Written by: Kitty Lai, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
For years I’ve been hiding behind brands, being part of global store expansions and brand communications for retail brands. I’ve been that visual voice and made my mark in the world.
I’ve seen my designs in stores globally, at airports, even in Apple stores, and on my daily commute standing next to someone holding a piece of my design, oblivious to the creator behind it... and that is exactly how I wanted it to play out, a somebody yet a nobody behind a brand. That was my face, that was my outlet and that was my job!
Proud of growing brands and leading my design teams, I was always shy to mention to people where I worked at social and networking events. To me, it felt like bragging, but in fact, it was doing me a favor - it was building the start of my credibility, and it wasn’t until I started my own business this is when I felt invisible to the world. This is why it’s important for me now to help others who may feel the same way.
When you’re ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey or start a new business, the very thought is exciting, however when faced with building your Personal Brand, most people will question, “Where do I actually start?”
In truth, most people will decide the most natural place is to start on a social platform and just show up. Social media is an integral tool to grow your Personal Brand, but the pressure to be visible often leads to a poor and inconsistent presence. Don’t undermine your Personal Brand with an inferior visual social media presence. Without a good strategy, you’d be wasting your energy and your time.
The first thing is to understand “what a personal brand” is. It sounds obvious enough but believe me, I’ve had conversations with people who have gotten confused with business branding or brand identity and others who openly admit they had no idea (note: there’s no shame of not knowing what Personal branding is).
Personal Branding is having a distinguished and consistent look that sets you apart from your competition. It’s how you choose to represent yourself in the way that you look, the way that you stand; it’s what you say and how you say it to express the best version of you with confidence.
Here’s how you can begin building visibility for your Personal Brand:
Start with your story
Everyone loves a good story; it can be a powerful component of your Personal Brand. Storytelling is very powerful in traditional marketing as it creates a human connection. It tells someone who you are, what you stand for, and how you got to where you are today.
Understanding who you are and sharing your brand story is a big step to getting visible, so put thought into which part of your story your ideal audience needs to know about and how it may resonate with them. Explain your core values and the journey from start-up to present day.
What do you want to be known for?
This is a fundamental part of building your brand. Being known as a key person of authority or influence in your industry and expert field is a good way for your personal brand to stand out and grow, but don’t super niche down that you can’t expand into other areas in the future. Brand your expertise with your own unique style and how you want to be perceived by your audience. You should align your core values and mission with your branding. Ask yourself, what do you stand for?
There are numerous ways you can broadcast your expertise by being visible to your audiences, such as starting a blog, writing a book, speaking, networking, social media, making videos, teaching, and getting featured in articles or industry sites... the list goes on.
Know your audience
Decide how you want to use your Personal Brand. Whether it’s to progress your career, be an influencer, or sell a service; you need to identify who your audience is so that you can connect and resonate with them. If you have a business, then identifying with a niche as well as creating an avatar, may help you focus on your ideal audience.
Be visible on the right channels. There's no point in sharing your knowledge in places where your ideal audience or community aren't. You need to consider where they are spending their time, whether it's Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or elsewhere.
Prepare an elevator pitch
Everybody needs one, may you be an entrepreneur or someone looking for a job! Every industry is filled with experts and one of the best ways to stand out is to prepare a great elevator pitch. The goal is not to sell, but to get another chance to give a more detailed presentation about you or your organization.
Keep your pitch simple so stay away from jargons and complex words, because they don't make you more interesting.
Keep it brief and craft two versions - If you don't have much time, 30 seconds is enough to introduce yourself - say who you are, what you do, and why what you do is important. If you have 60 seconds, add in evidence to support that you are good at what you do and how you're different. Don't make it any longer than 60 seconds to keep the listener's interest and attention.
Expand your network
First impressions do count, so developing new connections at networking meetings and events is a great way to expand your reach and promote your Personal Brand and services.
Engaging and networking with other professionals, whether it's online or in-person, allows people to get to know you and determine that they like and trust you. It’s more likely that new opportunities, collaborations, and referrals will emerge. Be present in new circles that can help you with your new role.
One of the key components to establishing your reputation as an authority is consistency. This will show your community that you are reliable, professional and a committed expert in your field... And most importantly, your brand message will continually be seen and heard.
Consistency is by far one of the most crucial rules for any type of branding. By ensuring that every part of your brand, your design, style, and color scheme, is consistent across every touchpoint, your audience will recognize your brand easily.
It’s a less daunting place once you laid down your foundations to strengthen your brand and before you know it, you’ll finally be visible to the world. You don't build a Personal Brand from scratch. Personal Brand is something that each of us already has, it's innate for individuals. All you have to do is to develop and enhance it by knowing your story, knowing your audience, and having your elevator pitch. Once you've figured these things out, get yourself out there by joining networking groups or conferences. And of course, don't forget the secret to a successful personal brand — show up every day!
Kitty Lai, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kitty Lai is a Branding Strategist and Visual Communicator, Founder of ME Brand - a Personal Branding service. She is one of the leading authorities in the UK, with over twenty years' experience working as a brand designer and Head of the graphic design teams for iconic British retail brands such as Ted Baker and Cath Kidston, bringing businesses alive through visual and brand communication.
Kitty totally exudes the drive, passion and energy that's needed to be a successful entrepreneur. She wholly embodies the value of self-development and keenly practices a growth mindset in the running of her own business.
Kitty shared her extensive expertise as a keynote speaker at a number of events, and is inspired to help entrepreneurs and success-driven individuals to develop their Personal Brand so they make an impact and confidently attract their ideal clients.