If you’re a freelancer or have been working for a while, then you understand the importance of a personal brand. If you’re still in university and haven’t started just yet, don’t worry because it’s best to take your time and do it right so you’ll able to get the best jobs, the best clients, and the biggest payouts.
While the job of creating a personal brand might seem tedious, creating one is very important. Whether you’re a photographer, web designer, art director or copywriter, you want your brand to show people who you are and what you stand for.
Remember, you are the your brand; people pay more for personality than you might think.
Defining who you are
The first—and most important—step in creating your personal brand is to define who you are.
Start by making a list of what you are great at and what you are passionate about; be authentic and transparent about who you are. Not everyone knows what they want to be known for when starting. If you need help, the best option is to ask people in your field what they’d expect out of someone in your industry. And if you’re lucky, maybe your teachers work in your field and they have some ideas.
Use their feedback to figure out what traits you think are the most important; define your core strengths and strategically build your personal brand to be consistent with these values.
Define the audience of your personal brand
Being aware of your target audience is essential to developing your personal brand. However, one of the biggest mistakes that budding personal branders make is trying to appeal to everyone.
By being cognizant of who you are trying to reach, you can strategically determine the best method of reaching your audience. Don’t know who you want to reach? Construct a profile of your typical audience member: who are they, what do they like and dislike, what other brands they associate with, etc. And if it helps, put a face to them, give them a name, just round out your target audience as much as possible.
One of the fundamentals of good marketing is making sure you understand your target audience and what makes them tick. Marketers spend an enormous amount of time, energy, and money to identify those best suited for their brand as well as how to build an experience for that customer.
One way to help understand your target audience is to find out where they are online. That way you can connect with them and learn the things that motivate them. Connect to social media networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow any blogs from people that influence you write or that they follow themselves and read up.
Design your personal brand
Now that you know your core values and who you want to reach, it’s time to start thinking about your logo. While any memorable personal brand should present itself cleanly and consistently, using too many design elements, like colours and fonts, will confuse your audience.
The beauty of a personal logo is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be; you can make it a detailed, strategically designed logo, or create a simple logotype. Don’t know what I mean? Logotypes are just what they sound like: a logo that consists of the brand name written out in a certain typeface. It sounds simple and boring, but logotypes can be highly effective and are a definite time saver, especially if you’re not as design-inclined as others.
Regardless of the style you choose, remember to develop the logo to represent your personality. Choose a pleasing colour palette and limit your font choices to no more than 3 that are distinctly different (any more than 3 fonts in any design is a no no).
Now, you may think creating a logo for your personal brand is the final step in the process, but it’s not. Once you’ve settled on a design, you need to apply these elements to everything that you create for yourself from here on: business cards, letterhead, website. You need to be consistent with your personal brand.
Create an outlet online
Creating a personal brand is all well and good, but it’s useless if no one knows about it. Therefore, it’s vital to your success that you create a website—one that’s responsive and mobile friendly. So If you don’t already have a website or it’s not responsive, it’s time to get up to get one.
You’ll want to own your domain, since you will be giving it out to tons of people. Make sure that you get yourself a .com instead of a .net or .org since it is much easier for clients to remember (country of origin, like .ca is also acceptable).
Make sure you remain consistent with the colours you use in your web design. And when it comes to fonts, choose a web-friendly font that’s either similar to your personal brand or one that compliments it.
You can use your new website to showcase your core values with an About Me page, and if you have one, display your portfolio of work. And I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again: a regularly updated blog as part of your site will keep your target audience engaged. Google loves a well-structured, regularly updated websites that are stuffed with great content—which should help when potential employers are searching for you.
Once you have your website up, your next though needs to be on expanding your personal brand, and social media is the best way to do that.
Get used to sharing and interacting with people; you don’t need to have a profile on every site out there, but make sure that people can easily find you. If possible, try to ensure your username is the same across all the social networks you’re a part of.
Take your time creating these sites and don’t rush into them; the more time you spend, the better your page is going to be. And don’t forget to add links on your website so that users can get from your website to your social media accounts, or to your blog. And don’t forget consistency. Without it, it’ll be harder for people to remember your brand.
Personal brand implementation
Last, but certainly not least, your brand needs to be physical as well. Sure, most of what people think of you is now determined online, but for most professionals, in-person interactions are just as effective. And you need to be sure your personal brand is being seen.
Put your logo on a t-shirt, a USB drive or a coffee mug. It might seem a little strange, but put your name and logo on everything that you possibly can. It’s something you can leave behind when meeting prospective employers for them to remember you. It’s one more thing to get your brand into the public eye and ensure that people are seeing who you are and what you’re doing.
You can also spend some face time with other professionals at networking events, speaking events, or face-to-face meetings with influencers you’ve met online. And while you’re there, hand out some ‘gifts’ to these people as a thank you for their time—and another reminder of your personal brand.
Remember, if potential clients or employers aren’t seeing your name, you’re not going to get many projects in the future.