We have talked about the many benefits of having a strong and visible personal brand (eg. earning up to 13 times more than those without one!). So where do you start building a personal brand? With a story of course. Your story.
When people first hear about you, what would you want them to hear? What is it you want to be known for? Sure, it would be nice to be known for random things like having a great personality or being hard working… but what really sets you apart is the story of why you are who you are, or what makes you work in a certain way. This starts with knowing yourself.
Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help. They might seem like pretty big questions but it’s important to know this for yourself before you move forward. Write down your answers on a piece of paper so that you’re able to visually see it and make sense of it.
What brings me joy?
What is my superpower – the one thing I can do better than anyone else?
What makes me different – why should people listen to me?
What are my values – the things I will never compromise on?
What is my Why?
What are my goals – the things I want to achieve in this career / lifetime?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you be clearer about who you are. If you’re not clear about who you are, it’s hard to expect others to be clear as well. And when they’re not clear about who you are and what you can offer them, they will find someone else to provide that same service. Don’t let that happen. Remember, your answers don’t have to be big or grand. Just keep it simple and be honest with yourself.
Have a clear focus
After doing the exercise above, you might realise that you have many things that bring you joy, or many superpowers, many “whys” and many values. That’s okay, but for the purpose of crafting your personal brand story, you need to have a clear focus. It’s similar to writing a resume for a specific company. You would only include the items that are relevant to that company. In the same way, think of your target audience – the people who will be knowing you in a professional context – and include things that are relevant. Keep it simple.
Always be genuine
You would think that peer pressure ends after high school but sometimes it doesn’t. In the professional workspace, it might be tempting to compare yourself to someone else whom you think is “more successful” or “more influential”. You might even feel like becoming just like them, emulating their personality and what they believe in. While admiration is alright, remember that there is only one YOU. Stay true to yourself as you go through this process. Be genuine because that is usually the most attractive thing about a person. Being genuine brings true value and builds trust.
Craft your narrative and backstory
Once you have some answers, you can begin to organise these details into a narrative. A narrative is a spoken or written account of connected events. It is bringing together all the details you have chosen to use, and making sense of it all in one story. This could also be where “backstory” comes in. What’s a backstory? Think of your favourite movie character. There’s a good reason why you’re attracted to his or her personality – beyond their good looks of course. It’s probably because of their “Why”.
Peter Parker’s (aka Spiderman) backstory or origin story isn’t just that he was bitten by a spider giving him superhero spidey senses. It’s that he witnessed his uncle being a victim of a fatal robbery which he could have prevented. This was a profound moment that changed his life forever. It’s the reason why he will always try his best to keep his city safe even when it’s inconvenient or daunting.
So what’s your backstory? What’s your “Why”? Why are you so passionate about that craft or cause? Why do you value certain things or uphold a certain work ethic in life? Why can people trust you when you speak about a certain topic? All this becomes part of your personal brand story.
How does all this support a Personal Brand?
Knowing your Personal Brand story will help you create content and conversations that align with your personal brand. It’s like a compass, always giving you a consistent point of reference. A truth north.
One of the best ways to tell your story is by showing it visually and always using images that give people a consistent idea of your personal brand. This includes your professional headshot or the images you use on your public and professional social media platforms. Think about the kind of visual style that relates to your Personal Brand. If your Personal Brand paints you as a person with an approachable and warm personality and as someone who cares about quality, you would want your photos to look like that too.
Videos are also a great way to introduce yourself too. It sets the stage for your Personal Brand story. Here’s an example:
We have just launched the Stories Visual Brand Kit which will give you a great head start for building your personal brand. It includes five stunning headshots or lifestyle shots that are professionally photographed either at our studio or your location of choice, and a sleek 90-second video that shows people who you are and what you are passionate about. Because it’s a new package, we’re putting it out there at a very affordable introductory rate. We want to see freelancers, budding entrepreneurs, and passionate creatives like you GROW in your business. Find out more about the Stories Visual Brand Kit below.