Unless you’ve been living in a bunker for the last 30 years, chances are good that you have some sort of digital footprint. You’re reading this article, for example, so we know that you use the internet. We’re even willing to bet that you have several online accounts and are on at least one major social media network. The point is, whether you planned to or not, you already have a personal brand.
Cultivating a brand can be a great way to achieve your personal and professional goals. Your image is already out there, so why not make it work for you?
In this article we’ll walk you through identifying which goals you want to master, show you some examples of people who are rocking their own personal branding, and give you tips and tools to make the most of your online presence.
Define your goals
Goals can be big (“I want a promotion”) or small (“I want more followers on Instagram”), personal (“I want to go on better dates”) or professional (“I want my business to grow”). Once you’ve identified what your goal is, your “brand” becomes much easier to define. Basically, your brand is any part of your image that is working to achieve your goals.
For example, let’s say James is trying to promote a book that he wrote about entrepreneurship. His goals are to reach a new audience, get reviews of his book, and establish himself as an entrepreneurial expert. When he posts inspirational content, it helps him connect with an audience that’s looking for the type of change that he covers in his book.
So at this point, instead of asking yourself “Is this on brand?” ask, “Is this helping to support my goal? Why or why not?” This will help you clarify things in your mind, and help you define exactly what your brand means to you.
Cultivate your brand
With these skills in mind, the next step is doing an audit of your online presence. Go through your social media accounts and Google yourself. Is the content that you’re finding helping to support your goals? Here are a few good places to start:
Profile pics and info about you
Experts are split on whether it’s better to have the same profile pic on all your social channels, or to tailor each one slightly to match each platform. There are pros to both. If you have the same profile pic across the board, it can help you be recognized more easily. However, if you use a different picture for each platform it can help communicate to people that when they follow you on Twitter or Facebook, they’re getting unique content that’s specific to each channel. The bottom line is, you should do what feels right for you.
Joy Cho is the Founder and Creative Director of Oh Joy!, a design studio, product line, and blog. She has the same profile picture across multiple platforms, but changes up her cover photo to showcase different products her company creates. (Can you spot the subtle logo in the photo?) She has a super defined aesthetic and all of the photos she posts have the same bright pastel color theme.
Tip: If you’re looking to start defining your aesthetic, it helps to make a moodboard. Collect images that inspire you and put them into a collage. Next, pick an image that especially gets at what you’re going for and make a color palette. Check out these templates in PicMonkey to get started.
Social posts and brand feel
When you’re posting you should think about the quality of the content, its aesthetic, and most importantly, who it’s meant to reach. Posts can be tricky since they touch on both brand voice and look and feel. All New James, our example from earlier, makes sure that his posts have positive, inspirational messaging. He’s chosen a modern look with pastel and neutral colors. You can edit any of our design templates and customize them with your own colors, fonts, and text.
Your Instagram feed really shows if you have a consistent aesthetic, since all your posts are in one place. Virginia Salas Kastilio is a top Snapchat influencer, but her Instagram feed is a great example of how having an authentic brand voice can help people connect with your content. Her pictures complement each other well, especially color-wise, but it’s the captions that give her followers the whole story.
Tip: Cultivating a brand voice might seem hard to do, but the most important thing is to be authentic. Let your personality shine through and don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind.
Blogs and personal websites
Did your Google search turn up a bit wonky? If your top results are random, like your high school track and field times or the 57 pins you saved to a Gilmore Girls Pinterest board, creating your own website is a great way to start ranking for stuff that’s relevant to your goals. For example, Bri Seeley is a life coach, author, and speaker. When you search her name, her website is not only the top result, but it occupies the top six search results before you even get to any of her social media accounts.
Once you’re on her site, she uses a minimal, yet bold hero image to share her main message. Every other section of the website is working to showcase a different aspect of her services, including coaching, speaking, and events. She uses tons of first-hand testimonials and each page ends in some sort of call to action, whether it’s to learn more about her or sign up for her newsletter.
Her blog is filled with content related to her business and retains the same minimal look as the rest of the site, she even keeps the pink from her scarf in the color of the CTAs. Having a blog is a great way to gain authority in a particular space and if you optimize each post for search engines, it’s an equally great way to introduce yourself to new people that are interested in your area of expertise.
Tip: If you have a pretty common name and didn’t turn up in your own search results, consider using your middle initial or a nickname on all your “official” accounts.