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I’m Jacob Cass, the founder of JUST™ Creative. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world. My specialty is logo & brand identity design. JUST™ Get in touch.

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The Art & Secrets of Personal Branding

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I originally wrote this article for the book, Logo Nest Volume 2. It has been republished here with permission. Photos are at the end of the article.


Personal branding is by no means a new or light topic, but with the rise of social technologies, personal branding is as accessible as ever, meaning you have so much more opportunity, but also so much more competition.

For you to stand out amongst the noise, you must become a valued brand. That brand is ‘You’. Take a closer look at the (st)art of personal branding and see how you can use it to start building your own personal brand. Brand You™.

1. Set Goals, Plan & Define Your Brand

Step One. Set Goals, Plan & Define Your Brand

Before creating your brand, you must set specific goals and plan accordingly. You should take a look at where you are at now and where you want to be in the future.

Are you trying to become an authority in your niche? Why? Are you planning to get a new job position or become a stay-at-home freelancer? Are you trying to find more clients and / or increase your prices?

Figuring out why and where you want to be in the future will help you decide how to do it.

Ultimately, your goal should be to make your planned self-impression equal to how other people perceive you.

Re-read that. If you can do this, then you will become a master of your domain.

As an example of a ‘successful’ personal brand, Darren Rowse is the leader in the ‘how to make money blogging’ niche (among others) and although his site is not self-named, his personal brand has grown based how he communicates through his own brand, websites & social channels.

After you have figured out your goals, chosen your niche and set out a plan, you need to start creating your brand.

2. Know, Understand & Believe In Your Brand

Step Two Understand & Believe In Your Brand

Your personal brand needs to have a look and feel, as well as a way to communicate, but this goes much further than having a logo & social media accounts. You need to maintain a consistent ‘corporate image’ in all mediums and at all times. See the differences between branding & visual identity here.

The fundamental idea and core concept behind having this ‘corporate image’ is that everything you do, everything you own and everything you produce, should reflect the values and aims of your personal brand as a whole.

It is the consistency of this core idea that makes your brand. It shows others what you stand for, what you believe in and why you exist.

As an example, let’s look at the well-known IT company, Apple. Although they are not a personal brand, the branding concept remains the same; they have a consistent ‘corporate image’.

Apple projects a humanistic corporate culture and a strong corporate ethic, one, which is characterised by volunteerism, support of good causes & involvement in the community. These values of the business are evident throughout everything they do, from their innovative products and advertising, right through to their customer service. Apple is an emotionally humanist brand that really connects with people – when people buy or use their products or services; they feel part of the brand, like a tribe even. It is this emotional connection that creates their brand – not purely their products and a bite sized logo.

If you can apply these same core principles to your own brand then it will be easier for others to see & know what you’re all about.

“Remember, it’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.”
-PAUL ARDEN

3. Create & Maintain Your Brand

Step Three - Create and Maintain Your Brand

After you have set your goals, outlined your target market & defined how you wish to be perceived, then you can start to form the foundation of your brand. Below are the essential building blocks that will help you do this.

A Unique Visual Identity

One of the easiest ways to differentiate your self from the competition is by having a unique visual identity. This visual identity should be consistent and reflective of your initial goals, yet flexible enough to work across all areas of your communication. Ensure, at minimum, that you have a business card, letterhead, an up-to-date CV, website and a variety of online social profiles.

Your Own Website, Domain Name & Email Address

Do you know what comes up when people type your name into Google? Hopefully your name and website, but if not, a quick way to climb to the top of search engines is by having your own domain such as JohnSmith.com.

On your website, you should have information about you, links to your other websites, your social profiles, as well as a blog and if applicable, a portfolio.

You should also set up a personally branded email address such as john@johnsmith.com as this looks much more professional than a free email service such as johnsmith@ymail.com.

Social Networks. (Engage & Communicate!)

It’s one thing to have Facebook or Twitter, but actually using it right for your personal brand is another thing. You should remember that everything you do, say and share is reflective of ‘Brand You’, both personally and professionally.

Ask yourself, what value are you providing to your friends and followers? Are you engaging and communicating with people, not just sharing what you had for breakfast? Have you filled out your online profiles to their fullest extent? Are you linking to your websites within each profile? What about your email signature?

There are many ways to help promote you and your brand, but the simplest way is by making it easy for people to find and communicate with you. When they do, be sure to engage & provide value.

Brand Maintenance, Security & Monitoring

Your brand is your business and your reputation. Why wouldn’t you monitor what people are saying about you?

Use Google Alerts, