ways to improve your personal brand
When it comes to personal branding, a lot of entrepreneurs think they can set it and forget it. But branding is kind of a forever-process: as you and your business evolve, your brand needs to evolve with you. And I don’t mean the external stuff – your visual identity (like logos and color palettes), your website design, your sales copy, your visibility opportunities, and your networking techniques – in all cases of brand strategy, including ways to improve your personal brand, it’s SO much more effective to start internally. It makes the external stuff way easier to figure out.
I’d also like to acknowledge the fact that I’m focusing on personal brands here, but you’ll benefit from this post even if the brand you’re building isn’t a personal one. The branding industry LOVES to separate business brands vs. personal brands, but most of the strategy is exactly the same. Let’s get into it!
5 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Personal Brand
1. Get specific
Your brand might already be pretty specific – like you’re a Parisian fashionista who orders a lavender latte at every café she can find. Or maybe you’re a Squarespace aficionado who builds websites for athletic shoe companies. Or maybe a seamstress who sews custom organic cotton clothes for retired women all over the world.
But I’m going to challenge you to crank the burner up to 11 and really let this one sizzle – when I say specific I don’t just mean your niche. I’m talking about your Big Idea. Your message. The core concept or essence or principle you want to pop into people’s brains when they think about you.
As entrepreneurs we try to get really fancy and complicated and important when it comes to improving our personal brands, but straightforward simplicity truly is the most powerful move you can make. Also: this isn’t about putting you in a box. It’s about being as clear as possible so your audience doesn’t have to try too hard to understand you.
2. Double down on what makes you unique
Did I say double? Make that a triple. I totally get that you don’t want to come across as egotistical, but if you want a personal brand that stands out you’ve GOT to be willing to toot your own horn. There’s something magical about you that makes you different from everyone else doing the same thing as you – if you truly want to improve your personal brand, it’s your responsibility to figure out what that is and then leverage the hell out of it. Unapologetically.
3. Be yourself even harder
A good way to audit whether your personality is truly being reflected in your personal brand is to ask yourself these questions: Where are you avoiding saying what you really want to say? Which topics do you shy away from because you’re scared of offending people? How are you changing your communication style in an attempt to be more professional? Who are you worried will judge you? What are you censoring in order to fit in?
We’re all better off when we have the confidence to be ourselves – even if it means offending people. Remember: an effective personal brand attracts AND repels.
4. Prioritize being relatable over being perfect
I promise the irony of ME preaching this is not lost on me! As a recovering perfectionist I’m empathetic to the fact that trying to change the world with your business is serious business, so of course you want to be taken seriously. You want people to understand you’re an expert, a leader, and a legitimate and trustworthy choice.
But if any brand needs to focus on the fact that they’re a human, it’s a PERSONAL brand. Never forget you’re a human, communicating with other humans. People connect with people. People trust people. People are influenced by people. People buy from people.
5. Understand what your audience wants and needs from you
And I absolutely do NOT mean playing a part or pretending to be something you’re not – this can get confusing because even though your brand is built by you, it’s not for you. It’s for your ideal client. So your brand should be genuine, but it should also be a refined, strategic version of your natural self. The whole point of building a personal brand is to claim a position in your ideal client’s mind, so to do that effectively you have to understand how their mind works.