Why Branding Yourself Is Important (And How To Do It Right)
This simple framework for branding yourself has been carefully crafted and refined after working on dozens of personal branding exercises for professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, and small business owners.
You can build a best-in-class personal brand from scratch, without spending a fortune, if you understand the basics.
I created a self-guided tool specifically for professionals, executives, and entrepreneurs who are rich in ideas, inspiration, and enthusiasm, but limited in resources. By being efficient you'll end up branding yourself in a way that resonates with your intended audience and distinguishes you from your peers.
The following framework encompasses all the elements you need to create your personal brand essence. They will ensure you articulate the essence of your personal brand clearly, concisely, and consistently.
If you are branding a small business, this framework is also instrumental in aligning and focusing your team (and external partners and constituents) around a common vision.
There are four parts of the framework: Vision, Value, Voice, Visuals (i.e. "the 4Vs").
It’s important to go through the exercise of articulating the strategic vision for yourself or your company before get into other parts of the branding process. Your vision must inform your entire strategy.
A strong vision communicates why you exist and what you stand for, and how that drives the specific goals you want to achieve in the future.
- Tagline — short but powerful sentence that conveys your brand's essence.
- Purpose — why you exist, what you’ll accomplish, and how you’ll achieve it.
- Values — the core principles that will guide all of your activities.
Your value is what you have to offer that is unique, important, and relevant in the eyes of the consumer. It should specifically address the most pressing consumer needs, problems, or desires and it gets at the heart of why you or your business should be chosen over others.
- USP — your unique selling proposition or differentiated value add.
- Positioning — how you stand apart from competitors in your space.
- Promise — who you are (and aren't); your role in the consumer’s life.
You should be purposeful in your manner of communication by focusing on what you say, how you say it, and the feeling it conveys. It's important to carefully craft a distinct prose that engages, inspires, motivates, influences, and establishes trust.
- Persona — the demographic and psychographic profile of your target.
- Personality — the personification of your brand and relationship with your target audience.
- Tone — the words and phrases that make up the style of communication.
The visible elements of your brand impart a symbolic meaning that goes beyond what words alone can express. Your visual identity sets the foundation necessary for your brand to be distinguishable, recognizable, and relatable.
- Style — guidelines on the overall aesthetic (look and feel) of the brand.
- Identity — the brand's core style elements (fonts, logos, colors, imagery).
- Collateral — the marketing and other material (website, etc.) that your audience interacts with.
In addition to the 4Vs framework, there's a very specific process you should walk through in order to ensure you are approaching your brand's development in the most ideal way.
There are important questions, inputs, and exercises that increase the likelihood of you establishing a personal brand or small business brand that strongly resonates with the intended audience.
- Educate — a set of preparatory steps and questions you should ask before you start your branding work.
- Audit — the research, analyses, and other inputs you should collect to help inform your brand.
- Ideate — brainstorming sessions to generate ideas that will eventually establish the building blocks of your brand.
- Create — the process of developing the 4Vs (as specified above)
- Test — validating and verifying your 4Vs before finalizing them (especially if you are a business).
- Design — once your 4Vs are final then moving on to the design of your visual brand identity.
If you are ready to start branding yourself the weekend challenge outlines how to walk through this entire process in only two days.