Brands are created in the mind. When we’re talking about branding for professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners, we’re talking about winning the hearts and minds of fans and followers by telling your own story.
You’re a professional with great work ethic, respectable experience, and commendable accomplishments or contributions. Yet you feel like there is still so much for you to give, offer, and contribute. But no one’s tapping you.
You wonder, “What is wrong with other people? Why don’t they get me, appreciate me, respect me?”
Maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your personal brand.
Branding for professionals is often overlooked because we were raised to think the school we graduated from is enough to do the work for us.
Or, for younger professionals, our portfolio and clientele will speak for us.
These, in part, may be true, but there is a big role that branding plays here, and in our potential business or career.
If you found your way here because you searched, “Branding for professionals,” “Personal branding,” or “Professional personal branding” (among others), welcome. You have come to the right place.
Table of Contents
1. The Basics of Branding For Professionals
Building your personal brand is a process that can be fun and cathartic for you.
It doesn’t happen overnight or in an instant, and requires discipline and the solid decision to become a better professional.
You need to nail down:
- Your mission statement
- Your vision
- Your philosophy
In order to pin these down among what are probably disorganized, chaotic thoughts inside your head, you can try any of the following exercises:
According to MIT Global Studies and Languages, freewriting was “a writing strategy developed by Peter Elbow in 1973…similar to brainstorming but is written in sentence and paragraph form without stopping.”
Julia Cameron — in her book The Artist’s Way — encourages freewriting on one page every morning, developing it as a habit. Many attest they have “found themselves” in this exercise, by letting the pen free and letting the subconscious take over the flow of words.
Creating a Vision Board.
Author and personal development guru Jack Canfield defines a vision board as “a visualization tool…used to build a collage of words and pictures that represent your goals and dreams.”
Simply put together visual representations of your goals in one place. Make sure this place is something you see every day, so you are always reminded about what you are working towards as well as your “why.”
2. Defining Your Audience
Part of the branding for professionals journey is having the humility to accept that focusing on something you are good at and consistently delivering excellent results with it is better than being a jack-of-all-trades (master of none).
“I am not for everyone and that is fine with me,” author Sylvester McNutt once said. In the process, he identified his niche, hyper-focused on them, and is now a best-selling author of print and e-books simply because he started by sticking with one segment.
So for what you are offering, who is your segment?
If you have more than one, who are your segments? Organize them into tiers, and start with the topmost tier. You will eventually attract the others by being so good with the first tier (take it from McNutt who started by posting personal quotes on IG. Talk about niche!).
Content marketing is an important part of your journey into personal brand-building. Read more about it here: “How Is Content Marketing Part Of My Business Branding Efforts?”
3. Check Your Reflection
When you are all alone and quiet, do you feel whole or not? Do you feel full or empty? Do you like your own company or you prefer the distraction of others or the outside world?
Your clarity within — from your thoughts about yourself, the words you tell yourself, the words you use to describe yourself — plays an important role in your personal brand. If you know who you are, no one can tell you otherwise.
Look in the mirror and ask yourself this: Why should people choose you? What makes you amazingly unique, reliable, and talented that there can only be you in your niche? Pat your back. See your flaws, acknowledge them, and turn them into opportunities to become a better version of you.
4. Articulate Who You Are
[Cue Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out!”]
When everything is finally clear within, then it’s time to be clear about it to everyone outside of you. Articulate who you are — your tone, your voice, your principles, your advocacies, and what you stand for.
From here, the aesthetics follow: the design of your logo, your website, your visuals, and other elements that make the brand book of your professional brand. It’s like a secondary adolescence of sorts: a point of rediscovery and joy.
Showcase your achievements and accomplishments. Manifest what you want to do, the businesses you want to work with, the clients who are aligned with your values. Share your process. Invest in your personal marketing.
First you attract a small tribe, then you’ll see it grow because you are you.
Did you know? LOJO Marketing can help you with your corporate or personal brand-building efforts. Have a look at our guide to brand development and management here.
5. Leave Footprints Everywhere
The first thing people do now when they or their business need something is to go to Google and search.
So make sure you have social proof of your brand. On B2B platforms like LinkedIn, make it a habit to consistently post your own thoughts.
In fact, not just on LinkedIn, but in your website’s blog section which you can then post on social media. If you are into video, make sure your reel is updated. If you decide to start vlogging, make sure you are consistent. Approach it like you would a professional channel.
Because this is probably the most important channel whose programming you could ever grow: your very own.
Speak up, stand up, show up even if virtually. And when people engage, respond to them warmly. Each one is a lead or a key to a potential breakthrough.
Find out how digital marketing plays a big part in your personal branding journey. Read “Why Is Digital Marketing Important For Branding?”
A Final Word About Branding For Professionals
Branding for professionals is not rocket science. In fact, it is instinctive. But sometimes, we don’t know that it’s already there, or we are not aware that we have begun taking the steps and then stopped without realizing our goals.
Now that you have these 5 simple steps to guide you, it is up to you to decide when you will go through these simple exercises (you can do all these in a week!). Prioritize them and block time off for them. Eliminate distractions and focus on you.
This is your brand. This is Brand YOU.