Should you build a personal brand? And if so, how do you do it?

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Today we’re talking about personal brands. Some people will say you need a personal brand but a better way of putting this is probably to say that you ‘need to control’ your personal brand and you might even want to grow it. The relationship between your personal brand and your business is complicated and intricate and, well, confusing. But the more you understand it the better you’ll be able to utilise it and help grow your business. So that’s what this episode is all about.

Our sister podcast is called 'Now, That's What I Call Green'.

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Kia ora and welcome to Now That's What I Call Business. I'm your host, Brianne West, and you may know me as the founder and former CEO of Ethique or That Soap Company, as some of you may know it, or hopefully my newest startup, Incredibles. I absolutely believe that business done right, done ethically, is the way to change the world. So if you are looking to build your world-changing biz or you just want to find out how Incredibles is going, then you have come to the right place. Kia ora and welcome back to Now, That's What I Call Business, for all things building ethical startups.

But today, we're talking about you or your personal brand. And actually, we will be soon, but I'm having a little bit of an ask the audience moment, so I need your feedback. Right. Well, first up, I'm in the beginning stages of writing a book. Yeah. Why?

Well, it's kind of always been one of those things on the bucket list. It's an even longer way to go on and on and on without people getting bored and wandering off like a captive audience. But also, and I hope this is true, but I think that I have some useful experience, useful advice, different perspectives that might make a book interesting. And a publisher has asked me to sort my life out and write it. So I'm working on it this year. So my question to you is what would you want it to cover? Obviously people come to me for sustainability, for insight into business. Some people, I literally have this as a question for my newsletter sign up, is why do you follow me? And the one that's hit the most is, I just think you're interesting, which is lovely, but I don't know how to put that into a book. So please let me know what it is you'd want a book to cover. You can let me know in the comments here or on social media. I'm not hard to find. Next up is a question about Incredibles. So we get into this stage and we're thinking about flavours.

Well we have the flavours, but we're thinking about flavour names, right? Now, there's two options. You can have whimsical names, or we can have obvious names. So, one flavour, you didn't hear it from me, but one flavour is an orange and pineapple blend. It's fucking delicious.

Do we call it orange and pineapple, in which case people have preconceived notions about what it should taste like, which it does, but you know, sometimes some people have different expectations. Or do we call it something like a citrus crush or some ridiculous name? And that way people have no preconceived notions but of course don't know what it is. I've seen both.

I think the industry seems to lead towards more obvious ones, but I'd really love your feedback on what you'd actually like and what makes sense. Thank you. Right, okay, let's crack into it. You need a personal brand. I mean, you already have one, right? That's just perhaps a better way of saying this is that you need to control your personal brand and well, you might want to grow it for a multitude of reasons.

Even if you don't have your own business, having a personal brand is very helpful. I quite literally get called the soap lady by a couple of the taxi drivers here in Ōtautahi. Cute, I guess, but not really how I want to see myself and this is what I mean about controlling your personal brand. So today we're going to talk about the role of founders as the face of your business, and your personal brand is separate to that, but also it's not separate at all.

Clear as mud? Yeah, well, we'll get there. Right, for those of you who don't know what is a personal brand, it's pretty obvious, but remember, your brand is not what you say it is, it's what others say it is, and this is true of your personal brand as much as it's true of Coke.

It's a little unfair, because you know yourself better than anyone else, right? But that's not necessarily how you're publicly portrayed. We all know those people who go to a party and they are absolutely fascinating. They exude confidence and charisma. They look like the expert. You're just weirdly naturally drawn to them and you trust their judgment if they recommend something or tell you to do something.

You want to listen to them. You want to get to know them more. That, in a nutshell, is what personal branding is about. That is why people spend hours on end watching people like Alex Earl put makeup on and talk about, I'm going to say it, her inane life. I personally don't watch Alex Earl. I am baffled as to why so many people do. But it's because they like her, they care about her, and they want to know more about her. That is a personal brand. So personal branding is crafting your own unique persona. It's shaping and projecting your professional identity into the world. It's how you convey your values, your expertise, the unique qualities that set you apart in the business world.

The key, of course, to a good personal brand is it being personal, you being yourself, even if you think you're boring or weird or quirky, whatever, I promise you there is a group of people out there looking for someone just like you. So when I say I want you to craft your personal brand, I do, but I don't mean making a fake online version of yourself. You are showing what you want to show, the good and the bad, but learning alongside your audience and educating and inspiring them as you, not who you think you ought to be. Important distinction, because being authentic is what makes us doable long term. Now this sounds like a lot of work, so why should you bother? Well, it is, but it is absolutely worth it because it's, to use a Wonka reference, great movie, you should go and see it, it's the golden ticket, right? It humanises your business, it makes you relatable, it helps you build trust and credibility. There are tons of brands that have been built off the back of a strong personal brand only. Tons of brands that get that wrong too, but we won't get into that today. If you do this well, this is something that no other brand can replicate.

In a crowded marketplace, which is almost all marketplaces, your personal brand will attract your target audience and will create lasting impressions far beyond that of a more corporate flavoured brand. It also opens doors, which is kind of a depressing reality of your life, but people want to know if you are worth their while or that you're useful to them. Yeah, I know. This is why I hate me working. If you walk into a room full of possible clients or investors and they don't know you yet, but they've heard of you through your personal brand, it's like a warm introduction. They've already got an idea of what you're like. They've seen your posts on social media, they've read articles, they might have heard you speak on a podcast, but they trust you a little bit before they even know you. Of course, assuming you've done a good job of it. But the power of personal branding is not only about marketing and building your brand, it's also about authenticity. So people connect much more with a real person than with an anonymous entity or a faceless corporation. You started your business for a reason, right? You wanna build a brand based on your true personality. And that purpose helps customers believe in you and your business. Having a face to your purpose makes all the difference. It's a big thing for differentiation, right? So there are countless businesses out there,

even if you don't think you have any competitors, I promise you do, but there's only one you. It is your easiest unique selling proposition. It is your biggest competitive advantage, so make the most of it. A good example of this is I didn't want to do a podcast. I did.

I wanted to do a podcast, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what I would do differently to the five million other podcasts out there. That's not an exaggeration. There are five million podcasts. It wasn't until someone said to me, but of course it's going to be different to start with. It's you and you're different that I thought, yeah, that's a good point. So here we are.

You are your biggest USP. This is a marketing piece, right? But it's also goes far beyond that because crafting compelling narratives is essential to brand loyalty, to brand growth, to business growth, to marketing, to messaging. Sharing your personal story alongside the professional really simplifies this task. It just adds another layer of authenticity that people will latch onto and believe.

And that's why it adds to trust and credibility because you will also have unique qualifications or skills or experience. And this is a way to get it out there in a way that isn't super like forced. Hopefully that makes sense. The bottom line, and look, it establishes you as a leader, or if you can forgive me this turn of phrase, a thought leader. Yeah, I know, a lot of us hate that, but you have a vision, it's a figure for your customers, your team to get behind, it's worth investing in. Girls That Invest is an absolute stellar example of a brand nailing this, with founder Simran, who has shot to stardom over the last couple of years due to the way she's built an investing platform for women and girls that's simply not been there before and she's done it in a really authentic down-to-earth way. She shared her story as she goes along and when I interviewed her a couple of months ago I asked her for a tip for founders who are considering the same approach. You've got to be very vulnerable and authentic if you can say this is my journey and these are all the things I did right and all the things I did wrong. People are more likely to trust you and go, okay, she's actually or he's actually a human too. And this is more for companies or brands that have a very strong founder story or founder wants to be front-facing. But I find that that has made such a difference when you can put a face and a person. Like the fact that our brand has quirks and little side offsets of girls that invest but they also really love skincare and I'll talk about that sometimes and tie that in with investing. I'm a huge fan of Sim. Highly recommend you go and follow her for a perfect example of community building and personal brand. Right, you know what it is. You know why we want one. But let's be clear, there are some disadvantages and things you want to be aware of. It is a substantial commitment and scaling can be tricky. As your company grows, even with new team members, if you are the primary content creator, they can assist, but they can't entirely take it off your plate. And this is what we are finding at the moment with Business for Better and to a degree Incredibles, which hasn't even launched yet. I am already slightly, you smash a lot, overwhelmed. It's one of the reasons that I've made these podcast episodes fortnightly as opposed to weekly. I just can't keep up. Boundaries are really crucial. So put something in place to protect yourself. Quality not quantity.

One video a week that's great and shows insight and vulnerability and authenticity is infinitely better than five, which I just, you know, I've had to do this. I had to get on camera. Here's my face. Vulnerability, like Sim said, is a really powerful way to build connection and authenticity with your audience. But there are times when life gets hard, it does for all of us, right? And you might not feel like sharing that or getting in front of the camera. Again, boundaries.

Privacy will become an issue. So strangers will potentially recognise your face. They know a lot about you when you've not even met them. And look, this happens to me quite often. I've met some amazing people and they will often say things, oh, I love your TikTok videos. And immediately I get like a stab of embarrassment thinking, God, really? Sometimes some of those things are so cringe-worthy. Because you do, you look back at what you created historically and you think, oh, my God, what was I thinking? Even though you loved it at the time, right? So it is unnerving being recognized in public, but it's also really lovely. It takes you time to get used to it. And you have to bear in mind that you are representing, if you like, your personal brand when you're out and about. Something to consider. Also if you ever want to exit your business, how much of the value of your business are you?

Typical one. Because if you've built your business as the face and yet you want to sell it and don't want to go with it, that becomes a tricky piece of the negotiation. It puts you in a position of power for sure, but a weak one if you don't want to go with the business.

So have a good think about this long term. A lot of founders work around this by in the early days they are right there front and center building that brand and as they get a little bit bigger they get more team members, they start to taper off a little bit more and you start to see less of them. That's the way to handle it over time. You need to infuse your personality, your brand, your values into the brand. That's how to get through that. We do have a module about that exact thing on Business with Beta because it's quite a tricky one. Okay, you've decided you want a personal brand. Well, it isn't just about having a fancy LinkedIn profile with one of those ridiculous headlines or a well-designed website, though, yes, they absolutely help. It's knowing who you are, what you want to achieve, what you want to help other people achieve, and building a strategy that aligns those three things and then doing it. And unless you have a lot of money for publicist and PR people, it will take time. Yes, I know, it starts with an S word, strategy. I love strategy. I don't know why people think it's boring.

It's so good to be able to look into what it is you want to achieve and break down all the steps to get there and then tackle them step by step. Honestly, if you're not thinking about your goals strategically, you're just not going to have the success of those that do. That's another podcast. So first, let's figure out what you are dealing with. Get to know yourself. How many people actually don't know themselves?

It's a stupid thing to say, but you might be surprised. So reflect on your personal and professional strengths, your values, your passions, what do you get excited about, and your goals. What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to do with the next year, the next five years? Just like your business, what are your unique selling points and what sets you apart from others in your field? Yeah, you need a USP too.

Consider your target audience. What do they value in a founder or industry expert? Do they want someone who's down to earth? Do they want someone who is a little bit business bro about it and talking about 10xing this? And let's take a step back. If you need to, you need to figure out who your audience is. And if this is all sounding familiar, yeah, it's exactly the same as what you did to create your brand brand.

Personal brand, brand brand, not a lot of difference. But if you're anything like me, this is actually really quite tricky. People are more complex than brands, right? You have a lot of things you like and don't like and they'll change. This is kind of why I hate the concept of niching down on social media. I get it that if you are laser focused on one subject, you'll probably grow in terms of followers a little bit faster, but that's also not the reality of a personal brand, right?

If you go and have a look at my Instagram or my TikTok, I talk about everything from sustainability to how I can't get out of bed because I'm tired to a rant about Buddy Kim Kardashian. It's varied, but that's my brain. How on earth do you nature that down? A true personal brand is with people like you for you, not for the subject you represent. I have a passion for a lot of things, science, environment, business, animals, scuba diving, adventure, and oddly anything that accelerates really fast.

For an environmentalist, that's an unusual one. But how do you initial that down? You don't. At the very core of everything, there is a thing that is important to you. It drove you to start your business. It possibly links all your likes together, though not necessarily. You need to find what that is. It took me a while.

It is actually hard to articulate this because it's probably something you've lived with most of your life. You may not have actually recognized it for what it is, but it's your purpose, right? And there are lots of people out there who say they don't have one. That's fine. We don't have to have some grandiose purpose, but you need to have something that links all of the stuff you're doing together. I ended up along the lines of inspiring and educating people to love and protect our planet and everything on it. I don't like the wording, but I never actually sat down and built a personal brand strategy like I'm telling you to do. This is a do as I say thing, not as I do. But this is kind of evidence in the things I do, right, from starting businesses that protect our planet to rewilding my house and collecting a ridiculous amount of animals. So it makes sense to go and figure out yours. All right, now you know yourself, hopefully.

What is it that you want to get across to people? This is where you want a brand statement. This is what do you stand for, why do you do the work you do, and if you can articulate that into a sentence, you're doing well. I'm not saying you go around saying that. You do want to have an idea of what that brand statement is. It's like your purpose, but it's what you want to get across to people. Mine are very much the same thing, but they aren't always, right?

I want to inspire people to care. I'm not gonna go around saying that in a video because it's kind of weird and stilted, but that's kind of the brand statement. You know what, I'm working on my brand statement. It feels weird, a personal brand statement, right? This all feels a little foreign because it's all about you, and we are taught to be, you know, to squash us down a little bit, but I promise you, if you can get over the weird ick feeling of talking about yourself. This is a really valuable aspect of your brand, your business brand. Next up, what do you stand for? What do you stand against? What are your values?

Yes, this is again exactly the same thing we did for your brand brand. To stand out, you've got to stand for something and conversely, you've got to stand against other things. And yes, that means some people won't like you. Spoiler alert, they already don't. My favourite saying, I read it on TikTok, sorry, I don't know who to attribute it to, you could be the sweetest peach on the tree.

Some people just don't like peaches. I'm gutted, I'm allergic to peaches and I love them. Now I know you know your audience, but let's get to know them better, right? You wanna know their demographics, their preferences, their pain points and aspirations. What do they want from you? No idea?

How about asking them? You will have people around you, you will have friends, you potentially already have a following on social media, ask them. What do they like to know about you? What do they want to know about more? What are they perhaps less interested in? Obviously people are, particularly the ones that are close to you, are going to be a little reticent about saying what they don't care about, but you can tease it out in a cleverly worded question or two. And that's the foundations of a personal brand. But let's stop and do a little bit of a check. Does everything you've written down, everything you've thought about, does it resonate with you? Is it true to who you are? Is it reflective of your motivation and values?

Is it multifaceted because you are multifaceted? Or is it something you think people want to hear, want to see? Is it a carbon copy of someone you've seen that's successful? Be true to yourself and really work on this bit because it's the key to everything. All right, let's move on. Now you want to set up an online presence.

You can have a website if you want, but it's not critical. What is critical, in my opinion, is a newsletter list because you own that. We have no idea what's going to happen to social media channels in the future, but you will always own a newsletter list. You'll actually notice if you follow me on Instagram that I have done this too. I've been collecting email addresses for a while. I've not sent one out for a while, so I have a bit of slack. But start collecting email addresses.

You want to be on different social media channels depending on your audience. And yeah, LinkedIn should be a big one here, but they need to reflect the personal brand you want to build. If you want to build a more professional personal brand, is TikTok the right outlet? I would argue that actually, well, it could be. But LinkedIn most certainly is. Have a think about who sits where on what channel, because you do not want to do every channel badly. Pick one or two and do them well.

You want to develop a content strategy. So this is one that aligns with that personal brand, that beautiful brand that you have just built and resonates with the audience that you know everything about. Now depending on what it is you want to do, you can create things like articles or videos or podcasts or infographics, whatever it is, you want to be consistent about it because you want to ensure that not only do you have a consistent voice and personality, you have a consistent visual brand. Now, I can't help you with that because I am not a visual creator.

Everything I design is stupid. But there are people out there who can help you do that or Canva. You know, I don't know how we live without Canva and I've only been using it for the last couple of years. But content creation is where you shine. That's where your personal brand becomes a brand, right? You need to tailor your content to your audience's needs, which is easy enough to do because again, you just asked them.

You want to solve their problems, address their pain points, and you want to offer insights so that you become, to use the term again, the thought leader in their eyes. You should definitely experiment with different content formats and platforms. So you could do videos on YouTube, you could do a podcast, or you could do blogs on your website, and you could do short form TikTok videos. Whatever you think you can do, do that. Don't overcommit. Don't be me.

But also, there's no harm in trying lots of little things. Try a couple of blog posts and you think, you know what? I don't love this. I'm not going to do it. The only problem is when you are starting out, you're not really going to know what works because it takes time to build an audience up. So don't quit too quickly. The key in the beginning is to pick something that you can stick to and then add to it later as you grow.

Posting once a day is genuinely difficult. Don't aim for that. I know all the social media gurus say once a day is what you must be doing. They used to say five a day, so once is a win. It's a lot of work. Start slow. You know, beyond social media and the usual, also networking probably comes to play depending on what industry you're in, what business you're in.

If you're an entrepreneur, you're probably already going to industry events and conferences and webinars. You want to connect with peers and potential collaborators or investors, and you want to build relationships with them. I have a module on networking because networking is something I despise, but it is really useful. Again, that's on businessforbetter.com. Should you, like me, need to have your hand held to the whole how the hell to do the networking thing? And if you're one of those mythical unicorns that just knows how to work a room, teach us your ways.

You also want to think about thought leadership. I can't believe I've said that three times in one podcast and I've never said it before in my life. Here we are. Thought leadership is basically content marketing, right? So it's providing articles like I do for stuff. It's podcasts like this one. It's trying to get your content on refutable platforms.

You can write for Entrepreneur Magazine, for example, if you want to. There are ways and means to do this. And as a podcast, I mean, why not start one? A lot of people start blogs. There are 600 million blogs, only 5 million podcasts. And more and more people every year are listening to podcasts. It's something to consider. Offer to speak if you can bear it because public speaking is not for everyone, but offer to speak at conferences, panel discussions, Q&As, fireside chats, again, get that name out there. One thing to consider here is don't be everywhere.

It is tempting when you are building up to being as many places as possible, right? But you will find that people do get sick of you, do get sick of your name and there is also like this feeling of, they're everywhere, what do I care, you know? You want to be a little bit exclusive. You want to really pick your opportunities. You want to make sure they resonate again with their target audience but also with you, your values and that brand you're building. That's not to say you don't talk to people who don't agree with you.

I highly recommend you speak specifically with people with different perspectives for you. Not only is it good for you and your learning, but it's also good for audiences. But just, you know, don't be everywhere. The tricky bit can be balancing a personal brand with your business branding and you should be really careful not to mix them up. Your business, at the end of the day, whilst we want to make it personable and that it stands for something and stands against other things, it does still need to have a level of professionalism. You'll probably notice I swear a lot, but you will hopefully also notice that I don't swear on Incredibles, the social media. I don't swear on Business with Better. There is a line for me for the personal versus the business, and you've got to find that. There is room to build your personal brand without completely embedding your face in your business. You should not share your entire life as part of your brand anyway. That is where a lot of people do go wrong.

For example, you won't see my animals on my business platforms most of the time, but I share them almost daily on my personal accounts. So you want to have a think about personal interests that perhaps don't align with your business niche. They can still be part of your personal brand on your personal channels, but maybe it's not something you share on your business ones. And again, I can't really give you hard and fast rules here because this depends on what it is you want to achieve. You can totally have a day in the life reel on your business channel as long as it's somewhat related to what your business wants to do. Now, not your products. The best brands on social media barely even talk about their product, but related to the core purpose of why it exists in the first place. I'm going to reiterate, two things to consider when you're building a personal brand and that's why I really recommend you enter it slowly. Time management. It is hard to juggle both a business and a personal brand.

It's time consuming. How much commitment can you give to one or both? You need to think about where your efforts and where your resources are best placed. A lot of businesses, as I said, start purely from a personal brand and then expand into that separate business persona, which is often a good option in those early stages. I did this with a teak and as the business launched, I then added to it social media channels and carried that audience over at a very small scale. You'll see lots of influencer brands and we'll talk about why some of those are successful and not in another podcast. You can probably figure out the difference yourself. But if it was me and I only had the opportunity to focus on one and my business didn't exist yet, I would focus on building a personal brand. And then I would use that to leapfrog into the business brand, if that makes sense. The other one, of course, is you need to be consistent. This is a lot to do, it's a lot to think about. Maintaining one business or brand requires a clear purpose and point of view. To do another is, you know, it's a lot of work. So you need to establish your business identity separate from you as a founder, and then figure out how you and your personal brand fits into that. There does need to be some consistency in messaging and values, but you don't need to be the same thing and you shouldn't be. It confuses your audience. Hopefully that has been slightly clarifying with personal brands because I'm finding I'm getting more and more questions about it and a lot of interest in how you do it. I'm going to put a bit of a template worksheet up on our new podcast website. We will find this episode in a transcript. Now that's what I call.com and it will just work you through how on earth you create a personal brand.

It's basically what I've just gone through today. You will also, of course, find more information on businesswithbetter.com. If this is your first podcast, it's a free resource on building ethical businesses. And if you have questions, you can always join the Business With Better community on Facebook. There's over 500 members now who are super active and keen to help and answer people's questions. So good luck.

Go and build your personal brand. It is absolutely worth it if you can spare the time and the mental capacity. And if you've got any questions, drop them in the comments. Don't forget to let me know what you think I should put in my book and we should name incredible flavors. Kia ora. Short and sweet like all the best podcasts right? Thank you for learning with me it is always an absolute blast to put these together and share these stories some of them which are a little ridiculous and they all come from building a business that will hopefully change the world. If you enjoyed this episode don't keep it to yourself and feel free to drop me a rating and hit that subscribe button. Kia ora and see you next week where I will have another and hit that subscribe button.

Kia ora and see you next week where I will have another incredible episode for you.

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