An increasingly important topic is all about personal brand. Let’s step back for a minute. Branding is extremely important in general. However, I want to zone in on personal branding, because it applies for freelancers specifically. It can also apply for those who are running a company in their name. Either way, let’s explore what personal branding is, and how you as a designer can go about building it for yourself.
You need a personal branding to have a business. No brand = no business. Brand identity means what people associate to that brand – how do people perceive the brand? People also associate what can that brand do for me? What value do I get out of it? It’s a way people perceive you and what you’re all about as a designer which can include your style, your personality, and your approach.
Advantages and disadvantages of a personal brand
You can always mould your personal brand as you like which is advantageous. You can change it as you like. However, the time to make that change can vary. Of course, if the brand is damaged, then that’s a separate story all together. I would also highlight two disadvantages: you need a lot of time for it and it’s hard to build than a corporate brand.
How to build a personal brand
I will describe some ways you can really build up your personal brand to create a following for yourself.
- Identify your target audience: You need to decide who is that you want to attract. They are your potential customers that will use your service. They are the ones who will support your growth by talking to their friends and colleagues. You should know that audience and what gets them before making any further steps.
- Customer referrals: You have to, have to, have to get those. They are public testimonials about your work and what you’re all about. The word of mouth effect you draw here helps you to grow your business. It also helps you become an influencer. More on the influencer topic at a later stage.
- CSR initiatives: Get out there and do some good for the community! People want to see that you’re considering others and want to do better. Why? Humans are generally inclined to do good for others. It also shows that you are not selfish and willing to give of yourself for the greater good.
- Storytelling: Provide a story that people can believe. A brand is all about telling a story. You must do exactly that. People want to feel some connection and what better way than to tell a story. You also can build a following and presence in this way.
- Free publicity: Link up with a few bloggers or journalists to get yourself out there. People need to hear about you, so building that outreach through that publicity helps. You can expand your reach to people and let them get to know you. It’s a perfect opportunity to tell a story that I mention previously.
- Free podcast or seminar: For me, I think this is really a great way to give and get. You can gain so much exposure by having people listen to what you want to teach yet you get that exposure. It is a win/win for everyone. Of course, there are some additional benefits that come out of it. However, those benefits you have to determine for yourself.
- Social media: Yes, get on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or what you deem necessary. These platforms help you create an audience that builds your following. It also lets you tell your brand story that creates your brand identity. Finally, it also allows you to monitor your brand’s growth and perception.
- Website: For me, this is a dead give away and something you should know. You should display your work that lends you credibility. It is also a platform that you can use to gain referrals, pingbacks, and subscribers. All of these are positive for your brand and “must haves”.
These steps provide you with an opportunity to build your personal brand. They provide you the opportunity to get the exposure that you need. You won’t get anywhere without people knowing who you are and what you’re all about. You need to figure out which of these tools or combination of tools can help you. This forms part of your personal branding strategy.
Adam E. Badenhorst is a corporate professional and entrepreneur with operations and marketing experience who also writes articles about various topics.