Want to know how to create a brand based on your personal strengths and skills? Find your voice, identify your value proposition and share it. 

For many people it is well known that a brand is not just a logo or a product, it is a way of understanding your business as a whole, from the emotional perspective to all the associations that people build in their minds when they recognize your physical and symbolic elements. A bonding impression of trust, loyalty and value.  

Branding, is therefore, creating the relationship and the experience that the client has with the brand, a growing impression developing in the long run. As brands are based on perceptions, one of its main objectives has to be meaningful, it must have a well-defined identity to rely on, a clear vision, a key purpose and surround itself with values, an essential way to connect with audiences. 

The meaning of a brand is not defined or reduced exclusively by the tangible side (logo, packaging, advertising), but also by a series of attitudes – attributes, for example a strong personality, and a distinguishable tone of communication. As Marie-Claude Sicard, an expert in branding, puts it: “the identity of a brand is the mixture of both dimensions and their evolution”.

Today, everything can be labeled as a brand, from corporations, countries, and universities to people, as celebrities, politicians, writers or anyone prominent in their field. Personal branding is efficient if, as a person, you are willing to be remarkable and succeed in professional environments, because that could make the difference.

Personal Branding: Skills, Perceptions and Distinction

The concept of “Personal Branding” was coined in 1997 by Tom Peters in the Fast Company Magazine. Several years later, the term has evolved in different ways or acceptions as in “human branding”, “self-marketing” or “self-branding”. One of the main goals of personal branding is to gain relevance in professional paths, in order to do so, some key aspects are required during the effort of becoming a human brand such as visibility, differentiation, and an unique personality to strengthen brand equity.

Scheidt, Gelhard, and Henseler, in their article “Old Practice, but Young Research Field: A Systematic Bibliographic Review of Personal Branding” consider the term, from a process perspective “establishing, maintaining and developing an individual’s human brand…an intangible asset linked to a person, which generates economic and social value through its visibility as a result of a personal branding process”.

There are a variety of human brands examples from sports, academics, visual and performing artists, business managers or self-employed, content creators and professional services. 

According to the authors, the personal branding conceptual triangle is based on three pillars. First, the branded individual and his skills, competencies, experiences, and what they bring to the table. Second, the perceptions of the branded person and relevant associations of the target audience. Third, a distinction from their peers, by leveraging their points of difference and defining individual Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

The human brand can have a strong focus on career and employment as well as the commercialization of a story, a way of doing business, an intellectual perspective or knowledge. Thanks to social media, nowadays it is possible to showcase yourself in the digital world, think how you want to be perceived and what is going to draw people’s attention towards you. 

How to Create a Brand: From Personal to Social Media and Beyond

1. Focus on your goals: define what you want to archive.

First of all, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Do you want to create value for people, how would you do it? Do you want to promote your products or services? Are you willing to step up in your career? If you are focused on goals, it would be easier for you to frame your actual plan and strategize how to get it right, step by step. 

For Bianca Miller, the “pack” to define a personal brand are presentation, approach, communication and knowledge. Miller is an entrepreneur, and an expert on personal branding, co-author of “Self-Made: The Definitive Guide to Startup Business Success”. 

Personal branding is useful when you have clear objectives, an audit of your personal/professional skills and are thinking of the future. Where do you see yourself when those goals are accomplished? You will need to work on them day by day.

2. Think about your talents, what are you willing to give?

It is important to have an area of expertise or talent. Think about what you are going to share with the world, because that is exactly what you need to nourish. Identify your natural purpose, trace a territory and position yourself on it. You cannot be everything for everybody.   

For example, take a look at Amanda Gorman, she is the youngest presidential inauguration wordsmith poet in U.S. history and a good example of a rising personal brand centered in artistic talents, activism, and a clear voice.  

She is an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University. An advocate and change-maker author of “Change sings” and the poetry collection “The Hill We Climb”, Gorman also has written for the NYT’s The Edit and contributed to the manifiesto for Nike’s 2020 Black History Month Campaign. 

Once you decide where to focus, read, research, analyze, become a master in your field or, if you have that phase covered, think on creative ways to share that knowledge. Focus on useful information, critical thinking, debating or even presenting your own point of view. What are your most important work assets and what will make you different? 

3. Select your media and platforms to your personal brand.

Social media has grown tremendously in the past decade, but it is important to select the ones that are right for you. Not all platforms work the same and nor has the same purpose. 

If you are a creative working as a stylist, photographer or designer, you will not be showcasing your work through text. You need to adapt the content to each social media channel. Have a blog or a website where you can have full control of your creations and also a personal space to present yourself besides what you offer or what you can do for others. 

“Personal branding is the story people tell about you when you are not in the room.” according to Aaron Orendorff VP of Marketing at The CommonThread Collective, Forbes Council Member and previous Editor in Chief of Shopify Plus. An active user on Twitter helping DTC (direct to consumer) brands to grow, providing tips, insights, and point of view about e-commerce.  

Audit your social media, review your bio, update your links and introductory phrases. You have to be clear and sound in what you do, and keep it real, it is necessary to build a trust in digital. 

4. Know your audience, define your content and be active.

It is important to create a network of people that share the same interest as you. In a way, it is a useful step to position your personal brand in a certain field. Know the main discussions around the topic, how you can contribute to it and how you can interact with the community as a front runner or as the backstage person type. 

A good example is Kevin Ma, he founded Hypebeast in 2005 as a sneaker centered passion project, now it is a global reference in street culture and media content with millions of pageviews and an Instagram follower base of 9,6 million, besides @Hypebae, the women’s version with almost 2 million followers including @Hypebaebeauty. Although Ma is not fully active as a personal brand, he acts as a curator, providing a behind the scenes work that nurtures the Hypebeast brand.  

Constancy is the key element for valuable content on social media, creating something your audience wants. 

5. Craft your story, but be authentic and communicate honestly.

The world is looking for ethical professionals, not fake famous personas. You already have your own personality, you have your own belief system, you just have to put it into context regarding your field. 

Sophia Amoruso is a good example of entrepreneurship and hard failure in the public eye. With an exceptional and aspirational story behind her back, she created NastyGal in 2006, an eBay store selling vintage clothes, soon to be NastyGal.com scaling into a multibillion dollar enterprise. She wrote a New York Times Best Seller book about the ride named #GIRLBOSS, turned into a TV series. 

Now helping entrepreneurs, side-hustlers and founders-to-be to build their dream with e-books, online courses, and giving advice “ I’ve navigated the tricky waters of building both bootstrapped and investor-backed companies…I’m a total introvert and riddled with impostor syndrome every day–but I get up and keep getting up because I’m driven to share my learnings with the next generation of entrepreneurs”

Personal branding is powerful because it is based on authenticity and human connection. No relationship can be based on lies.  Find your communication tone, build trust and tell your professional story from the heart.

To brand yourself, rely on honesty, people will notice.