two women holding cutouts of speech boxes
Building your personal brand gives you the opportunity to choose how the world sees you. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

Choosing a personal brand is a rare opportunity to decide how the world will view you and — by extension — your company. It’s a task as exhilarating as it is daunting. Your personal brand announces who you are, who you are not and who you aspire to be.

Define your brand

Because authenticity is key to defining your brand, some self-examination is in order. Priyanka Raha, founder and CEO of PopSmartKids,advises taking the time to determine your true beliefs and building your brand on them.

Simon Sinek famously taught us the importance of knowing why we do what we do. It’s the ‘why’ that people buy, he says, not the ‘what.’ Your business will answer the what. Your personal brand should answer the why.

[Read more: Making Your Mark: How to Build Your Personal Brand]

Focus your message

You’re an entrepreneur. You’ve got ideas, dreams and interests that change over time — maybe even minute to minute. Let them inspire you, but don’t allow them muddle the message. Check them against your story.

As CEO of Bonobos, Micky Onvural knows that saying no to options and opportunities is crucial to maintaining focus. She believes that when it comes to branding, the ideas you choose not to pursue may be more important than those you do.

Your personal brand is the concise, curated story you’ve chosen to tell the world about yourself. Once you’ve written that narrative, stick to it. Stay focused on the message.

[Read more: The CEOs of Bonobos, Adore Me and Knot Standard Share Their Best Advice for Entrepreneurs]

Your personal brand is the concise, curated story you’ve chosen to tell the world about yourself

Create great content

Actions may speak louder than words, but in the age of the re-tweet, words don’t just speak — they reverberate. The content you share will be measured against the brand you’re building. If it supports the story you’re telling, it will pay big benefits.

By defining your brand, you’ve taken the difficult step of distilling the essence of who you are and what you stand for. Susan Somersille Johnson, CMO of Sun Trust Bank, calls this “clarity of purpose” and she advises leveraging it to build trust, motivate your audience, and drive positive change.

Content is your leverage tool. Become a resource. Build on your unique experience and expertise to create content that answers current, real world questions.

[Read more: 9 Questions for the Chief Marketing Officer of SunTrust Bank, Soon to be Truist]

Know where your customer is

You’ve created valuable, relatable content that reinforces your personal brand. Now consider that until someone views it, you aren’t sharing at all, you’re just offering. The ‘what’ and ‘why’ aren’t impactful without the ‘who’.

Identify your target audience and meet them where they live. Study the demographics of various platforms and hone in the ones that are the best match for you.

Hailley Griffis, head of PR for social media management tool Buffer, recommends choosing two or three networks and focusing on them. Better to choose the right platform and deliver a consistent message than to attempt being all things to all people.

[Read more: Don’t Spread Yourself Thin on Social Media. Here’s What to Do Instead]

Get visual

We all know what a picture is worth. Those thousand words a good photo replaces would take the average reader four minutes to consume — a digital lifetime. Photos convey information instantaneously and capture the viewer’s attention.

Photos are a powerful communication tool, so make sure everything about them speaks in support of your story. Taking your own pictures gives you more control. Through thoughtful composition, lighting and filtering, you choose the mood that reinforces your message. Even the placement of the photos on the page contributes to your visual brand. Take time to consider the details.

Videos, when done well, are more costly and time consuming to produce than photos — though your time and money will be well spent. According to LinkedIn, videos are shared 20 times more often than written content. That’s 20 times more people re-telling your story. As with photos, be certain the subject and tone of your videos reinforces your personal brand.

Many platforms don’t allow control of all visual aspects of your content. When you’ve got a choice of backgrounds, fonts and color schemes, choose those that mesh with your message. Be as consistent as the technology will allow. Remember, it’s your story and you’re sticking to it.

[Read more: 3 Expert Strategies for Building a Strong Brand]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published August 13, 2019