What Is Personal Branding? Sharing Your Skill Sets and Strengths

Written by
Sandy Diao
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6
min read

Without much effort, you can probably distinguish between ads for Geico and State Farm. Even without seeing names or logos, you’ll recognize the differences in tone, attitude, presentation, and visual style. 

Just as companies can be identified by reputation and style, so too can people. If you were given the task of delivering dry cleaning to both Mark Zuckerberg and Elton John, the odds of a mix-up are slim. That’s because they have such drastically different personal brands, down to the clothes they wear.

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What is personal branding?

While everyone can be their true selves, a personal brand is a conscious effort someone makes to emphasize specific traits of their personality with the specific intent of advancing their career or business. Your personal brand is how you present yourself to the world through social media, content platforms like podcasts, your resume, or even your clothes and attitude towards others. A personal brand can involve anything from expertise in a specific field or industry (e.g., Neil deGrasse Tyson) to what you made for lunch (e.g., any food blogger).

Why does personal branding matter?

A positive perception of your personal brand can lead to big opportunities in your career. For example, the way you choose to market your unique combination of skills, professional experience, and knowledge can determine whether or not hiring managers see you as a possible match for the roles they hope to fill. Similarly, your representation on social media and general online presence will influence the type of followers you attract, or whether you attract any at all. 

Most importantly, an audience who finds you relatable and is drawn to your personal brand will be more likely to purchase the products you sell, subscribe to the podcast you’ve created, or share your content with others. 

Considerations for building your personal brand

Now that you understand just how much sway a well-developed personal brand can have on your overall success, what can you do to build and strengthen your own personal brand identity? Start by assessing the personal characteristics that make up your individual brand and ask yourself how you can best utilize these traits to your advantage. The process for building a solid brand for yourself should include the following:

  • Find your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). What are your personal strengths and values? You can set aside some time to work on your personal brand statement, which will help bring into focus your own brand and identity. In your statement, establish what attributes set you apart from the average person, what personal goals you hope to achieve, and what motivates you to reach those goals.
  • Know your target audience. What demographics will be the most responsive to your personal brand? It’s not always easy to know right off the bat and sometimes takes a little trial and error before you successfully find your target audience. For instance, if trying to boost followers on social media, it may be helpful to first identify like-minded accounts and make an effort to engage with their followers. Experimenting with a guest post on similar accounts with crossover appeal is another way to find your audience, even if they are beyond your primary content platforms. 
  • Make the most of a variety of platforms. Don’t rely only on your blog posts or heavy-hitters like Instagram and Facebook when promoting your podcast, YouTube channel, or other projects. By showcasing yourself on just one platform, or channel, you could be limiting your audience potential and hindering your prospects for growth. Sure, not every content platform will match your brand, but don’t be afraid to experiment and get out of your comfort zone.  
  • Build authority and grow your expertise. Once you’ve identified your strengths and passions, it’s time to build on those by crafting an aura of expertise. Study up on your trade or special interests and stay on top of trends in those areas. Reinforce your authority in these topics by sharing your unique perspective on industry-related news with your audience. The end goal here is to earn your audience’s trust. Become the thought leader your audience turns to for all things related to your field of expertise.   
  • Be accessible. If a personal brand falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Unless you’re actively making yourself and your brand known to others, very few people will know you exist at all. That means putting yourself out there and networking both online and in the real world. There are a number of ways you can go about this. Brand visibility can be as simple as being more participatory on social media channels, commenting on relevant posts, joining virtual roundtables, and engaging with followers. Having an accessible personal brand includes mingling with colleagues at conferences, conventions, and other in-person events. 
  • Maintain consistency. Stay true to the style and voice you’ve established for your personal brand. This applies to every aspect of how you communicate with your audience. If so far you’ve presented yourself as solemn and reflective, don’t suddenly shift to sarcastic and humorous. That’s because your audience wants to feel that they know who you are, and a sudden about-face in your communication style can be jolting. While it’s perfectly natural for brands to experiment and change, be mindful that you never drift too far from your core values and motivations. 

What are the benefits of personal branding?

Yes, effective personal branding generates leads, but so many other positives can come about as a result. No matter your personal or professional goals, everyone can benefit from having a consistent and well-developed personal branding strategy. 

  • Builds trust. By sharing your thoughts and expertise with your target audience and giving them a glimpse of your personality, you become a voice they feel they can rely on. Once your audience feels that they understand you, they can then trust you. 
  • Signals authenticity. Authenticity is the cornerstone of building trust with your audience. Striving to create an authentic personal brand means letting your audience in on what motivates you. Be relatable!   
  • Helps you stand out from the competition. The internet is a noisy place full of incredibly short attention spans. You’re more likely to attract potential clients, hiring managers, and the internet at large when you play up your unique selling proposition and individual voice. 
  • Builds important relationships. As you promote your brand, the connections you make with peers and other individuals who share your interests can later be leveraged in ways you could never imagine today.     
  • Develops value. The relationships you build with your audience and peers can elevate your individual standing as a sought-after voice in your field, which then gives value to your personal brand.
  • Creates opportunity. The way you choose to tell your personal story has the power to attract potential clients, employers, subscribers, and anyone else whose attention you hope to grab.
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Written by
Written by
Sandy Diao

Director of Growth at Descript. Former growth, marketing, and strategy at Facebook, Pinterest, Indiegogo.

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Sandy Diao

Director of Growth at Descript. Former growth, marketing, and strategy at Facebook, Pinterest, Indiegogo.

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