In certain competitive fields today, you need to build a brand in order to stand out. This can be particularly true in a field like marketing, where brand building as an individual is a way to demonstrate to potential employers and other industry connections that you’ve got the necessary chops to do the same for their product or service. If you’re new to the field, this can act as a kind of combination portfolio and business card. This can also be important if you’re a writer, an actor, an influencer, a business leader or in any other type of field where you as a personality are the product that you’re selling. The specifics of how you go about this will differ from person to person since everyone is themselves different, but there are some broad guidelines that are true for everyone.
Identify Your Goal
What do you hope to accomplish? How you approach this process will differ depending on whether your answer is to get a job, sell more books, or just get attention online. While in most cases, goals should be as concrete and measurable as possible, for this particular situation, try to think more conceptually. You may later set goals that are more specific using digital marketing techniques, but right now, just try to focus on the reason you’re creating a brand in the first place. It may help to think of this as writing a kind of mission statement.
This will help you start to mentally create a picture of this online you. What’s your aesthetic going to be? What kind of visuals and diction will you use? Be sure to create some distance between yourself and the version of you that you’re putting online. This can feel insincere if you’re dedicated to authenticity, but think about it in that you don’t walk into a grocery store and start telling everyone exactly what you’re thinking. You change up your behavior all the time depending on the situation, and online is just another social space where you’re presenting certain facets of yourself. That doesn’t make it any less authentic, and it’s healthy to have some space between online you and real you.
Establishing Your Expertise
How do you establish your expertise? In some cases, you don’t actually have to. In fact, depending on what exactly your goal is, it may be more fruitful to take an approach more along the lines of here is something you’re just learning how to do, and you can do this together, with you learning from rookie mistakes. Of course, if you are trying to get a job in a particular field or otherwise establish yourself as being very good at something, you do need to demonstrate your expertise or at least show that you know a thing or two. You can do this through education, experience, or a combination of the two.
One of the best ways to show your educational expertise in most fields is with a bachelor’s degree. If you’ve been putting off getting your degree because of cost, keep in mind that there are several different types of funding available for going to school. Student loans are available both from the federal government and from private lenders. Federal and private student loans have different requirements, and students often take out a combination of the two. Be sure to include both your education and experience in the bio field of any social media platform that you use.
Consider Your Audience
It’s also important to think about who you’re trying to reach. Middle-aged executives will be on different platforms and respond to very different approaches than teenage gamers. If you’ve identified your audience but it’s not an audience that you’re very familiar with, spend some time getting to know them. It can help to build a kind of model audience member, thinking about their demographics, their likes and dislikes and what they will respond to. Remember that you don’t have to be everything to everybody; you don’t even have to be liked by everyone.
In fact, some of the very strongest brands evoke intense feelings of dislike in people who are not their audience. You don’t necessarily have to aim for this, but it’s good to keep in mind that universal acclaim is not necessarily your goal. Striving for that kind of acclaim often results in a persona that is bland and uninteresting. Just be careful to avoid certain mistakes as there are ways to destroy a brand that you might mistake for creative strategy.
Elements to Consider
Effectively building a brand is about much more than setting up a social media account and sharing your thoughts with the world. There’s a lot of detail that you need to think about that should, when put together, convey a strong impression of your brand. This includes imagery, colors, font and a logo. You can even build your own visual style guide to help ensure that you remain consistent. Think about your voice as well. Will you be funny, serious, sarcastic, formal, irreverent, enthusiastic or something else? If you aren’t quite sure about the answers to these questions, try taking a look at other brands, noticing what they use to build an overall sense of personality behind the accounts.
Create a Content Strategy
Creating an engaging online avatar that is in some way a version of you is one thing, but there’s an important step that you can’t miss in that you must have something of value to offer. This doesn’t mean you actually have to sell things. Your something of value might simply be snarky one-liners or links to interesting articles in your field. The point is that as much as creating a brand can seem like an exercise in superficiality, that’s actually an approach that is bound to fail. You need to be able to consistently provide something to your audience that will keep them coming back. How you plot your content strategy will vary depending on the platforms that you use. If you’re dropping content like podcasts, blog posts or newsletters, it’s usually a good idea to do so on a regular schedule so that your audience knows when to expect them. If you’re preparing longer-form pieces, you may want to mock up an editorial calendar in which you plan content well in advance.