The PR BlogPublic RelationsPR StrategyHow To Build Your Personal Brand

How To Build Your Personal Brand

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Are you look­ing to evolve your per­son­al brand?

We all have the tools to build our per­son­al brands with the inter­net. This means that you can take meas­ures to devel­op and strengthen your brand, wheth­er you’re a social media nat­ur­al or not. 

But how?

Step 1. Identify Your Personal Brand Assets

What do you bring to the table?

Some are smart. Some are beau­ti­ful. Some are well-spoken. Some have spe­cial skills or tal­ents. Some are cre­at­ive. Some know stuff. Some have excit­ing lives. Some have great taste. Some are inspir­ing. Some are funny. Some have grit. Some have cour­age. Some are weird. Some are bru­tally hon­est. Some are vul­ner­able. Some are just wicked charm­ing in front of a web camera.

You should fig­ure out what assets you have and write them down.

The more assets you have, the bet­ter. You don’t have to belong to the top 1% in the world for your chosen strengths, but you need to be able to pull it off in the eyes of your future audi­ence.

Also, fig­ure out if there’s any­thing you can do to devel­op fur­ther and enhance these assets — or com­bine them. By ask­ing for an audi­ence, you ask people for their par­tic­u­lar atten­tion. You need to do your part, which includes increas­ing your chances of being attract­ive to oth­er people who don’t know you.

Action: Write down your most sub­stan­tial or unique assets, and based on these assets — write down a sen­tence clearly describ­ing how you will cre­ate value for a spe­cif­ic audience.

Step 2. Identify Your Surround Message

Based on your assets and your sen­tence describ­ing how you’ve decided to cre­ate value for your audi­ence — find your cent­ral message.

You need to fig­ure out what you’re about — and it must only be one thing. Maybe you want your pas­sion for food to rub off on oth­er people. Or, maybe you want to be an inspir­a­tion to female entre­pren­eurs? Whatever you choose as your sur­round mes­sage, it must be some­thing that you’re genu­inely inter­ested in.

Whenever you make some­thing pub­lic, wheth­er it’s a pod­cast epis­ode or an inter­view with a journ­al­ist, use your sur­round mes­sage to ensure that everything you do or say is aligned with your message.

If your mes­sage is that you want your pas­sion for food to rub off on oth­ers, you must­n’t pub­lish any­thing that isn’t pas­sion­ate through and through. If your mes­sage inspires female entre­pren­eurs, you must­n’t pub­lish any­thing inspirational.

Action: Identify and write down your sur­round mes­sage — make it sound like your most import­ant mis­sion in life.

Step 3. Decide Your Main Output

To be per­ceived as any­thing, you need a main out­put that is also con­sist­ent. It could be vlogs, pod­casts, blog posts, social media updates, sem­inars, pub­li­city, etc. It’s okay to jump back and forth between dif­fer­ent out­put forms, but you need to pub­lish to one plat­form consistently.

For instance, con­sider run­ning a pod­cast if your assets include hav­ing a great voice, some storytelling skills, and excit­ing life. The choice of the main out­put is not only to start build­ing an audi­ence and stick­ing to your sur­round mes­sage, although that is part of it. Each type of out­put comes with a par­tic­u­lar format. And it would help if you prac­tice, prac­tice, prac­tice to find your unique tonality.

Today, most indi­vidu­als con­sidered per­son­al brands have ded­ic­ated much energy to estab­lish­ing them­selves long-term via a spe­cif­ic out­put format. Whatever main out­put you choose, I recom­mend giv­ing it no less than two years. 

Action: Choose one main out­put and stick to that format con­sist­ently for at least 1 – 2 years.

Step 4. Enhance Your Unique Quirks

We are all unique snow­flakes. However, most of us are still being put into bor­ing boxes with labels by oth­ers. Case in point: I’m a white male in the media industry; hav­ing a blog hardly makes me unique in most people’s eyes. If noth­ing else, aspir­ing per­son­al brands must make people remem­ber them.

There’s a fine line here between “inter­est­ing” or “insane” and between “cool” or “corny”. Bono from U2 can pull off wear­ing bright, yel­low-tin­ted shades every­where, but the chances are that you or I can­’t. Be care­ful. Other than that, hustle until you no longer have to intro­duce yourself.

Action: Identify and write down 3 – 5 unique quirks and allow them to sur­face con­sist­ently in your chosen main output.

Step 5. Start Your Sensory Expansion

It would be best if you built a rap­port with an audi­ence. Once you start get­ting a few fol­low­ers who seem to appre­ci­ate the kind of brand you’re try­ing to estab­lish, focus on allow­ing them to get to know the real you.

