Personal branding is a hot topic for women entrepreneurs and leaders looking to grow their audience, and rightly so, since a powerful personal brand can have a major impact on your bottom line. Your brand is the essence of what makes you you, and when you position it strategically to your audience, it can build your credibility and boost your company’s sales.
Now more than ever, buyers are looking for authentic and inspiring businesses they can trust, and they’re looking way, way up. Over 80 percent of buyers are more likely to trust a company when its executives have an active social media presence, and 77 percent are more inclined to buy from that company.
People do business with people they like. So, how do you build a personal brand that captures your essence and your customers’ attention? In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about building a powerful personal brand as a female entrepreneur, starting with the foundational elements, including:
- A concrete personal branding definition.
- Why personal branding is essential to your growth as an entrepreneur.
- How to get started developing your personal brand.
- How to leverage personal branding to grow your audience.
What is Personal Branding?
As I mentioned in a recent podcast episode, personal branding is what makes you stand out in a sea of sameys, and requires an understanding of the unique skills, experiences, and personality traits you want to share with the world.
Wikipedia gives this personal branding definition: “The conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition.”
Two keywords I want to focus on are “conscious” and “intentional.” As an entrepreneur and leader, branding yourself is an opportunity to not only share your story, but also shape your reputation. Once you’ve decided what you want to be known for, make it a part of your story, then allow yourself to be recognized for those characteristics and competencies. Remember, authenticity is key to building trust, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.
Just like a company’s brand communicates its unique value proposition and personality, a personal brand tells audiences who an individual is and what they stand for. It can be easy to confuse the two when it comes to how to market yourself. Which voice should you use, and how do you separate your brand from your organization’s brand? Your personal brand—who you are—comes first. That’s because, as I’m about to demonstrate, people need to feel like they know you before they’ll buy from you.
Uncovering a unique voice is a major problem shared by women entrepreneurs today. Find your voice with my FREE webinar on January 19th: “Ridiculously Bold, Astoundingly Brazen: Command Cash With Your Most Un-Copiable Marketing Voice”. Register today!
Why is Personal Branding Important?
When competition is stiff, personal branding can help you break through the noise by staking your claim in the market, elevating your reputation, and expanding your network.
Branding yourself starts with finding the unique qualities that help you stand out from your competition. Maybe you want to highlight your expertise, your beliefs, or your quirky personality traits. Whatever you decide to focus on, now is the time to lean into your eccentricities and let your gorgeous self shine!
When you have a personal brand that clearly articulates who you are, what you do, and what value you bring to your market, you open the doors for like-minded people to connect with you. As your network grows, so does your credibility as a reliable and relatable business owner. The more meaningful connections you make, the more likely people will be to see you as a go-to source for thought leadership, trend forecasting, and—most importantly—expert services.
So, now that you know the impact a strong personal brand can have on your company’s success, how do you create one? Here are 8 actionable strategies for achieving an elite and enviable personal brand.
How to get started developing your personal brand
1. Align Yourself With A Mission.
A personal brand is more than a logo, font, and colour palette—though, we’ll talk about the importance of maintaining a consistent visual style later—it’s a profound statement of who you are and what you represent. Think about some of the amazing women who have influenced your life and business. Many of these fierce female leaders have invested their time and energy into a cause as well as a company; helping to move the needle on important social issues like women’s rights.
Take Cindy Eckert, for example. The serial entrepreneur is a strong advocate for women. Having started and sold two businesses for more than $1.5 billion, Cindy now invests in and mentors other women looking to “smash the pink ceiling.” She has a social media following of over 80,000 and has been featured in Fortune, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Vanity Fair. As her website says, “You cannot miss Cindy. Everything she touches turns to pink.”
The benefits to aligning yourself with a mission go beyond building a strong following and reputation. It’s widely recognized that consumers prefer purpose-driven brands. Back in 2015, a Nielsen poll found that 2 in 3 consumers are willing to pay higher prices for products and services from brands with a social impact mandate.
“A Nielsen poll found that 2 in 3 consumers are willing to pay higher prices for products and services from brands with a social impact mandate.”
So, how do you find your mission? Consider making a list of all the things that make you mad, sad, and glad. Then, identify where you can make a difference. This can be an effective exercise for uncovering worthwhile causes to invest your time and energy in.
2. Show Your Strengths.
Many of the women I meet feel building a personal brand is little more than a vacuous, attention-seeking activity when, in reality, it is so much more than that. It’s an opportunity to take charge of your success by strategically showcasing your strengths to the world.
Let’s consider the United States’ former First Lady, Michelle Obama. During her time as FLOTUS, she made significant improvements on a number of social issues in the U.S., including the support of military families and the role of women in the workplace. She faced criticism head-on, and put her strengths—compassion, confidence, and candidness—to work on the frontline. There’s no denying that woman has a powerhouse personal brand. Some say Michelle’s brand is more influential than her husband’s, now that Barack Obama is no longer in office.
When developing your personal brand, don’t be afraid to set yourself up by demonstrating your expertise as it relates to your particular field. Identifying your strengths may take a bit of self-work. Again, I recommend making a list to guide you.
