6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Building A Personal Brand
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
I have been getting a lot of questions recently in regards to how to build a personal brand. To be honest, this is not something that was even on my mind until my last semester of college. I remember my mentor telling me that we were all "walking billboards" in the world. (Basically she was telling me that how I conducted myself MATTERED.)
After I started thinking, I found myself wondering on how I wanted hiring managers to see me in their hiring process. How was I going to stand out against other recent grads that had a very similar resume? What could I bring to the table?
When I began thinking about what I wanted my brand to look like, I noticed that this has been an objective I had carried out throughout most of my life. (And trust me, most of us have!) I grew up with my dad reminding me to care about how I presented myself outwardly and internally. I presented myself based on my likes and interests everyday. Especially because I am a twin and I NEEDED to be different. (LOL) I was the girly one, the one who loved all things fashion and Anthropologie. I was the true crime enthusiast and the candle lover. I had a PERSONAL brand of my own that was just mine.
"So, how do I put all of the 'stuff' that is ME into a brand that I can display across my website and social media channels?"
These are the six questions I asked myself when building my personal brand.
1. What are you passionate about?
The first thing I had to ask was: what are you passionate about? What really gets your thoughts and creativity going? To some people it's sports while others it's politics. Regardless on whether or not it has to do with your career or career aspirations, it matters.
We want this to be specific. We want your community to see these things in their everyday life and immediately think of you. For me, it is all things Bachelor, Anthropologie candles and social media strategy. (LOL) I know. It is so different and so random.
Here's another example. My brother is a HUGE techie and that is exactly how he brands himself. He works for a pretty popular app and whenever I see him he says, "Bri have you heard of this app or have you tried this one?" He is the guy constantly talking about all things apps and startup life. His life is basically run on apps. (LOL I am not kidding) His website and his social media handles all represent this.
All that to say, think about the topics you are passionate about. What are you constantly looking up or writing about on Twitter? These topics are what make you, YOU and are critical in identifying your brand voice.
2. When people describe you, what are the three things you want them to know instantly?
Try thinking about the phrase that your friends and family typically tell you that goes a little something like this: "I (saw, heard, etc) this and thought of you."
We want these "things" to be represented across your website and social media channels so that when your community sees these in life, they think of you. One of my favorite bloggers, Jenna Kutcher, literally brands herself off of mac and cheese and yoga pants. In fact, in her podcast intro she says, "Here is educator, photographer and mac and cheese lover..."
On the other side, think about the characteristics your family and friends use to describe you. Do they say you're funny? Smart? Adventurous? Think about how you want to be portrayed to world. Embracing these characteristics will give your brand authenticity and personability.
3. What are your dreams and aspirations? What does your future look like?
Alright, now we are getting to the deep stuff. What are your dreams? What does your 5 year plan look like right now? Keep in mind that what we think our future looks like and what it will actually look like are two very separate ideas. When I graduated from school I thought I was going to work in corporate PR at a 9-5 job. However, that turned out to be very different. When I was on the job hunt I branded myself differently than how I brand myself now. Simply because I changed. My direction, dreams and aspirations changed.
The great thing about your personal brand is that it develops with you. And guess what? Your community wants to see your brand and personal growth across your social media channels and website.
So what are your dreams RIGHT NOW. Talk about those dreams and those goals on your media channels. Brand yourself as "Aspiring _______." Connect with people in that field, go to networking events, write about your aspirations and goals.
4. Alright, what do I do now?
Let's get to the good stuff. AESTHETIC. This is what people ask me about the most and it's THE MOST FUN.
If you haven't already, get a Canva account. It's a free marketing tool where you can make logos, designs, etc. This is the platform people use when they have no idea how to use Photoshop. (**Raise my hand**) Start thinking about colors, symbols and fonts that represent you.
Most importantly, focus on your VOICE. Don't say something on your website or social media accounts that doesn't sound like you. Ask yourself these questions: Do you want to sound personable? Professional? Both? A company who does this SO well is Wendy's. Their twitter account is full of character with funny tweets and responses that are both funny and professional.
For me, I try to be very authentic and friendly. You will see the "Hey girl!" or "LOL" all the time in my posts and captions because that is just how I talk. I laugh all the time (sometimes an annoying amount) and that comes across in my brand. I want my followers to get to know me and who I am. When I was looking for jobs, my voice was more professional and I didn't create a lot of personal content. Think about the type of language you want to use.
5. How do I stay on brand?
Great question with a simple answer: Branding Sheet! I created a branding sheet awhile ago with the colors and fonts I wanted to use for my website and my social media. I stick to these fonts and colors so that my brand is consistent.
6. How do I step up my Instagram aesthetic?
Now that we covered that, let's move on to Instagram aesthetic. There is so much that I can say about this but in the spirit of not completely overwhelming you, I will stick to the basics. I use Planoly to plan out my Instagram posts because you are able to see your grid and they automatically post your scheduled post to Instagram (which is amazing!)
What I do to keep my brand consistent on Instagram is to look at my branding sheet and have at least one of the colors represented in my Instagram posts. I typically switch off between grey, green and dusty pink. Also, you will need to switch between content and people. Content is for example a coffee cup and for people you can either have yourself or someone else (or your dog lol). Here is my example:
Some really good apps to use for this are either Planoly or UN UM. These both have features where you can see your grid. I know what you're thinking, why is your grid SO important? Well, studies show that an Instagram user decides between the first 1-2 seconds if they want to follow you or not. That means that displaying your brand consistently is VITAL to increasing your overall engagement. Engagement = Credibility.
YASSS! We made it through. I bet you are feeling a little overwhelmed or confused. To be honest, I still feel that way. The key to making all of these steps come to fruition is just to START. (No, you don’t have to delete all of your content on Instagram.) Just start. Also another tool to use for some inspiration is to start following bloggers, companies, etc. who you look up to. Whose aesthetic and brand do you LOVE!? Take that into consideration while deciding on your brand.
As always, this ain’t goodbye. If you have any questions PLEASE connect with me. I would absolutely love to help you.
Have a good weekend everyone!