If you run an online business, you are probably aware that building a strong personal brand is one of the most powerful tools in your entrepreneurial arsenal.
While most entrepreneurs understand the power behind effective branding, very few understand how to effectively execute and build a reputable personal brand.
If that’s you, don’t worry.
With a few simple tweaks and hacks, you can ramp up the power behind your brand and build a bigger fanbase than you ever thought possible in a few short weeks.
1. Use professional profile photos
If you want to be taken seriously in the online world, you need to present yourself with an air of professionalism.
I know it may be tempting to use that cute avatar as your profile picture, but it comes off as adolescent and unprofessional.
Invest the time and money into a professional picture, and it will be worth its weight in gold for your personal brand.
Make sure you smile. Why? Because a smile can build trustworthiness.
Here’s how MedicalDaily.com summed up the research on this subject:
Psychologists specializing in facial expressions are still unsure as to whether a human smile is a tool used for communication or an involuntary expression that conveys our emotional state. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and the Toulouse School of Economics have confirmed that putting on an honest smile that is genuine can influence people to cooperate with you by perceiving you as trustworthy.
The professional photo I use on this blog is simple and effective. Shirt. Suit. Tie. And…smile!
In the photo above, I’m wearing a suit. That helps, of course, but it’s not absolutely necessary. To look professional in a photo, you don’t need to be wearing a business suit.
By “professional photos,” I mean the quality and subject of the photo.
Download this cheat sheet of 11 personal brand building hacks that will earn you more customers within two weeks.
I was browsing LinkedIn recently and came across a guy I know to be really professional. He does top-notch work and is the president of his own company.
But his profile photo doesn’t shout professional! In fact, it’s kind of hard to figure out what’s going on in his picture. The quality and subject of the photo don’t speak to his professionalism.
Isn’t there a place for fun photos? Sure, but make sure you’re using them in the right place and at the right time.
I’ve discovered that fun or casual photos can grab people’s attention—like this one on my blog NeilPatel.com.
Here are a few key things to remember:
When it comes to your profile photo (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), make sure it’s a headshot. No one else needs to be in the picture—no kids, pets, or significant others.
Don’t wear sunglasses.
Wear something that’s appropriate to your job and position.
If possible, use the photo services of a professional.
Use a high-quality photo. Pixelated headshots aren’t effective.
Look, you don’t need to be a good-looking person to have a really high-quality headshot that brings in the leads. All you need is a sharp, crisp, professional photo of your face.
2. Present content authentically
We live in an era of frauds and fakes. If you are not intentional about your presentation, even high quality information may be disregarded or come off as disingenuous.
Whenever you write an article or record a video, speak or write authentically, from the heart. Don’t worry about what people will think.
Whether you swear like a sailor or are as clean-cut as they come, whether you are reserved and quiet or as intense as a Navy SEAL instructor, use your own personality and style whenever you share your message.
People will appreciate the authenticity. Your polarizing nature will create more loyal customers and fans than you can imagine.
3. Create and share killer content on a regular basis
The world is so full of new and exciting content that it’s easy to get left behind (even with an established brand) unless you are regularly creating and marketing high quality content.
A guy like Brian Dean has a strong personal brand:
He needs to be publishing really great content on a regular basis in order to generate leads for his business.
As expected, his content is always top-notch:
Whether you are creating YouTube videos, podcasts, or blog posts, you need to keep your head in the game and crank out killer content on a regular basis.
What’s “killer” content? Here are a few pointers:
Well researched—back up your claims with data.
Unique—don’t repeat what everyone else is saying.
Longform—lengthy content gets more social shares, more backlinks, and higher search engine results.
Genuinely useful—solve problems; relieve pain; provide answers.
4. Stay consistent on social media
The average person in the Western world spends around 3 hours on social media each day.
If you don’t build and maintain a high profile social presence, your brand will suffer a slow but certain demise.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s social media presence is on point. He’s always publishing content, and it’s always good.
Social media is so prevalent in our modern culture that it’s become an absolute necessity for any aspiring entrepreneur to master the art of social media branding.
How do you remain consistent on social media? Here is a schedule you can follow:
Twitter: 5 times a day
LinkedIn: 1 time a day
Google+: 1 time a day
Facebook: 2 times a day
Branding isn’t complicated. It’s simply a matter of deciding what your jam is, knowing it, and being all about it, everywhere you are.
5. Tell a compelling story
People love stories—it’s part of our DNA.
We have a neurological response to storytelling:
The effect of a story is so powerful that it’s impossible to ignore.
James Clear, a popular blogger, explains his take on stories:
In the end, my work ends up being one-part storytelling, one-part academic research, one-part personal experiment. It’s a colorful blend of inspirational stories, academic science, hard-earned wisdom.
