There are more than 41.8 million adults in the US that identify as consultants, freelancers, or solopreneurs. And that number is only expected to grow in the coming years.
So if you are one of these 41.8 million solopreneurs, how can you stand out and get noticed? How can you possibly hope to get hired or grow your business when there are so many other equally capable entrepreneurs fighting for the same piece of the pie?
The answer to this question lies in your personal brand – a sustainable competitive advantage that cannot be easily copied.
In this post, I’m going to define what a personal brand is, what it isn’t, and why it’s important for the success of your business.
What is a Personal Brand?
Put simply, your personal brand is the way that you make your target audience feel. As a consultant or solopreneur, your personal brand will be shaped by the way you are perceived by your potential, current, and past clients.
Take a second to consider this. Do you make them feel inspired? Empowered? How about intimidated? Uncomfortable?
Personal Brands are Valuable Investments
Brands may be intangible, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t valuable. In 2019, Apple’s brand was valued at over $309 billion dollars. Large companies make significant investments in building, clarifying, and communicating their brands through brand statements, colors, fonts, campaigns, and slogans. But the underlying factor is how these tangible elements make people feel about the brand itself.
What a Personal Brand Is Not
First, your personal brand is not what you WANT your target audience to feel.
Your personal brand can only be accurately defined by the people you are seeking to serve. It is often said that your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not around. To a large extent this is true, but people don’t need to talk about your brand in order to experience it.
You have the ability to shape your personal brand by changing the way you interact, speak, write, and appear. However, the end result of your efforts (how you make your target customer feel) is what will ultimately define your brand.
Second, your personal brand is not your personal BRANDING (logo, fonts, colors, etc.)
Many people believe that a designer can create their personal brand by choosing a beautiful color palette and cranking out a logo. This is not the case.
Your intentional efforts to influence your perception fall into the category of “personal branding”. There is a clear distinction, and it is extremely dangerous to confuse the two. If you try to hire a graphic designer, website designer, or marketing consultant before you are clear on how you want to make your target customer feel, you will inevitably miss the mark.
While your personal brand is shaped by how people see you, your personal branding is shaped by how you want to be seen.
Personal Branding Photography
Let’s take a look at three successful women who are marketing to a very similar target demographic. Take a look at how they want their audience to feel, and notice how their personal brand is made visual by their brand photography.
Rachel Hollis, “You are worthy and capable of achieving anything you set your heart to.”
Jen Sincero, “You are a Badass.”
Jordan Dooley, “I’m obsessed with helping women use their creativity and talents to create both freedom and flexibility in their life.”
Each of these writers are focused on serving female entrepreneurs, but they are able to differentiate themselves by using their personal brands to provide unique value to their audiences.
If you can use your personal brand effectively, you WILL stand out to your target audience in a crowded marketplace, even when you’re fighting for the same piece of the pie.
Research shows that entrepreneurs who make consumer-centric decisions are ultimately more successful and profitable in the long-run.
As an entrepreneur, your personal brand is an important component of your marketing strategy, but you have to put in the hard work of looking yourself in the mirror, asking hard questions, getting uncomfortable, and stretching yourself to get clear on your why.
Once you do, the rewards are seemingly endless.
Helping Women Build their Brand with Confidence
As a brand photographer, I ensure that each of my clients is clear on their personal brand before we talk about their personal BRANDING (photography).
I’m passionate about helping women to build their personal brands with confidence and teaching them to leverage their brands to grow their businesses. If you are ready to take the next step in building your personal brand, I would love to hear your story.