Have You Given Thought to Your Personal Brand?

What is the Benefit of Personal Branding?

If you’re in business you probably have given some thought to your brand. More and more, a business brand isn’t enough. Today people in business are giving increasing attention to their personal brand. Social media has increased the awareness of personal brands and has visibly tied them to businesses.

Distinguishing with a Personal Brand

People trust recommendations from friends and family over brands. This is particularly apparent on social media. Surveys have confirmed that more than 90 percent of consumers trust personal recommendations over all other forms of advertising (the second most-trusted is online reviews). It’s called earned media, and it is why social media is so powerful.

Personal Brands and Social Media

Call center worker viewing his social media profile

Social media has made the potential for establishing personal brands greater than ever.

Social media has made the potential for establishing personal brands greater than ever. Perhaps you have created a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page for your business. The chances are it’s not getting the activity your personal social media pages receive. Establishing a personal brand as a representative of your company can go a long way in getting traction on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others.

This can be tricky, however. Most of us have interests outside of work and post about activities with friends and family as well as jokes, politics and other subjects that would not be helpful for a business page. Unrelated information can also confuse and diffuse a personal brand. It may in some sense work for big name business celebrities, but it probably won’t work for a local business proprietor just beginning to establish a personal brand.

Staying On Brand

I have a friend in the clock repair business. One day over dinner he was pondering a display in order to liquidate unrelated merchandise. Asking my advice, I responded, “The problem is you are the clock guy.” As far as his personal brand is concerned, being anything other than what he is known for would cause confusion and dilute the brand.

Real estate agents are often astute as far as personal branding goes. Signs, business cards, and posters typically include photographs and logos. Facebook pages contain primarily information about properties, as well as articles on the market and other information useful to consumers. The information is liked and shared because it is coming from a trusted person in the community rather than a business brand.

If you don’t currently use social media, you have an advantage going in.  Creating accounts to post primarily about business-related topics can produce much better results than posting from a brand page. You will immediately be associated with your brand without the need for decluttering. This does not mean using social media accounts to constantly push products. Rather, be social, use them to communicate, promote community causes, invite questions and offer services that will present your brand in a good light.

Done well, and consistently maintained over time, a personal brand can extend beyond your business. The person who stands in front of a company brand becomes integral to that brand and may surpass it in recognition. This makes some careful thought about who you connect to a business brand at the onset essential.

Tips on Personal Branding

Personal branding is not limited to social media. There are many other considerations. To start, does your business card match your website? Creating a look and then using it consistently is the first step. Create personal social media accounts, as well as company pages with the same look. Use a quality headshot with a neutral background that allows you to be recognized instantly. Having a solid background color associated with your brand is helpful.

Many successful people are known to standardize their wardrobe to maximize efficiency, but an additional benefit is that consistent dress can reinforce a brand. Steve Jobs’ turtlenecks come to mind. Unique glasses are also frequently used to aid easy recognition.

A blog on your website is useful to a personal brand, but securing a column in an outside publication is even better. Authoring a book on a related topic, even if you distribute them at no cost, is also a good way to establish your personal brand.

In short, to create a personal brand, identify the brand, i.e., “local insurance expert.” Coordinate the look and feel with your business brand. Maintain that look and reinforce it with quality, relevant information on social media and elsewhere.

About Eric Miller

Eric Miller works in Marketing and Communications at LevelFirst, IIAT's MGA and Brokerage Unit and with IIAT Advantage.
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