His stories are now part of his personal brand. He uses storytelling to introduce the lessons he teaches on his blog.
A story? About a tough job? And the Tour de France? Yes, please.
And while the days of listening intently to tribal leaders tell tales of struggle and victory while huddled around a campfire on the savanna are over, we still connect with stories in the same way we did thousands of years ago.
If you want to effectively build your personal brand, you have to center everything around a story.
And not just any story, your story.
One of the quickest ways to grow your brand and your business is figuring out how you can craft and share your story in a way that’s as relatable and authentic as possible.
6. Be intentional in positioning yourself
How do you want to be known in your niche?
Are you the friendly expert? The sarcastic a-hole? The mentor full of tough love?
Think about people with strong and recognizable personal brands such as Tucker Max (the sarcastic a-hole), Tim Ferriss (the friendly expert), or Garrett White (the tough love mentor).
All of them decided how they wanted to position themselves within their niches and then built their brands around that.
If you want to succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavors, you’ll do the same.
You have to own it. Stick with it. You’re building an identity.
Maybe Tucker Max likes his identity. Maybe he doesn’t. But he made the bed, and now he has to lie in it.
Selena Soo positions herself as a publicity and business strategist for experts, authors, and coaches:
Every email, webinar, ad, and update is focused on that one point.
Brendon Burchard is a passionate coach who has positioned himself using the “Live. Love. Matter.” slogan. His positioning has allowed him to create a powerful presence that people don’t forget.
7. Host hangouts and reply to comments
One of the quickest and most efficient ways to grow your personal brand is to connect with your audience.
Whether you are responding to comments on your blog, hosting weekly AMA Hangouts, or annual live meetups, getting involved with your audience and building rapport will put you on the fast track to a massive and recognizable personal brand.
8. Create a recognizable logo
The human brain processes logos in around 13 milliseconds, faster than the blink of an eye. I bet you recognize these logos:
A recognizable and high quality logo is essential to your visual marketing and personal brand.
Think about brands like Pepsi, Amazon, Google, and PayPal.
All of them have established strong logos people instantly recognize. Whether you love them or hate them, you cannot look at the Pepsi logo or see the colorful letters of Google without immediately acknowledging the brand:
Use the power of the human brain to your advantage, and craft a high quality logo that will increase your recognition.
A personal brand logo creates a visual hook for people to pair with your brand. If you are trying to brand yourself using only a title, your name, or a slogan, it won’t be as effective.
The human brain uses a variety of sensory inputs to create a lasting memory—sound, motion, color, smell, and imagery.
By creating a colorful and unique logo, you’ll be able to develop visual imagery that sticks in people’s minds.
Think about Jimmy Fallon for a moment. He has a strong personal brand and uses his circular logo and blue moon imagery to reinforce this in people’s minds:
Rachael Ray, the celebrity cook, has a fun, light, and memorable logo featuring her name:
9. Create a brand tag line
Another great way to build your brand recognition is to create a powerful and easy to remember tagline or mission statement.
“The few, the proud, the ____.”
“Let’s go places.”
Even without me telling you the brand names, you’ve probably recognized the brands of Coca-Cola, Subway, the U.S. Marines, and Toyota.
Brands try to harness a feeling, an emotion. That’s why a brand that makes automobiles can have a tagline with a visceral and deep-seated impact.
That’s the power of a well-written tagline.
Even in a so-called “boring” industry, Microsoft tries to be inspirational.
A personal brand has even greater potential for inspiration and motivation.
10. Start a podcast
If most of your work is centered around the written word, starting a podcast is a fantastic way to build a stronger online personality and establish a more powerful brand.
Podcasts are a rawer and unfiltered medium for sharing information, and if you can grow them and market them well enough, they can also be a fantastic strategy for monetizing your brand.
11. Start speaking at events
One of the best ways to establish authority of your personal brand is to speak at events or conferences:
Although speaking at TEDx or The World Domination Summit may feel out of your reach right now, start with smaller gigs, and build from there.
Getting up in front of a live audience, while being vulnerable and not having the ability to edit mistakes or correct your speeches, is a powerful way to build more authenticity into your brand.
Speaking takes practice. Many people are afraid of public speaking, but I think everyone should try it at least once.
Who knows? You may find that it’s something you love and are good at!
You’re now equipped with 11 powerful tips. These hacks work.
If you are willing to take action, you can grow your personal brand at an obscene rate, earning more customers and building a loyal following quicker than you ever thought possible.
It will take hard work and sacrifice on your part, but I promise that if you do what you need to do and use these 11 tips, your brand and your business will never be the same.
A personal brand is a powerful thing. How have you used your personal brand to gain more clients and customers?