10 Components to Build Personal Brand
⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten ⌛
In 2019, all of us are an online brand. Whether you’re in a position that gets you in front of thousands of people or just love posting photos of your cute puppy on Instagram, you are cultivating a brand.
As a millennial, I started my online brand years ago. It commenced with the MySpace/Facebook era. (Confession: At the time, I didn’t want a MySpace account. My sister made me one so I could be her top friend. Ah, the days of virtual anonymity.) I ventured into photo sharing and editing on Flickr and then the subsequent social media accounts, like Twitter, Instagram and the like.
Over time, I have evolved from the daydreaming, sometimes complain-y, always-wanting-an-A student to a public relations practitioner who owns a successful company. Although my personal brand has evolved and now includes my R middle initial and APR designation, some things never change. Namely, using “I Dream of Jeannie” gifs, dreaming of Paris, writing up a storm and wearing my heart directly on my sleeve.
If you want to sell a product or service, advocate for a cause or become an influencer (and monetize on your efforts), honing in on your personal brand will be beneficial by leaps and bounds.
Here are 10 essential components to consider when developing your brand or undergoing the rebranding process:
Values will vary based on your individual personality, upbringing, environment and other psychological/sociological/etc. factors. It helps to know what you stand for and what you deem the most important values and attributes. For example, you could add timeliness as a value because you strive to always be on time. Honesty, authenticity and equality are also examples of values. You could choose to use your values list in your mission statement or mantras/affirmations. You could also keep them to yourself and ensure that your brand remains cohesive based on what you believe in.
Why do you do what you do? What makes you who you are? A mission statement could be as simple as a LinkedIn headline or it could be a full-fledged thesis statement of your brand. In that case, think of it like a business’ mission statement. I recently rebranded my personal website and plan to redirect www.kaylinstaten.com to it soon. My general “mission” pertains to who I am and what I do: Introverted Media Darling. Public Relations Practitioner. Writer. Business Owner. Storyteller. My bio at the bottom of this blog post is also a more expansive view of my mission and overall identity.
You’re only as good as the stories you tell. Storytelling is perhaps the most vital element on this list because your efforts could fall flat with a less-than-compelling story. Keep in mind to always be authentic. Being true to yourself is your best feature, and it helps you tell in-person and online stories. For example, I keep my professional stories focused on Hourglass Media, writing, photography, causes and projects. Personally, I reveal behind-the-scenes glimpses into my life, such as my marriage, travels, cats, niece, food, nostalgic family memories and more. Tell stories that let people know more about you, and be sure to stay on brand.
If you’re a communications professional and create brands for clients or your organization, treat yourself to the same privileges. Choose a color scheme, fonts, taglines and more. I use a merlot, black and white color scheme for my personal endeavors with cursive and serif fonts. Most of my photos are black and white, with the exception of my photography portfolio. I was going for that moment when Dorothy steps into Munchinland for the first time, entering a Technicolor world and leaving her sepia-toned past behind.
Using social sites is an important component to showcase your personal brand, but owning at least one platform is recommended. Not that this would happen, but what if all of your content was lost from every social media site? (Sidenote: Back up everything!) You want to point people to one general location. For me, it’s my personal website. You’re able to make changes as needed to the aesthetic and content while maintaining your brand your own way. Control freaks, unite!
One of my personal and professional values is consistency. I do let myself slide a little when it comes to my personal brand, but I do recommend consistency. My profile photos may vary from site to site, but I do have an official headshot I use on LinkedIn, my website and in every professional reference. My general rule of thumb is to use a photo of myself for each profile photo. Post on a regular basis, use the same tone of voice and do things only in line with your brand.
A Master Plan
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Why do I need a master plan for my personal brand? I do that every day professionally!” Even if you don’t have a full-scale Research, Planning, Implementation, Evaluation (RPIE) plan, at least have a general idea of your 5 Ws and 1H (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How). For example, if you want to market your new self-published book, create a communications plan to help you sell books and raise awareness of your products and personal brand.
Code of Ethics
Most of us have a personal beliefs system, but it could also be helpful to have a Code of Ethics to live by. It could be from a professional organization (mine is the Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics) or a code you create yourself. You may implement a no-cursing rule in your social media posts or disclose conflicts of interest when they arise. And please, if you get paid in money or products for something you post, always use #sponsoredpost or #ad.
Don’t be afraid to showcase your thought leadership! If you have a passion for something, let it be known. You can help others and glean information and tips from your followers as well. I’m extremely passionate about mental health. While I am not a clinical expert in the subject, I live with anxiety every day. So, I consider myself a veteran in handling certain anxious situations and tribulations. If you have a skill, cause or something that someone could benefit from knowing, share it with the world. You never know when you will change someone’s perspective.
Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.