You've probably come across the term “personal branding” before.
One of the best examples is Neil Patel.
He's turned himself into a very profitable brand, by establishing himself as a top authority in the digital marketing world.
Personal branding can also be great for your business — and for your product or service's brand.
People relate best to other people — human beings with whom they can identify.
Putting a human face on a company can have a profound effect on how people feel about a brand.
Even if you're selling a product, you can still create and leverage a personal brand, becoming the “face of the company” and giving people a face they can connect with.
A great way to start doing this is to create your brand's story — a narrative about how it was founded, with you as the main character.
It's an opportunity to show your human side, and to showcase the “why” of your business — the values and beliefs your brand represents.
From about 2007 or 2008 — alongside the rise of social media as a mainstream technology — we cultivated a mindset around building our personal brands (where the winners were the ones shouting the loudest).
In recent times, this evolution has continued as brand building has focused on greater authenticity, transparency and empathy. This evolution has been inspired by consumers who have become more demanding of the businesses that supply them of products and services.
Gone are the days where branding was considered a marketing activity purely for the benefit of the company doing it.
I’m sure that if you asked these companies why they have built brands that go beyond just a marketing activity, they’ll give you a variation of “This is just who we are” as an answer.
I don’t doubt that they had some commercial consideration when they started out; if they didn’t, they would probably not have used a business as a vehicle to pursue their respective missions.
But, they have gone beyond where most companies and brands are willing to go and they have more complete, wholesome and authentic brands as a result.
If this inspired you to reimagine your own brand or to start a new one, here are a couple of actions you can take today:
1. Start by figuring out your why.
Why are you in this thing and why are you working on this? Where did you start and what prompted you to start?
You can hide these truths or try to spin them in a way that you think is beneficial, but these truths are already inherent in your DNA.
The ancient zen saying rings true in this regard: “The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything.”
2. Define and write down your values.
What are the things that are most important to you? How are you pursuing these things and how do they relate to your “why”?
Our time is finite, which means that we’re always — consciously or subconsciously — prioritizing certain things instead of others.
Being clear about our values means we can take the actions and decisions in our businesses that align with our values.
3. Accept that all of this is your brand.
You can change the words on your website and you can plaster over the cracks of bad customer experiences with shiny graphics, but those things are already your brand.
Accepting that your brand doesn’t need to be perfect will set you free to go beyond mere brand building.
You don’t always have to represent your brand in this perfectly manicured way.
Consumers seek authentic connection.
You can learn more about personal branding, and how it can intertwine with your business's brand, over at Entrepreneur.