What is Personal Branding and How to Use It for Your Business

Posted by Wendy Marx

What is Personal Branding & How to Use It for Your Business

If you think that personal branding just benefits you, then you're mistaken. It's a strategy with far-reaching advantages that go beyond your brand. But to see why, let's answer the question, what is personal branding and then examine how a personal brand can support your business.

In this article, we'll provide a solid personal branding definition and practical ways your personal brand can help your business brand. Then, we'll top it off with some stellar personal branding examples of people who have rocked their personal brand and used it to bolster their business.

Click here to get the free ebook: 30 Proven Tips and Tactics to Get New Leads.

But first, we have to answer the question, what is personal branding? 

What is Personal Branding?

Personal branding is the strategy of establishing and promoting you, which includes your industry expertise, skills, experience, the kind of person you are and what you stand for.

what is personal brandingSome people balk at the idea of mixing their business and personal backgrounds, but in reality, it's what today's audiences wants. If people just hankered to know what kind of business person you are, then a short bio on your company's website would be enough. 

But people want to know more about you than what you do for business. They want to know what makes you you -- in essence, what makes you different from other professionals in your field. This might mean seeing you engage with them through video content or interacting with you on social media. Or it might mean learning a little bit about what you do behind the scenes -- your causes and interests.

Branding yourself is not a once-and-done deal. You can't do it for 6 months and then call it quits. It's an ongoing process of developing and managing your image through social media, content marketing, public speaking and other tactics. In short, you need to be in it for the long haul.

Now that we're on the same page as to a personal branding definition, let's shift gears and talk about how a personal brand can affect your business.

Why Your Business Needs You to Have a Personal Brand

First let's consider a question... What is a business?

Is it the logo? Is it the building that houses it? We would all of course answer with a resounding no.

personal branding definition-1While these things can represent a business, it's really the people behind the name who make a B2B business what it is. And what's more, before they interact with a business, prospects want to know the folks behind the scenes -- especially the CEO and other executives.

Personal branding isn't just a "meet and greet" tactic -- it goes deeper than that. Having a personal brand has been shown to have a meaningful impact on your business's bottom line. Consider a few tangible ways that your personal brand bolsters your business:

  • Builds credibility for when you need to secure capital. When it comes to obtaining investment opportunities, competition is high. A personal brand sets you apart. After all, one of the biggest guiding principles for investors is to buy into people rather than brands. Seeing that you've gained exposure and built a relationship of trust with your audience can go a long way in convincing potential investors to back your business.
  • Generates more buzz. It has been proven time and time again: A journalist is more likely to write a story about actual people than just about businesses. It's the people part of the equation that enlivens a story. We see a lot more "behind the scenes" articles that focus on the human side of a business than about businesses themselves. If you want more media coverage for your business, your personal brand might be just what the doctor ordered.
  • Differentiates your product. Especially in markets that are bogged down with product options, a personal brand differentiates you. So many companies have solid, reliable products. Much of the time, it's the name behind those products that make the difference between a sale and a hard pass. Establish your own expertise, build trust with your audience, and your products will likely do better.

This is why an effective personal branding strategy has the potential to impact your business's bottom line. 

But how can you build a personal brand that effectively builds a connection with your target audience and gets results for your brand? Let's look at 5 tactics that you can implement in your personal branding strategy today.

5 Personal Branding Tactics That Actually Work

1. Start Planning Early

personal branding strategiesStart thinking about what you want your reputation to be and how you want it to impact your company. Without planning, you could end up figuratively setting yourself into a mold that is hard to break later.

What do I mean? Basically, you could come away with a reputation that is harder to change down the road. First impressions are everything, so when it comes to your professional reputation, it's best to plan ahead.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I want people to see me?
  • What qualities do I want to be associated with my personal brand?
  • What parts of my life will I share with my audience?
  • What area of expertise do I want to be known for?
  • How will I showcase that expertise?
  • What channels will I use? 

Start off by creating a personal branding statement. This is one to two sentences that describe what you are  best at, whom you want to serve, and what makes you unique from your industry peers. This statement can help shape other aspects of your personal brand, including content creation, social media profiles, and promotion efforts.

If possible, it's best to decide all of this before your personal brand goes live. It is extremely difficult to change your reputation after it has been established, so take time to get it right the first time.

