“The best of the best, the ones who consistently perform to their capabilities, leave themselves on the sidelines, and step onto the field of play with an alter ego, secret identity, or persona to unleash everything they have.” – Todd Herman, author of The Alter Ego Effect
We all craft the identities we present to the world on a daily basis. We all show up differently depending on where we are and who we’re with. It’s how a mom at home can also be a Youtube personality online and a CEO in the boardroom. It’s natural to compartmentalize, and in business, it’s necessary.
Personal branding takes this natural social phenomenon and capitalizes on it. It’s when we take the natural development of performance identities and add intentional strategy to the mix. And whether you’re just starting to build your audience, growing your business, or crafting an empire, personal branding is critical to sustainable growth and authentic leadership.
Why do we develop personal brands in business?
When you’re building a personal brand, there are two equally important ideas driving the process. On one hand, it’s about building boundaries between your personal and professional life. Those boundaries are healthy buffers to keep your sense of self as independent as possible from the ups and downs of your work. It’s creating a mindset to separate yourself from your performance identity as an entrepreneur.
It helps you to build a thicker skin. Because business is tough – there’s no way around it – and you need to create a healthy balance. Alongside a good therapist, a well-crafted personal brand is an important tool to have in your arsenal on an entrepreneurial journey.
On the other hand, the second driver of a personal brand isn’t about you at all. When we develop personal brands in the course of business development, it’s important to take your ego out of the equation. This may sound like a paradox at first. After all – how can you remove your ego from a process that’s all about you?
But that’s just it – a successful personal brand isn’t about you. It’s about who you want to serve. As you develop your business, especially a knowledge service like coaching or course creation, you need a performance identity that you can use to position yourself as a thought leader for your audience. A personal brand is a connection – a way to relate to your audience. A great personal brand is built around the idea of service, 100% of the time.
Your brand isn’t about you. It’s about what you can do for others.
How does a personal brand fit into your business?
If your business is knowledge-based, then your personal brand is more than your calling card. It’s the recognizable essence of your process or product. For knowledge experts, your business is theoretically based on a process that you have mastered, and packaged for others to use for their own benefit. You have put in the work to develop something stemming from your own genius, externalizing it and distilling it into proprietary processes and packages for your clients.
It’s unique, and it’s yours. You made it happen, and you should be proud of it.
A strong personal brand that is representative of your work will help you to maximize your future growth trajectory. It makes you recognizable. It turns you into a leader. Your brand is how you position yourself as the expert in your field. It helps to create authentic, organic growth, because you are constantly showing up to your clients and building a relationship based on trust and service.
Okay, awesome. But how do you create a successful personal brand?
The first thing to keep in mind is that a successful personal brand, just like any other part of your business, is an organic thing. It adapts and changes over time, as it should. But the changes need to be intentional, and strategic.
There are several aspects of your personal brand. At its core, you need to understand the value you bring to the table. It’s important to be able to distill your niche, x-factor, and mission statement into succinct statements. What are your signature solutions? What do you do better than anyone else? What sets you apart from the crowd? It’s important to understand your value; if you can’t articulate your x-factor, then your clients can’t either.
Like I said earlier, your clients are the core of your personal brand. It’s about how you show up for them every day. So when you craft your personal brand, think about them – what they want, what they need, and how you can help them achieve their goals. If you can identify this journey and build a profile on your clients, then you can better position yourself to serve them.
Beyond understanding the value you provide to your audience, there are tools you can use to create a strategic, consistent brand These tools are your core values, personality, and voice. Each of these factors will shape your aesthetic and the way you communicate with your audience. When you do it successfully, the result is a consistent performance identity that fosters organic relationships and trust with your audience.
In order to evolve or change your personal brand, there are two decisions you need to consciously make:
- Commit, and take the time to do the work. This isn’t something you decide in 10 minutes. It requires a deep knowledge of your business, and the ability to look at it from afar and distill it down to its core components. That said, you don’t have to do it alone. It can be a challenging process. Think of it this way – a dentist doesn’t examine their own teeth. A doctor doesn’t perform surgery on themselves. When it comes to brand strategy, even when you’re the expert, a helping hand or second opinion can go a long way.
- Make a plan for your brand strategy, and stick to it. Your brand profile should become the backbone of every marketing component in your business. From copy to website design, your personal brand should inform every step of the process. If you commit, then the result is an authentic brand that is truly aligned with your highest purpose.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, we all have a personal brand. We all show up differently to the businesses and professional relationships that we create. It’s in our nature. By using this natural process of performance crafting with intention, we give ourselves the opportunity to create healthier work boundaries for ourselves, while showing up for our clients to serve them better. The end result positions you as a leader. And you’ve been one all along – now you’re just letting the world see it, too.