This month, I’ll be speaking at a university to Journalism students on “Making Yourself a Brand.” While creating the content for the guest talk and workshop I’m hosting, it made me realise how many people don’t see themselves as a brand.
So let me ask you a question. I want you to really think about it.
Do you see yourself as a brand?
Do you? Think about it. If you said yes, then great. If you said no, here’s another question for you to answer…
Do you have your own website or blog?
I can guarantee a lot of you will say yes to that one. Now here’s the last question…
Are you on social media?
I’ll bet you’ve said yes to that too.
So do you want to know something?
You are a brand.
By having Facebook, by having Twitter, by having a blog – you all must feel that you’ve got something meaningful to share with others or else you wouldn’t do it – and that is a brand.
And this is what week two in the #bloggingbreakthrough series is all about.
And this is what you get as part of the #BloggingBreakthrough series:
- There’ll be a post going live every Friday morning on a different letter of the alphabet, all relating to terms in the blogging industry that we need to know.
- I’ve changed the Periscope day – so instead of a Periscope taking place every Friday afternoon, they’ll be happening on a Sunday. I thought I could reach more of you that way! These will reveal extra tips that won’t be included in the blog post.
- And if you sign up to join the #BloggingBreakthrough community, you’ll get access to a special freebie and even more tips every Monday.
But today, we’re focusing on...
A lot of people don’t see themselves as a brand or believe that they have a personal brand. But the truth is, we all do. Because ultimately, your brand is you.
Three Thoughts To Get You Started (& will also calm you down a bit…)
ONE: Yes, there’s this huge online world of people doing what you want to do. Let’s say you want to be an interiors writer and you look online and you see there are about 7 million other people doing this and you instantly get overwhelmed.
But the thought I want to give you is this:
You are very likely the only one out of all the people you know in your real life that does what you do. You’re probably the only interiors writer your family and friends know about. And this is actually an amazing thing, because if you’re able to build a strong online presence, give out useful information and develop your personal brand, then your friends and family and the people you know will have no choice but to recommend you to others.
So even if they’re not interested in what you do – if they hear someone say they need interior design tips, they’ll point them towards you.
TWO: You do not have to be an expert in your field. You don’t have to know everything. A lot of people have the impression that in order to have a “successful” online presence and brand you need to know everything about the industry you’re in. But you don’t. And you don’t need to feel like you need to be an expert about what’s currently trending either.
THREE: You don’t have to have a presence or a brand already. You don’t even need to have an audience. It’s better if you start from scratch and learn as you go along. Make mistakes and learn from them – then tell people about your progress. You’ll learn more about yourself this way.
And just a quick FYI for all you bloggers out there - it’s OK if you don’t have a huge audience you don’t need it. I’ll give you a quick example.
I’ve started doing Periscopes and on my first one I averaged just over 100 viewers. Another brand on Periscope has at least 100,000 page views every month. I’ve been checking out their scopes and they usually average around 158 viewers.
There’s only around 50 people in that difference. Yet our traffic is miles apart.
That’s why you don’t need a big audience.
And if you don’t blog but want to build an online presence, you don’t need to have built a solid brand yet. You get that by figuring out what it is you actually want to do and why. Believe me, I know how hard it is – I’ve been there.
Let’s Get To It: What Even Is Branding?
Branding is the image you’re projecting for others through all the platforms you are on. You as an individual are your brand, and these, what we call brand extensions – so your website, Twitter, your newsletter, your LinkedIn page - all work together to project your brand values to your community and audience. It’s about how you represent your values in your everyday life.
Everyone reading this has a brand whether you know what branding really is or not.
But the problem with “branding” is that there are so many different ways people think about it. Here are just some definitions that I’ve come across for the word branding:
In her eBook, Craft Your Brand, Kory said: “Branding is the framework that you create in addition to how people perceive you, your blog and your brand.”
Other definitions I’ve found include:
“Your brand is what people say about you when you walk out of the room.”
“Branding makes a genuine impression – it inspires.”
“Branding is an authentic representation of what you are offering, your vision behind it and how you walk through it.”
These are all true. These all encapsulate what branding is and what it means. But you can look at it in an even simpler way than this. And actually, the most important way to look at it is this:
Your brand is your why.
I want you to start thinking about this now, as we go through the rest of this post. Just keep it in the back of your mind.
What is your why? Why do you do what you do? Why is what you want to do for your career or personal brand important? What are your values?
Isn’t Branding Just About How Something Looks?
This is what we’re made to believe. But here’s a spoiler, friends – it’s not true.
