how to figure out your personal brand
So you’re wondering how to figure out your personal brand, and I’m wondering if I can take a potentially-awkward-internet-stranger moment to give you an OH HELL YES? Honestly, The fact that you found your way to this blog post proves you know how important branding is as an entrepreneur, and in my professional opinion that deserves a virtual round of applause (And maybe champagne? No, not before noon? Fine.).
Because personal branding can feel like a big, stupid puzzle, right? Taking every damn nuance of who you are as a person – your personality, your experiences, your values, your fears, your beliefs, your goals – and combining them into one cohesive entity? IMPOSSIBLE. (It’s really not – but we’ll get to that!)
I’ll walk you through exactly how to figure out your personal brand below, but first…
Let’s take one lil’ step back because before you can start figuring out your brand you have to understand what a brand actually is, and equally as important, what a brand isn’t.
If I could scream anything from the mountaintops, it would be this: I DO NOT CARE IF THERE’S PINEAPPLE ON THE PIZZA, I WILL EAT THE PIZZA BECAUSE IT’S PIZZA. But also: your personal brand isn’t your logo! It’s not your color palette, your website, your storefront, your “Inspiration” Pinterest board, or even your business.
At its core, your personal brand is really just your reputation. It’s how your audience feels about you. It’s the characteristics that come to mind when they think of you and your business. It’s how they describe you to their friends.
This is where shit gets crazy, because while you have a business, you are a human.
And there are FAR too many facets of being human to describe in just a few words. What if you consider yourself multi-passionate? What if you watch cheesy musicals, but are also really interested in sports medicine? What if your clients are respectable, professional career-oriented adults but on Friday nights you like to pound 3 vodka sodas and see how low you can get on the dance floor? What if some days you have enough energy to back-up dance for Beyoncé and other days your biggest accomplishment is making a you-shaped dent in the couch and wiping Cheetos dust on your sweatpants? How do you reconcile your personality paradoxes?
How do we get from YOU (a human with countless experiences / thoughts / emotions / opinions / hopes / dreams / beliefs) to a PERSONAL BRAND (a straightforward and defined concept that’s easy to describe)?
Figuring out your personal brand is simply a process of refinement. You’re not taking all of the elements that make you you, squishing them together, tying a brand-colored ribbon around them, and calling it a personal brand. Instead, you’ll acknowledge each and every one of the pieces, consider what’s the most important, and strategically focus on the elements that most clearly determine:
1. Who you are (your personality!)
2. What you do (your business!)
3. How you do it differently (your unique value proposition!)
4. Who you serve (your ideal clients!)
So – why wait when you can have instant gratification?! Let’s start to figure out your personal brand literally RIGHT NOW!
HOW TO FIGURE OUT YOUR PERSONAL BRAND:
1. Write down 15 – 20 qualities and characteristics that describe you as a person (leave your business out of this – we’re talking about you, the real human person here!), and then narrow that down to 3 – 5 that seem to stand out the most. Focus on the ones that feel make you unique, are a large part of your identity, and that you love sharing with others.
2. Stop thinking about what you do, and start thinking about why you do it. Not just that it makes you happy, or you’re passionate about it, or that people need it. Why does it make you happy? Why are you passionate about it? Why is it needed? How could it change the world?
3. Determine what pisses you off about your industry. Is it the myths? The standards and norms? The inauthenticity? Once you’re good and mad, decide how you’re going to use your business to change your industry.
4. Describe the kind of people you LOVE to work with, and then figure out the reason. Is it because they’re extremely driven and don’t give up on their goals? Is it because they’re easygoing and carefree? Is it because they make new experiences a priority in their lives? Is it because they value their friendships above all else? Is it because they’re fiercely loyal to those they love?
And look, I know those prompts aren’t easy, but I also know real brand clarity work never is. I guarantee if you truly take the time to dig into these prompts, you’ll start to see parallels between all four elements of your personal brand – who you are, what you do, how you do it differently, and who you serve.
There’s a lot more that goes into a complete brand strategy – mission, values, messaging, story, etc. – but the more time and energy you’re willing to invest into exercises like the ones above, the more defined, unique, and effective your brand will become!