‘Brand is not a product, that’s for sure. It’s not one item. It’s an idea, it’s a theory, it’s a meaning, it’s how you carry yourself. It’s aspirational, it’s inspirational.’ – Kevin Plank
The most powerful brand you will ever work with is your own personal brand. And congratulations, you are the Creative Director & Chief Marketing Officer.
What is your personal brand? Well, the best way I could describe it is that your personal brand is third party feedback – what people say about you when you are not in the room.
Your Personal Brand is every single touch point about you:
· Your Attitude
· Your Values & Morals
· Your Work Ethic
· Your Social Media Feed(s)
· Your Aesthetic
· Your Manners & Etiquette
· Your Third Party Feedback – How do people describe you when you are not in the room?
As an example – with my business, I (oh so modestly!) named it after myself, so to be authentic, the brand ‘SAMANTHA WILLS’ has to be an extension of my personal brand. The personal values I hold in high esteem for my life are values I insist on in the people I hire & the culture we develop.
My top three non-negotiable values in life & business (a.k.a my operating values) are:
Establishing your values is the foundation for who you are as a person, and as a brand. Then it is about having the integrity to live & die by them. An example here of a common problem I think comes up in new business, especially those who are establishing a business of publishing (Bloggers / Writers / Influencers etc).
Say you are a vegetarian, and your message contains your views & opinions on why you are vegetarian. One of those reasons is because your view on eating meat relates directly to animal cruelty. Then imagine a fashion brand contacts you; they have these new leather jackets in their collection that they not only want to gift you, but they want to pay you $2000 to post one picture of you wearing it on your social media feeds? You’ve just started out, and $2000 would go a long way – but your core message is about speaking out against animal cruelty. You’ve stated in a few posts before that you don’t wear leather for this reason. Would anyone even remember those? Heck, you could go back, delete them, post the leather jacket picture & collect the payment that could really help your business… But this goes against your core values.
The point I am trying to make, is that good brand (business brands or personal brands) have core values that they stick to. Their values are consistent, and the decisions made around them have integrity. There will be times when it will seem easy & harmless to go against your values – Don’t. Protect your personal brand by remaining true. Stand for something, or fall for anything.
SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS
This topic needs its own entry & I promise to write one or more things on this topic, but in the top level case of Personal Branding, your social media feed needs to reflect you & how you want brand ‘you’ to look.
That is everything from the quality of the images you post to telling an organic story with them. Does your imagery look like it is from the same ‘family’ or when you step back & look at it, does it look like it is from all over the place? Maybe you use only one or two filters to try to harness consistency?
Is it the voice on your posts? Are you funny? Sentimental? What is your personal voice & are you being consistent in it?
What topics do you post about? On my Instagram feed, the breakdown of my topics is: Jewellery & Product / My Personal Life & Travels / Quotes (in my hand writing) that resonate with me & which I think will resonate with my consumer.
Keep your messaging tight, concise & consistent.
Below are some of my social media feeds, with an at-a-glance aesthetic.
This is peoples' very first impression of you. What is your personal style? Does that filter across all elements of your life? I’m not saying it has to, but I am saying that if you want a full, well rounded and identifiable brand or personal brand, there is value in a consistent message. I have included some personal examples below of my personal style & interiors style. My point here is to find the consistency, and it will most likely be an organic thing. For example, if hot pink is your signature colour, it is unlikely that your interiors (assuming you feature your interior in your personal brand communications) will be neutral. If your personal aesthetic is bohemian with a festival vibe, your interior will most likely reflect that & will not be minimalistic with modern furnishings etc.
The below examples of my personal aesthetic are exaggerated because I am taking the shot the same way each time. (But if you have a blog that is about your own personal style, taking photos in similar ways may be something to consider.) If you follow the SAMANTHA WILLS brand, you will know I use the term 'Luxe Bohemian' for our aesthetic, and given the synergy, I also use this to describe my own personal style aesthetic.
YOUR PERSONAL BRAND IS YOUR CURRENCY
Your Personal Brand is what will set you apart from everyone else. How do you get others to become an ambassador of your brand? As I have said above, good brands are consistent. Think about when you’re a consumer: you've been to a store on 5 different occasions, two of those visits were a great experience while the other three were substandard. You wouldn’t recommend that store to anyone.
Every great brand starts with a great vision – and guess what, you are the visionary of your own brand! It takes time to grow brand awareness, so be patient and consistent. Define who you are & how you want to be remembered.
If you have trouble doing this yourself, another way to start to define your personal brand (at the very least, get a read on what your current personal brand is) is to conduct a survey on yourself!
- What do people think about you?
- How do people really see you?
- What could you be doing better?
The most effective way to conduct one of these is a 360’ anonymous survey that you can send to people with the request of full disclosure, at completely anonymous submission.
‘Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room’ – Jeff Bezos, Amazon
So, as Oscar Wilde once said; ‘Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken.’ – SWx