3. Focus And Find Your Niche.
Once you know what you want to say, you need to figure out who you’re going to say it to. In this conversation on The Sigrun Show, I talk about the importance of niching down to become a company of one. Niching is the act of focusing your offer on a specific group of people. Think about who you want to help, specifically, and target your offer towards them. It might seem like a scary concept at first, but it is essential for building your reputation as a specialist in your field. After all, until you know your niche, how can anyone know you?
Because it requires you to consider your customers as individuals and respond to their particular needs, niche marketing can help you create long-standing relationships. And, as we know, relationships are key to succeeding in business. You want your personal brand to resonate with your target audience, so keep these folks in mind when marketing yourself, and it’ll be easier to create content they love.
To narrow your focus, make a list of your competitors and take a close look at the problems they aren’t solving for your clients. These gaps are where you can find your niche. Test the concept with a few of your close connections. If it seems like a good fit for your business, run with it!
4. Embrace the Power of Association.
There’s power in partnerships. If you’re just starting out, it can be helpful to align your personal brand with a bigger brand that already has an influence on your target audience. Why? Partnerships act like public endorsements of you, your products, and your services. When you partner with a like-minded business or brand, you become instantly likable and trustworthy in the eyes of your customers, like a recommendation from a good friend.
So, how do you decide who to partner with? There are three things you should look for in a potential partner: Offering a product or service complementary to yours; catering to the same target audience; and sharing the same values. Scan your networks and identify these connections.
5. Be Authentic.
If there’s one thing your personal brand must be, it’s authentic. Today’s consumers are searching for brands they can trust, and they’ll sniff out the slightest hint of insincerity. A whopping 99% of consumers consider authenticity to be crucial when deciding which brands they like and support.
“99% of consumers consider authenticity to be crucial when deciding which brands they like and support. “
One of the easiest ways to develop an authentic personal brand is to make sure you come across as human, with the same issues and problems as your target audience. The difference is you’ve found solutions to these problems—and you’re willing to share them, for a price.
6. Be Consistent.
Consistency is another critical factor in establishing trust with your market. Your audience needs to know they can count on you to be yourself in every situation. That means staying true to your convictions, no matter the cost.
Consider our feminist gladiator, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has been hailed as a model of female influence, authenticity, and dignity throughout her career. As this 2019 article in The Atlantic says, Ginsburg’s secret as an enduring feminist voice “seems to be that, even in a time of reality-show presidential rule and shifting narratives, she remained unwaveringly who she had always been—as controlled at the core as she was in the now-vanished world of postwar Brooklyn.”
When people know what to expect from you, it becomes much easier to get recognized for one area of expertise. Consistency can also extend to your visual style and professional presentation. If you commit to sending an e-newsletter every two weeks, then you better send one every two weeks.
7. Define Your Visual Style.
How you show up matters. I’m not only talking about your professional appearance, but also your logo, font, and colour palette. Your visual style should be a representation of your personal brand. From your website, social media accounts, and business cards, to any other marketing materials, take care in how you represent yourself. Remember that your personal brand is even more important than your company’s brand.
Of course, if we’re talking style, we need to look at Anna Wintour. As the editor-in-chief of American Vogue and the artistic director of Condé Nast, Anna has built a solid personal brand as one of the most influential figures in fashion. The icon said it best herself when she answered the question, “What should one wear to an interview at Vogue?” in an episode of Go Ask Anna. “We’re not hiring your wardrobe. Your wardrobe is not going to be doing the job for you. It’s who you are…you have to dress for yourself,” she said. Let your personality lead.
If you’re not sure how to define your brand’s visual style, I highly recommend consulting a graphic design professional. They can help you translate your essence into something that’s more than just meaningful, but visually stunning.
8. Let Your Brand Evolve Naturally.
Personal branding is an ongoing process. As you and your business continue to grow, so should your personal brand. Take stock of your personal brand often, and make sure it aligns with your work in a way that rings true to you.
Take stock of your personal brand often, and make sure it aligns with your work in a way that rings true to you.
How to leverage personal branding to grow your audience
When you share your authentic story, your ideal buyers will start to find you. They’ll engage with you online, follow your social media accounts, and share your content. The stronger your brand reflects your personality and resonates with your target audience, the more they’ll trust you. And trust is essential when it comes to driving business.
Once you’ve defined your personal brand, set up a few key marketing channels. Don’t try to be active everywhere, but in a few places that make sense for you. Maybe hosting a podcast is the right move for you, maybe it isn’t. Regardless of what marketing channels you choose to be present on, position yourself as an expert in your field. Doing so will make it easier for people to find and refer business to you.
Build your personal brand through coaching
In this guide, I’ve given you 8 actionable strategies to discover your unique voice, create your personal brand, and unlock your full potential. Building a compelling personal brand takes focus, dedication, and determination—but, I promise you, it will be worth it. And if you need help along the way, I’m here.
As a women’s leadership expert, business coach, and writer, I’ve helped countless women entrepreneurs scale their service-based businesses past the 7-figure mark with powerful positioning, messaging, and sales funnels. Learn more about how you develop an undeniable personal brand here.