What It Takes to Build a Highly Effective Personal Brand

October 26, 2020

Before you can deliver a positive brand experience, you must first understand what makes a brand experience positive.

We all agree that personal branding is important, in this article I show you what you need to build one. I'll describe the tools, or essential elements, and how you can apply them to your brand.

The most essential elements for a powerful personal brand must be comprehensively unique and include:

  1. Value proposition and positioning
  2. Brand identity, brand voice and brand message
  3. Brand promise and brand purpose
  4. Name, tagline, logo and visual appearance

Value Proposition

The value proposition is the most important aspect of a brand. It provides the foundation for how you position your brand. It is the impression you want others to have. It truly is the backbone of every brand.

A value proposition states in a few sentences (ideally 2-3 short ones) who you are, what you stand for, which problems you solve and how others can benefit from that.

Authenticity is key here. That means that a value proposition must align with your individual values. Once you build a personal brand, you must live and promote a consistent brand image at all times. If a brand’s image is based on disingenuous values, you’ll eventually make mistakes and your brand experience will feel inconsistent. Your audience will get upset, or may even feel betrayed. Worst case, your brand’s reputation will be ruined entirely .

There’s absolutely nothing more important for a personal brand than authenticity. Always keep that in mind over the course of creating your own brand.

Brand Identity, Brand Voice, Brand Message and Brand Image

Brand identity, voice and message are closely linked to your value proposition. The value proposition is basically the foundation on which those three branding elements are built.

The main function of a brand identity, voice and message is that you become identifiable. Whenever someone interacts with your brand, regardless through which means, they should be able to recognize you instantly.  A brand’s image is the vibe you and your entire brand project. It is the experience your audience notices and judges.

But now let’s get a bit more specific.

The brand identity is essentially the embodiment of your value proposition. Once you’ve defined which values your brand should be associated with, you start creating a persona or identity that fits with this value set. In a personal brand, that’s easy because the persona is based on yourself. However, to create a consistent identity you have to ask: if I want to uphold this brand, how should I interact with people? How should I react to different scenarios?

Let’s say you are building a brand as a tech blogger. In this case, you’d ask yourself what type of identity should that tech blogger embody. To be more specific, you’d define what kind of writer you’d be.

Defining your brand voice and messaging is the next step. Once you get clarity on your brand identity, you need to decide how a person with that identity and value set would communicate. Did you choose an analytical, straightforward tech blogger identity? Then brainstorm what kind of words someone like that would use? How long would this person’s posts be? What kind of imagery would he use? Which colours are appropriate? Would a tech blogger with that brand image use a reserved, professional or rather a colloquial, easy-going tone and writing style?

Remember to choose something that is authentic to you because in a personal brand, the identity, voice and message resembles you. If you fake it, you’ll break it.

A brand image is when all of the elements above come together in a cohesive way. The brand image is the experience your audience has with you. It’s their perception of how they were treated when interacting with your brand and their judgement of how pleasant or unpleasant it was to engage with it.

That being said: Make this count! Be authentic, consistent and positive!

Brand Promise and Brand Purpose

These two are often confused, but they serve  very different purposes for your brand.

A  brand purpose is the WHY of your brand. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What do you stand for beyond making money? What is your motivation? What are your drivers in life?

The answers to those questions are your brand purpose. They make you approachable, relatable and human. And an authentic and relatable brand purpose makes it easy for people to associate themselves with your brand on an emotional level and to identify with your personality and values.

The brand purpose is really where your personal identity, mindset and values shine through and make a difference in how others perceive you.

A brand promise on the other hand is more about the expectations people have of you and your brand. It is about what you promise your brand will deliver.

Let’s say you promise to deliver high-quality tech reviews every Monday. This is what people expect from you. They expect you to be diligent and skilled enough to write high-quality articles.

A promise makes your brand tangible, but also more controllable because you can influence your audience’s expectations. For example, you can achieve this through setting expectations in FAQs, a value statement, a ‘What to expect” page and so on.

To summarize: The brand purpose is the emotional connection with your brand and the brand promise is a tool used to set expectations.

Name, Tagline and Visual Appearance

Even though a name, tagline and logo are a vital part of a brand’s identity and image, I decided to describe them last because, in most cases, they’re not as relevant for personal brands.

In personal branding, you don’t really need to look for a brand name since you yourself are the brand. The need to find a brand name only applies if you decide to adopt an artist name. However, if you’re working on a side project or if you want to give your blog or project a name that is different from yours, be sure to remember your values before choosing a name. I will elaborate more on values later in the book.

Let’s refer again to the tech blogger example. If you want to create an analytical, straight-forward image with a reserved and analytical tone, it would be inconsistent to choose a name like ‘Freaky Tech Blizzard’ (*fictional) as the name for your blog. You might want to go with something more down-to-earth in this case.

A tagline however is important, especially for your social media profiles.

In personal branding, you derive your tagline from your value proposition (which we’ll work on throughout the course of this book). Your tagline can either be the first sentence of your value statement or an additional, even more concise version specifically created for social media.

In the last step, you should think about the visual appearance of your brand. You need to decide where you want to appear and how.

Which platforms do you want to be present on? What are the best practices there? Are there certain standards of appearance that you need to adhere to? Is imagery required for those platforms? If so, how will you get it and what does it have to look like in order to align with your brand image?

Then you need to think about questions like, do you want to have a logo? If so, how can it portray your values and the main message of your value proposition? If your platform is Instagram, which filters most resonate with your brand image? Which ones give the most consistent experience with your brand values?

Conclusion

The most important tool for your personal brand is your value proposition. All of the other branding elements are encompassed by this  in one way or another. To create a powerful value proposition, all the other elements need to be rock solid.

However, the value proposition is also the most difficult part of creating a brand. It requires you to be honest and real with yourself so that your audience will experience an honest, real, and authentic brand in the end.

But good news for you: I’ve developed a framework and step by step system that is solely designed to get you to that powerful value proposition. It provides you with easy guidelines to nailing this hard task.

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