Written by Hayley Berry
A brand used to be all about the business, however, the personal brands of the individuals behind the business can now be equal to, if not more of a selling point for consumers depending on the project. From fashion editors to startup co-founders, personal branding offers yet another angle for companies and individuals to gain recognition to their work.
As Instagram-obsessed as we are, we know that those with strong, unique personalities and carefully curated feeds can equate to huge followers and even bigger financial opportunities to amplify one’s message. Social media is filled people sharing everything from highly curated scenes to vulnerable, intimate details, and it’s no wonder that the ins and outs of personal branding can feel overwhelming to those without the predilection for sharing. The truth is that often, even the most seemingly open individual willing to share anything and everything, has likely been cleverly strategized to give off that exact impression.
You may be wondering, just where is line between creating a personal brand that supports personal and business goals, and actually blocking the opportunities I’m seeking?
It’s a worthwhile question for job seekers in particular. A recent study concluded that 70% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals say they have rejected candidates based on information they found online. And with nearly half of US adults saying search results when Googling themselves aren’t positive, there’s never been a more important time to streamline your personal brand and control your message.
As a communications professional, there in value in ensuring those Search results showcase the very best from your career. There is value in leveraging Instagram as a relationship-building tool and opportunity for editors, clients and partners to see the human being behind the company, the person behind the pitch.
To help you find the tone for your own personal branding efforts, here are 6 mistakes to avoid when building your reputation in this way.
1. Images that are a total downer
Check out some of the biggest names online; coaches and speakers and yes, influencers. Notice how they always look like they’re having the time of their life with big open smiles? That is because we are attracted to smiles, to inviting open facial expressions. Filling your feed with low quality images, “moody” photography, low energy expressions etc will keep people scrolling. Instead offer images that invite your audience to step into your life – that’s attraction marketing 101.
2. Inconsistent branding
Always remember brand consistency in everything you do. Use the same filters on your photos, choose clothes from the same color palette and develop signature visual elements that lead a person to instantly recognize your branding, even without a headshot. The easiest way to do this is to choose a signature color and stick with it.
3. Vague messaging
Who are you, who do you serve and how do you do it? If your personal branding – from bio to captions – doesn’t make it crystal clear who your target audience is, well then you’re in the big marketing cliche; if you’re targeting everyone, you’re targeting no one. Speak directly to your community and showcase specific stories and expertise that allow you to come from a powerful, leadership position. Much in the same way that you adjust your pitch based on the publication, adjust your personal branding to attract your intended audience.
4. Ranting isn’t working
Sure, we all love a good takedown, but a consistently negative tone of voice that is the written equivalent a feed filled with poorly designed memes. Sure, some people curse on their social media with a caveat of being ‘raw’ and can get away with it, but you are not a singer selling out stadiums, you are a business service provider. I once had a client use a brand account to rail against a traffic ticket – so not the place. Similar to #1, you want to leave people feeling positive, connected and supported. For anything else, call your best friend.
5. Vaguebooking, Sh*tposting and all the rest
Voicing your beliefs, political affiliations and perspective can work to strengthen your personal brand. Here’s what doesn’t: using social media as your personal soapbox, engaging in a slagging match on social media or sharing intimidate details of your personal life (when you really should be going to therapy to deal with all that), will erode any professional strides you are attempting to make.
Above all else, just keep calm! Something made you angry? Tempted to rant about it on your website, on your social channels and to your clients? Take a moment and walk away. Reacting and shooting from the hip may be ok in your personal life but it’s not going to win you that client or secure you that coverage in your professional life.
Hayley Berry is a branding expert and stylist at Her Brand. Hayley works with female entrepreneurs on their brand styling to create strong and powerful brands. With over 10 years experience in branding, Hayley is hot on branding etiquette and empowers female entrepreneurs with their own branding. Follow her on Instagram @_herbrand !