How will you let your fans see your phys­ic­al appear­ance in vari­ous situ­ations? How will you let them hear your voice in a dif­fer­ent set­ting? How are you going to let them exper­i­ence your thoughts? How are you going to make them feel what you feel?

Video is a tre­mend­ously strong format for allow­ing an audi­ence to con­nect with you simply because it’s the closest thing to meet­ing someone. If you hap­pen to be a social media nat­ur­al for Youtube, con­grat­u­la­tions; your chances of suc­ceed­ing will increase.

Action: Make sure your fans know how you look and sound. Let them know what you feel, how you think and react. 

Step 6. Recruit a Social Media Crew

In the age of social media, social con­nec­tions have an amp­li­fy­ing effect. If you have a friend with sim­il­ar interests who is also try­ing to estab­lish their per­son­al brand, you could “share” your audi­ences with each oth­er. This could allow you to double the pro­gress of your efforts.

The more, the mer­ri­er, but adding people to your circle of influ­ence can be more com­plex than it seems. Your friends must, too, be sol­id and per­sist­ent brand build­ers. And, they must, just like you, from time to time sac­ri­fice their ego own ego on the altar of reci­pro­city—some­thing very few people can muster.

Action: Find 1 – 5 oth­er aspir­ing per­son­al brands with sim­il­ar interests and boost each oth­er continuously.

Step 7. Accept Your Brand Challenges

An “elec­tric­al charge” to your per­son­al brand can be com­pel­ling. You could, for instance, give your­self dif­fer­ent chal­lenges and allow your audi­ence to fol­low you on your jour­ney to meet those chal­lenges. People love stor­ies, and stor­ies need enemies and obstacles. 

From a brand-build­ing per­spect­ive, the great thing about chal­lenges is that they seem highly enga­ging before, dur­ing, and after. Before tak­ing on a chal­lenge, you invoke sup­port, sym­pathy, and respect afterwards.

Take action — it speaks louder than words.

Action: Identify and accept at least one pub­lic chal­lenge and allow your audi­ence to exper­i­ence it through you.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: The Rebel Yell Statement

Billy Idol - The Rebel Yell Statement
The man, the myth, the rebel. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

The Rebel Yell Statement

Copywriter Kevin Rogers pub­lished this simple yet effect­ive script to improve your storytelling, the rebel yell state­ment, named after the legendary rock anthem by Billy Idol.

Here’s the rebel yell state­ment script for you to try: 

My name is _________, I love _________ but was fed up with _________. So I cre­ated _________ that _________.

Here’s an example by Rogers on Steve Jobs:

My name is Steve, I love com­puters but was fed up with the snail’s pace of com­mer­cial tech­no­logy. So I cre­ated a user-friendly com­puter that pro­cesses inform­a­tion faster than any­thing else out there today.

Here’s the rebel yell state­ment I wrote for this blog, Doctor Spin:

My name is Jerry, I love PR, but was fed up with “social media experts” giv­ing cli­ents bull­shit advice. So I cre­ated Doctor Spin to share action­able insights based on aca­dem­ic research, hands-on exper­i­ence, and passion.

Learn more: 3 Ways to Improve Your Storytelling (in 15 Minutes)

PR Resource: The Follower Contract

The Follower Contract

Many brands must rethink their approach to hav­ing fol­low­ers, fans, and sub­scribers. Having a brand com­munity is your priv­ilege, not theirs. How can you hon­our their engagement?

Think of every single fol­low­er, fan, and sub­scriber hav­ing this agree­ment with your brand:

Dear Brand,

  • Yes, I’m now fol­low­ing you. Congratulations (to you).
  • I fol­lowed you based on what you’ve demon­strated in the past, so don’t be sur­prised if I’ll stop enga­ging (or unfol­low­ing) if you do oth­er stuff.
  • You now have my per­mis­sion to provide me with the type of con­tent that first attrac­ted me to your brand.
  • I, the fol­low­er, will determ­ine any involve­ment on a future case-by-case basis.
  • My fol­low is not a ‘pay­ment’ for your past accom­plish­ments; my fol­low is an ‘advance pay­ment’ for what I expect from you in the future.
  • It would be best if you always pre­sup­posed that I’m inter­ested in myself and my friends first and then, maybe, in your brand.
  • Until we part ways, I expect you to be clear about my poten­tial involve­ment in your cause.

Best regards,
Your New Follower

Read also: The Follower Contract

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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