If you read the word McDonald's, Nike, Pinterest, Topshop – the logo instantly appears in your mind, right? You can picture what they look like, just from one word.
But do you know what they stand for? Do you know what their values are?
You can have the most recognisable logo in the world, but if people don’t know what you do, it’s not a good brand.
The point here is that branding isn’t just about imagery and logos. That’s not what makes a brand. You don’t even have to have a logo to be an effective brand, but it helps. I’m actually in the process of getting my own logo redesigned – but it’s not affected my presence online. Why? Because people know what A Branch of Holly stands for.
Branding is more than just a logo. Most people think of a brand and just look at the design side of things but there’s so much more to consider.
Really, your design helps to encompass everything your brand is about.
Do you develop your brand through design? No. Because once your design is done, then it’s done. But there’s something else that will help you grow your brand – trust. Where do you get that trust?
Through your why.
What Is My Why & Why Do I Need It?
Figuring this out is how I started to completely transform my online presence. Once I figured out my why it changed everything. It changed my outlook, it changed the type of jobs I applied for and the type of content I created. If you unlock your why, it can be a game changer for you.
Why do you do what you do? Why do you blog? Why do you want a career in this industry? Why is that important? These are all questions you need to answer when finding out your why. Dig deep – the deeper you dig and the further you can go with the question, the more you’ll realise about yourself and your brand. But you’ll also discover a lot about who your audience is and ultimately, why you’re doing this.
You need to ask yourself some questions – and if you want to know what these are, sign up to join the #BloggingBreakthrough community to get a free workbook on Monday.
Really, your personal brand is affected by everything in your life. But mainly, it is defined by you and what you do. Every step in your career is a step towards developing your brand. You’re here now and reading this for a reason. It’s helping to develop your brand – it’s just up to you in what way it develops.
To help you see this a bit clearer, I’ll show you the example of how I figured out my why.
So, I run a website about believing in yourself, reaching your dreams and getting to where you want to be. I also produce content helping online beginners with using blogging and social media to help boost their online presence.
Well in the past, I struggled a lot in believing I was capable enough and didn’t believe that I could get to where I wanted to be. I didn’t think I could achieve the things I wanted to achieve. But now I’m here, I want to help others. I also struggled a lot with my blog and social media presence in the early stages of developing my brand. I wanted a strong presence but didn’t know how and I also didn’t know how these things could help me. Now I do, I want to show others how it can help them.
Because I know how difficult it can be when you’re in that place. I was in that place two years ago during this course. You feel stuck, you don’t know what direction to go in, you don’t know what’s best for you and you don’t know what to do, where to go or who to go to for help. You don’t think you can get there.
That’s why I blog. That’s what A Branch of Holly is about. Now I give that motivation, confidence and help to my readers that I needed myself.
Did you see how deep I went? That’s how deep you need to go to get to your why.
If you’re a food blogger, it’s not enough to say that your why is because you really like food. There’s usually something deeper.
The majority of what shapes a brand are the things that sometimes you can’t even see. They’re things that are inside and hidden away, even though your audience knows they’re there.
Knowing your why helps you narrow down on what you want to do, who you want to do this for, and lets you come up with endless ideas for content and resources. It can apply to anything.
Seeing and developing yourself as a brand gives you an identity that people can connect with. Whether you start a blog or put yourself on LinkedIn – that is your brand and you’re putting it out there. Soon enough you’ll be able to establish yourself for what you want to be known for, who you are and what you’re trying to do.
It’s so important to have an online presence. Think about it this way – when companies are hiring, 80% of them go on social media to look for potential applicant and 90% of them look on LinkedIn. If you want a successful career, you’ve got to be online.
You’ve got to be active. If you want to work in showbiz, tweet about showbiz. If you want to write about politics, talk about politics. Put that in your bio. Make it obvious what you want to be known for. It’s the best way to get started.
And that brings us back to what makes a brilliant brand in the first place – your why.
I’ve found mine. Now it’s up to you to find yours.
Because that, my friends, is what branding is really all about.
So if you skipped to the bottom, that's OK - we covered a lot today! But just to recap, here are the most important things you need to remember:
- You are a brand
- You need to unlock your "why" to really develop your personal brand
- You've got to be active and always embody what your brand is about
So there we go with the second letter of the #BloggingBreakthrough series! Look out for me on Periscope on Sunday when I'll be digging even deeper into this topic:
DEVELOPING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
Are you excited? Yes!
And if you sign up to join the #BloggingBreakthrough community, on Monday you'll get access to a free branding workbook to help you discover your true brand.
Let's chat in the comments. What's the one thing you learnt about "branding" today that you didn't know before? What's the one action item you got out of this post?