Personal brands are no longer the currency of only celebrities and CEOs. As professionals everywhere become more connected, we each need our own brand. Our personas are public whether we want them to be or not. And today, anyone can find them—be they a client, colleague, employer, or friend.
A personal brand can yield real results for a professional and their employer. But they don’t develop on their own. (Engaging in occasional social media activity is not building a personal brand.)
Most professionals need help if they and their employers are to realize the benefits of personal brands. Fortunately, the resources required to build one are available to everyone. Aside from time and effort, they are virtually cost free as well. With the support of their company’s leadership, every employee’s brand can contribute to their shared success.
In this guide, we explore how business leaders can help each of their employees build a unique personal brand. We share Liger Partners’ five “pillars” for creating one’s brand. We also share the Liger marketing firm’s methods, channels, and resources available to develop a worthwhile online presence.
What is a Personal Brand?
At its foundation, a personal brand represents one’s qualities, professional activities, and personal interests. It is a genuine, meaningful, public-facing reflection of these elements. There is nothing artificial about a successful brand.
Much like consumer brands, personal brands must be engaging and even promotional. We each must produce content and take part in conversations that cultivate a positive, interesting image. Each brand should add value for its audience as well.
In many cases, professionals don’t realize they have a brand. But our digital footprint tells others about us whether we manage it well or not. If we don’t take responsibility for what search engines say about us, the results can be uninteresting or even unflattering.
Why is Personal Branding Important for Employees?
Personal branding is the act of “owning” one’s brand. It involves a commitment, followed by active steps toward realizing well-defined goals. Starting with our foundation, we each can create a unique identity valued by ourselves and others.
Personal branding also means professional growth. That growth can help a professional add value to their brand and improve engagement with their target audience. In this way, that brand becomes an asset to that person’s audience, their employer, and themselves.
Here’s Why It’s So Important for Employers to Help
Each employee must take ownership of their own brand. But building one from scratch is difficult. Employees will value some direction from their employers even as they remain true to themselves.
What’s more, employees with successful brands can become ambassadors of their companies. “On-brand” personalities amplify the company’s reputation and drive business growth. Business leaders are wise to support employees with this in mind.
Next, we consider how employers can formally acknowledge this opportunity. In doing so, they can begin providing the resources employees need to build lasting personal brands.
5 Pillars of a Personal Brand for Every Modern Professional
The following five pillars of a personal brand will help employees build a foundation. We have written them in a prescriptive way for employees so that business leaders can share them with employees directly. Anyone can download Liger Partners’ Guide to Personal Branding for even easier sharing as well.
1. Determine the Purpose of Your Brand
The purpose of a personal brand can be described in three ways; it should:
- amplify what you want your target audience to know about you
- add value for your target audience
- support your own professional growth
Your brand should reflect your personality, values, and professional goals with these in mind. Once you have determined your purpose, it will become foundational to your content marketing, conversations, and other professional activities.
2. Make Your Personal Brand Authentic
Ensure your brand is rewarding, rather than a burden. This is essential to maintaining your perseverance and integrity. It will help you keep your target audience engaged as well.
Align your brand with what drives you by nature. Determine your target audience based on those qualities. That way, you will feel a genuine connection with your brand and your audience.
Consider climate activist Greta Thunberg. Her personal brand is nearly synonymous with climate activism. Her cross-Atlantic, carbon-neutral journey by boat made headlines globally. It’s a great example of how a cherished experience can contribute to one’s brand.
3. Separate Your Brand for Your Target Audience
Every personal brand needs a target audience. (They are similar to consumer brands in this regard.) HubSpot’s “Characteristics of a Target Audience” has insights into identifying your own.
Consider how you would like members of your audience to describe you. Seek out other thought leaders in this space to understand their brands. Work to distinguish yourself from these individuals.
Channel the personal qualities and interests that you and your audience value most. This way, you will value your experiences as you produce meaningful content for your audience.
4. Add Value to Your Brand Through Experience and Growth
Successful brands represent value. That value comes from your efforts, insights, and experiences. Examples include attending a thought leadership seminar or exploring abroad.
Neil Patel is a famous example. His marketing insights are valued by thousands. He honed his expertise through dedication and professional growth.
Start with growth opportunities within your organization. These may include leadership programs, talent training, or offsite events. Each of these experiences can add value to your brand.
Then, leverage those experiences to bring value to your audience. The more unique the experiences, the greater the potential value. These experiences needn’t be revolutionary to help your brand stand out.
5. Create Content That Connects Your Audience to Your Brand
Content is essential to successful personal brands. We’ve shared several elements that contribute to a personal brand. But the “living,” public-facing element of your brand requires content.
Fortunately, there are dozens of channels you can use to produce and share your content. These include:
- your social media accounts
- participation in the social media activity of others (e.g., comments, “likes”)
- a personal branding website
- a personal brand blog
- Videos, animations, and other dynamic content
Before you begin, you need a content strategy. Much like consumer brands, the voice, tone, motifs, colors, templates, and design elements of your brand must resonate with your audience. Here are several personal brand content pillars you can adopt to begin:
- Investigate existing content in your target “market.” Seek out social media and personal branding website examples from similar thought leaders. Use them for content and design inspiration; but also, as research for targeting your own brand.
- Determine your preferred marketing channels for your brand. For example, there are cost-effective, easy-to-use options for creating a personal brand website. Optimize your user experience and align your social media accounts with your brand as well.
- Develop your own content strategy. This specifies the frequency, method, and format in which you produce content. Your strategy should reflect your and your audience’s preferred channels. Most importantly, it should be realistic in terms of the time you have personally for developing your brand.
- Ensure your target audience can find your content. Determine keywords and apply engine optimization techniques to your personal website. Publish social media content about topics that interest your audience. Use a color scheme and website design that will appeal to them as well.
- Create a call to action for each piece of content. Use a call to action for an invitation to connect. Use one to highlight an upcoming event. The key is helping audience members continue their engagement with your brand.
Your Company’s Culture Needs Personal Brands
Personal brands help employees gain value from their professional lives. But they add enormous value for their companies as well. Employees with strong brands also paint their employers in a positive right. It’s in employers’ interests to be proactive in this area.
A full service digital marketing agency can help. The digital marketing services these firms provide can support employers as they create a culture of personal brand-building. In addition to content experts, they are experts in web design, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and more.
Consider Liger Partners for Personal Brand Development
Liger Partners is a full service digital marketing firm with a penchant for brand development. That’s because we bring a personal touch to all our clients’ brand growth. Contact us or download our guide to discover how we can help you and your employees.