolves as your value and values do. As you grow, your experiences, thought leadership, strengths, reputation, and intentions grow too. In today's web and social-centric world, there’s more power than ever to dictate the mark you want to make. Proactive personal brand management can give you that competitive edge. Know your worth, own your worth, happy personal branding!
Photographer - Liz Vone Hoene
Prop Stylist - Risha Carnes
Wardrobe - Rebecca Weinberg
Lorrie Thomas Ross
Aka The Marketing Therapist,
is an Atlanta-based speaker
and CEO of Web Marketing Therapy Inc., a boutique marketing optimization and management firm and Wild Web Women, coaching, masterminds and conferences to help women with creative marketing businesses grow gorgeously. She is a recovering salesperson who loves to help leaders navigate marketing, guiding them on how to put the pieces of their marketing puzzle together so it clicks.