Brand Yourself

Create a brand around YOU and grow your influence online

Everyone understands the importance of having a website for your organization. Nobody I talk to ever underestimates its importance in attracting customers and informing them of your company’s core values, culture or products. It’s an essential part of making money online.

But people miss the giant opportunity of doing the same thing for themselves. (I should know – I did!) After all, the brand of YOU is not so different from that of a company – and certainly no less important. You need to brand yourself. Not convinced? Don’t we already spend a lot of time out there in the world trying to persuade friends, family, partners, and colleagues that we’re trustworthy, kind, generous, intelligent, great lovers, etc.? You want people to believe certain things about you, your interests and your values.

Tiles with the words "who are you?" written on

Personal Branding

Your website is not simply your brand on the internet. It’s how social media platforms relate and understand who you are and what your expertise is. These platforms and search engines, like Google, are the keys to your target audience.

You want to make it as easy as possible for these platforms, which control access to your audience, to understand your authority and expertise. When done correctly, they will reward you with visibility and greater reach. Bottom line: influence in your target market.

The Conventional Route

You decide on your business sector and then choose a company name that reflects it. Like most small businesses.

Example: You want to teach people marketing?

You think of relevant words… perhaps you settle on Buzz Marketing Inc. because you’re all about creating a buzz. Then you picture the logo with a bee in it; the brand colors are black and yellow… suddenly you can see it all – you’ve created a brand.

And it’s a perfectly legitimate path.

Branding in the 2020s

But I want you to think about another route: using your name. I know – uncomfortable!

But people buy from people – not businesses. In the 2020s, the age of the individual, you have to be your own brand.

I took A LOT of convincing. I am a very private person and an introvert. I don’t hang out on social media, and I don’t want to be putting myself ‘out there’. So, if you’ve already shouted a hard “no” at your screen, I get it. That was my response, too. In fact, it still amazes me I ever changed my mind because doing this just isn’t me at all.

But here are 10 reasons why you must:

  1. One word: opportunity! When you put yourself ‘out there’, the strangest thing happens – your luck changes. You can never be in the right place at the right time if you’re not out there in the first place. Take more chances – get more luck.
  2. Yes, it’s scary, but when you show your face to the world, you connect with people. Sure, for some, you just won’t be their flavour. But others won’t be able to get enough. They’ll become your super-fans who buy everything you release.
  3. People know where to find you. I know, it sounds appalling. But remember, you’re an expert. You must be. You’ve got a website, a course, or an eBook! People will ask you to appear on podcasts, radio shows, presentations, talks, or partner with them on a new product. Greater awareness leads to greater revenue.
  4. Nobody else can offer what you can because nobody else can be you. They don’t have your viewpoint, expertise, and experience. Your unique perspective differentiates you in the market, and that’s much more powerful than a faceless company name.
  5. You can pivot. This is especially important when you start out because you might discover that your original path leads you somewhere else – or just doesn’t work out. Not cutting it in your chosen field of marketing? Buzz Marketing Inc. has you in a straitjacket. But when it’s your name, you can just pivot and relaunch with something else because YOU are the subject, not marketing (or surfing or pet food).
  6. You also make your business infinitely scalable – now you can outgrow marketing and move into PR, communications, graphic design, website design, etc.
  7. When it’s your name and your reputation at stake, you’re more likely to show up, more likely not to quit, and more likely to succeed. Because now you NEED to.
  8. People are more likely to remember you than your business name. And you’ll build connections, trust and credibility like only a real person can.
  9. You get to control the narrative – people will Google you (heck, you’ve probably Googled yourself!). Don’t let the first thing they read about you online be written by someone else. Take control!
  10. Your personal brand immediately imbues your products or services with those same characteristics. That’s difficult to convey as a faceless business. Bottom line: if you’re seen as trustworthy and reliable, people are more likely to buy from you. You’ll get more leads and higher conversions.

It will feel unnatural, and you’ll have imposter syndrome, but making your brand be… well, YOU, will immediately separate it from all others. And showing people different aspects of your personality and who you are will make them feel more invested in your journey – and, therefore, more likely to buy from you.

Not an expert yet? Instead, talk about your process or the journey so far. People value honesty and learning from someone who has walked in their shoes – not someone putting up a front and overselling themselves.

Middle-aged man scheduling a tweet on his phone

Consistency = Growth

However you post, whether it’s on YouTube or a blog, you must post every week. Ideally, more than once. For social media, you’ll want to post daily. The algorithms reward consistency (and quality), which are crucial to making this successful.

It can be a lot of work you don’t really have time for when you’re starting out. So, for me, the key was to create a simple system and automate it as much as possible. If I write ‘edit YouTube video’ in my calendar and set it to repeat every Thursday evening, I’m much more likely to do it than if I’m just waiting for some free time during the week.

If you can, batch! It’ll cost you a little more money, but if you get a social media scheduling tool like SocialBee ($19/month), you can write all of next week’s social posts at the same time on a Saturday morning – then set and forget.

Photo of Richard Branson, the King of Brand Yourself

Personal Brands

Think about some of the most successful people in business. Ok, so being very successful makes you famous. But the really big ones understand the value of a strong personal brand and use it to further their business interests. There’s a good chance the first successful person you thought of was Richard Branson. You may not think so, but he’s actually a very introverted man (I’ve sat with him at home in his kitchen – trust me, he’s very shy). However, he reluctantly became the face of his company (later, companies) and used his personal brand to become a multi-industry leader.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

– Anais Nin

Love them or loathe them, putting themselves out there has made Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian, Oprah Winfrey and Tony Robbins very successful. It’s just a good business strategy. And while it still makes me feel deeply uncomfortable, the above quote reminds me to ask, “Just how much do I want change?”

A printed resume on a clipboard

Your Own Public Resume

At the very least, you can use this as a springboard for something else. Like it or not, people are going to Google you and see what you’re doing now. Someone will have already tagged you on Facebook or shared a picture of you from school. So, why not own the narrative? Rather than let people put 2+2 together and get 5, use your own personal website as a giant resume to showcase what you want them to know – whether that’s your job, career, focus, side hustle, professional skills, or network. It might feel like phoney self-promotion, but unlike everything else out there about you, at least it will be accurate and well-researched!

I’ve found that people are interested in what you’re doing now, and often eager to help. You can build relationships (professional, personal, with lapsed friends or otherwise) and connect with potential employers, potential customers, new clients, or whatever else you want out of your own website.

Man writing "final thoughts" on the screen

The Bottom Line

Just be you! Authenticity is all too rare in this world, which perhaps lends it even greater value. People know it when they see it, and they appreciate it. So, don’t worry. It may be slow at first, but your audience will find you. And if you’re worried about looking like the big ‘I am’ giving out advice – instead, talk about the process or how you came to understand it and master it.

Click on another of the 4 modules in the Butterfly System to learn more…