2. Steer Clear of Self Promotion

personal branding strategies (1)By its very title, personal branding may first come off as self-centered. But there's a definite difference between offering real value and shameless self -promotion. In essence, personal branding is more like building a solid reputation. And shameless self promotion is counterproductive to that. Instead of being trusted, self-promotion -- especially if you use false claims -- makes you appear as a scam artist.

What should you do instead? When you speak to your audience, whether it's through content, social posts or at an event, focus on being honest, authentic and transparent. Give your audience insights that help them in their personal journey. Share personal experiences that enhance the information you give. Avoid anything that could be viewed as a sales pitch. 

How does this help your brand? As people are attracted to your message and personality, they will naturally transition to your brand. If they need help and want to hire a company, yours might very well be the first that comes to mind. And because you've never pressured them with promotion, you will be more trusted.

3. Be Authentic

personal branding strategies (2)While we touched on this, let's take a deeper look at what it means to be authentic and why this matters.

Authenticity does not mean polished and always picture-perfect. In fact, it is the opposite. It shows people the real you, flaws and all. 

We've all seen videos of people who are super stiff and over-rehearsed -- and it's almost painful to watch. On the other hand, when someone is relaxed, with no script, speaking from the heart, it is inherently more powerful. Even if the person's speech and grammar isn't perfect, you're drawn to them. 

Why is that? Because such authenticity makes someone more down-to-earth and relatable. You can picture that person as your friend. That, paired with their expertise, makes you take notice when they give advice. 

4. Deliver Consistent Value

personal branding strategies (3)Of course, authenticity and transparency will take you only so far. If you don't back up your relatable image with solid value, your audience won't stick around.

What do we mean by value? You need to deliver content and advice that will help your audience to succeed. It could be providing solutions to  a common problem or insights into avoiding industry pitfalls. Do your research and uncover what issues and problems exist in your industry, as well as what fears people have. Then, use your expertise to provide solutions and allay fears.

The most common way to deliver this value is through content. Choose a format that will engage your audience. It could be blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts or some combination. or a combination .

Click here to get the free ebook: 30 Proven Tips and Tactics to Get New Leads.

5. Commit to a Regular Schedule

personal branding strategies (4)If you want to build a personal brand that makes a difference, then you can't disappear for long periods and then re-appear randomly with new content. You need to be dedicated to a regular schedule. Whether posting on social media, writing blogs, or delivering video content, your audience needs a regular connection to you.

This will also show them what kind of business you run. The more consistent you are, the more your audience will view your business as trustworthy and on the ball.

But admittedly, all of us get busy from time to time. The best way to keep up with your audience is to put your schedule down in writing. Download a content calendar like this one that can help you to plan ahead and build a solid strategy.

3 Exceptional Personal Branding Examples to Imitate

1. Oprah Winfrey

Even after years of her show being off the air, Oprah Winfrey is still a household name. Because she has won the trust of her audience through years of honest and authentic engagement, her business ventures are known to have the Midas touch of success. From her O magazine to her podcast, as well as her various partnerships through the years, her reputation has always provided a solid foundation. 

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2. Gary Vaynerchuk

With nothing more than a passion for wine and a good idea, Gary Vaynerchuk created his own YouTube channel, entitled, Wine Library TV. Over ten years later, he has created over 1,000 videos, written several books, and has a large, loyal audience across several channels. What started out as a fun, relaxed way to promote his family's wine business has blossomed into an international success and catapulted him to his current status as a digital media phenomenon.

Check out this video, where he looks back on over 10 years of Wine Library TV and how he built his personal brand from this platform.

3. Tim Ferris

Tim Ferris started his career as the author of The 4-Hour Workweek. He has since become the go-to authority on entrepreneurship and living your best life. He helps his audience through various channels, including his podcast and YouTube channel. But you quickly notice that no matter what channel you see him on, you always get the real person -- there is no "scripted" Tim Ferris. And that's one of the primary reasons  his audience loves him and continues to return for his advice and insights. See for yourself in the following video he recorded on creating a better morning routine.


In review...

5 Personal Branding Strategies That Actually Work

Personal branding is an important part of your business's overall strategy and should not be ignored as a secondary strategy. Help your company to thrive by creating your own effective personal branding strategy today.

How has personal branding helped your company? Let me know in the comments below.

Click here to get the free ebook: 30 Proven Tips and Tactics to Get New Leads.


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Feb 2, 2020

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx