What is a “personal brand?”
A brand is how you make people feel when they interact with your business.
A personal brand is the way you present your business to the world using YOU in the forefront.
It is the combination of your values, personality, and interests that make you unique. Your personal brand is (whether you realize it or not) reflected in everything you do, from the way you dress and speak, to the way you interact with others.
Establishing a strong personal brand can help you to stand out from the crowd and attract new clients. It can also help you to build trust and credibility.
Some examples of personal brands are Oprah, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Joanna Gaines. These people also have MASSIVE companies associated with their personal brands, and their personal brands make them relatable.
Some examples of non-personal brands would be companies like Coca-Cola, Tesla, Starbucks – big companies who probably you don’t know who the owner is or if you do, maybe you don’t associate the owner to the company (Elon Musk with Tesla is a contradiction for sure).
Think about brands you interact with that are personal brands vs non-personal brands.
What are the benefits of having a personal brand?
1. People like to buy from people
I’m sure there have been times you could have bought a shirt on Etsy but you bought one from someone in your community because you wanted to support them.
For example, I wanted matching shirts for my daughter and I when we went to Disney World last year. There is a local mom who makes t-shirts and I ordered from her. I could have bought it on Etsy, but I follow this mom on IG and I know her kids and I wanted to support her. That’s a difference between a personal and non-personal brand right?
You might not have the volume that Coca-Cola has, but you have an advantage because you have more of a personal relationship with people.
I’m sure this has happened to you too, but I also buy from personal brands I don’t know personally, but just that I straight up like them even though I don’t personally know them. I just *feel* like I know them because of their personal brand.
Do you have anyone like that? That you wanna buy from THEM not specifically because their products are cheaper or even better but because you just like them? That is the power of a personal brand!
2. It makes creating content so much easier
I don’t have to think about my photography business and how a professional brand would present a certain information. I get to present it as a human person who wants to connect with other human people! And that is relieving to me! It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders knowing that I get to be myself and not a big, professional organization.
3. You attract people like you and get to work with people like you
Have you ever had a client hire you and you just didn’t vibe? Nothing bad happened, but you just had very little in common and your personalities were different? I have for sure and it makes your job more challenging.
On the flip side, have you ever worked with someone who was literally like your bestie from the moment you met them? I most definitely have, quite often in fact!
What’s cool about having a personal brand is that it really helps you enforce attracting your right people and repelling your wrong people.
4. It builds trust faster
I tell my students in Marketing School this all the time that if you can stand out with your opinions, lifestyle, quirks or likes/dislikes that go against the “norm,” you’re going to find YOUR PEOPLE.
When you find your people like that, when they connect with you in that level that is when price starts to become a non-issue.
In order for them to connect with you as a personal brand, you have to put yourself out there. You have to share what you think about things and share a little bit of your life in a professional way.
With something like birth and newborn photography, people want to hire someone trustworthy and the truth is, whether we realize or not that we are doing it, we trust people who appear to be like us. So a personal brand has a win/win effect – you attract people you’re likely to get along with and simultaneously build trust with them faster.
What are the downsides to having a personal brand?
1. You’re opening yourself up to judgment
People have opinions on anything. Depending on what you share, you’re potentially opening yourself up to judgment.
Now, here’s the thing: somebody judging you is a reflection of them more than you, but I just want you to think about that when you’re considering sharing things.
It can be a lot of pressure with a personal brand to always be “on” when people you don’t know start to recognize who you are, especially in public.
2. If you ever want to expand your brand beyond just you, it can be more challenging.
Whenever I brought Stephanie to start photographing births with me in 2019, it presented a bit of a challenge to have Tavia Redburn Photography and a different photographer would photograph births.
We overcame it and our bookings did not really slow down with Stephanie primarily photographing births. However, we had to do a lot of client education on how they are not getting a lesser version by having her photograph their birth.
We had done such a great job building up this personal brand (and I know a lot of you have done that too!), the only thing is when you are using your name as photography company, then people want you photographing their session!
So that’s something to consider just in case you wanted to bring on other photographers or even potentially sell your business in the future, I want you to think about that now when it comes to a personal brand.
Ultimately, if I had to go back and do it all over again, I would build a personal brand because the pros outweigh the cons.
Should you use your personal name as your photography name?
We talk about this a lot inside Marketing School for Photographers and one of the things that makes it really easy is to add your name at the end of your photography name (ex. Flowering Blossom Photography by Tavia Redburn). You can still put your name in it while having a company brand and you can still be a personal brand!
How to Build a Personal Brand?
1. Use your name in your business name
Even if you want to have a creative company name, add your name at the end so that people could still recognize your name in your business.
2. Photo or reel with your face in your feed every 5-9 posts
The reason behind every 5-9 posts is so when people go to your Instagram account, they would be able to see you in the most recent 9 posts or the top portion of your feed.
Part of being a personal brand is for your name and face to be recognized.
3. Decide – what’s your “thing?”
Not in business specifically and not your niche, but you as a person. What’s something you could talk about right now for 20 minutes without notes? What’s something if someone asks you about – you could talk about forever? What’s something your friends and family know not to mention to you because if they do you won’t stop talking about it? For me, that has been a lot of things in my life, but its VBAC specifically.
4. Write like you speak
For some reason, people think they should be REALLY grammatically correct when writing blog posts. But whenever you write like you speak, people start to connect with you. So look at what words, phrase, emojis, punctuations (or even the lack of punctuation) do you say and use all the time in your day-to-day life? The way you are talking to your friends and family is you! So think about how can you bring more of that to the public, to your ideal clients, and in social media?
Figuring out that thing about you is super valuable when you are connecting with your ideal clients.
“Should you lean more away from a personal brand if you are terrible at making friends?”
I think that as adults and especially moms, we don’t have a lot of opportunities to make new friends. It can be challenging. I would ask you though why you think you’re terrible at making new friends, because I am wondering if it’s the opportunity that is not around for you to make friends more than you’re not good at making friends. So I just want to challenge that belief for you a little bit, that you’re not good at making friends.
Should you lean more away from a personal brand? No, because I think that there are cool things about you that your ideal client could connect with.
“I’m an air force journalist. So I often feel pressured to write “properly.” Casual writing is so much less stressful. Thank you!”
Yes and your clients don’t care! In fact, I’d say that they do care and they want to connect with you as a human and not as a professional writer. When you have a personal brand, it’s approachable. You’re just a person that they can connect with. It doesn’t have to be this like super stuffy and formal thing.
“I’m also not good at making friends and I’m very introverted.”
I don’t think that you have to be extroverted. In fact, if you think I’m extroverted, I’m not. I like to be by myself, listen to podcasts and go on a walk by myself, talk to close friends and family, and that’s about it.
However, I know the benefits of doing things like going live or attending networking events for my business. And so I do them, but I don’t think that you have to be extroverted to have a personal brand.
I want to distinguish between having a personal brand and being like some kind of an influencer. Just because you have a personal brand doesn’t mean that you have to be like an influencer-level type of person.
A personal brand is just saying the way that people connect with your business is through you. It doesn’t have to be anything that you’re not.
And so if you’re not an extrovert and you want to put yourself out there and the true things about you and your introvertedness, there are still ways to do that as an introvert. Does that make sense? Hopefully that offers something.