How to The first step in developing your personal brand identity is to clearly define who you are. Once you understand who you are as an individual, then the brand will flow from there. Of course, you have your own personal journey and you are dynamic and changing, but there are fundamental truths about who you are, what matters to you and of course… what you love. It is crucial that you be as authentic as possible. You brand your persona because YOU are the common thread that can create a consistent and cohesive brand identity–one that is as unique and compelling as you are.
Defining who you are allows you to lead naturally from your experiences and strengths. I am an artist. I am an outgoing introvert. I am passionate and heart-centered. I love dogs, country music and reading. I am also open-hearted, compassionate, playful and have a childlike curiosity. These ‘definitions’ are woven throughout my personal brand identity, the particular language I use in marketing and creating content for my social media posts, and the personal examples I share from the stage.
As a big movie fan, I never miss awards season–The Oscars, Golden Globes, etc. Without fail, when George Clooney takes the stage the reception is one of smiles, generous applause and a real sense of love from his colleagues. His interactions are warm, authentic, and full of laughter. He stands out as classy, friendly, approachable, self-deprecating and a team player, and that’s exactly what makes him compelling, too. Others are attracted to him for those very reasons–not to mention his good looks and style (I would have been remiss not to mention that!). From Clooney’s humble Kentucky upbringing where he worked as a shoe salesman and a tobacco farmhand before his rise to fame, it is his family’s values and strong work ethic that have served him so well. Clooney is an actor, icon, activist, and humanitarian. Although a man in the spotlight, George Clooney seems to have the ability to protect most of his personal life from the public. This adds to his mystique– another asset of his personal brand. It’s also in alignment with his sense of humility. Clooney stands for supporting others, whether it’s his philanthropic efforts in Darfur or his passion for spotlighting other artists, ushering them forward in their careers. This work enables fans and peers to connect with him in a meaningful way. He provides no reason for people not to like him. There are few superstars or icons who can match this aspect of Clooney’s persona.
Defining who you are can be a challenge because you can’t see the label from inside the bottle. Also, many of us spend more of our time fixing what’s wrong with us rather than developing what’s right. Chances are you may not know the depth of your strengths. That’s why all of my personal clients begin their process with exercises and assessments.
Begin to think broadly about your personality and how others experience you. Do others call you ‘the plan maker’? That might mean you have great leadership and organizational skills. Do people like being around you because you make them laugh? That might mean you inspire others to see the bright side of life.
Your client testimonials are a treasure trove for defining your brand identity. After all, the words of praise are from your ideal clients- those that have chosen to hire you already. What speaks to them about your brand experience will no doubt speak to others, too. Take note of their key language or phrasing and repurpose that into your brand.
If you’re short on customer testimonials, it’s time to ask for them. You can request them from existing clients by letting them know you would like to include theirs on your website. Be sure to ask them specifically how they’d like to be identified and let them know you’ll include a link to their website. If you’re asked how long their quote should be, give them the leeway to write as little or much as they’d like. Then you can pull out the key phrases you know will speak to your potential clients.
When a customer expresses happiness with my services, I immediately ask more pointed questions and then ask permission to quote them. Here are some examples:
Joan: “JuliAnn, I’m so happy I worked with you.”
JuliAnn: “What specifically are you happy about?”
Joan: “I look and feel great. I have a renewed sense of myself and my confidence has increased.”
JuliAnn: “I’m thrilled you are feeling that way. Joan, may I use your words as a testimonial?”
Susan: “JuliAnn, I am being perceived on a higher level now.”
JuliAnn: “How is that benefitting your work?”
Susan: “Now, I’m attracting the clients who value and can afford my services.”
JuliAnn: “I love hearing that! May I quote you?”
Susan: “Please do.”
Two independent assessments I suggest my clients take are: The Fascination Advantage Assessment by Sally Hogshead, author of #1 bestseller How the World Sees You. This assessment identifies your archetype and how others perceive you at your best.
The second evaluation that will help you define yourself at your best is Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment. The Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment is a revised version of the 1998 assessment developed by the father of strengths psychology, Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. and his associate Tom Rath. I love their philosophy of focusing on what people excel at rather than what needs fixing.
A basic marketing principal is to identify your very narrow target market, connect with them, and the rest will follow. Once I began to strategically weave my own brand identity into my brand presence and marketing strategies, my target market started to appear and my visibility and bottom line accelerated substantially.
The value of ‘defining who you are’ is apparent in my client Rebecca’s brand. She is a marketing consultant who develops strategies which her team then implements for her clients. However, if you had seen Rebecca’s website, you would have thought she was executing everything herself which muddled the representation of who she is and what she stands for. Based on our Identity work, Rebecca clarified her role in her company as the leader and strategist. Taking that to her website, she presented herself as the leader of a strong support team involved in the implementation of those marketing approaches. She changed nothing within her company, but rather simply revealed her true role as the strategist. Once we clarified her strengths and role throughout her brand persona, she quickly began attracting the clients she had always dreamed of.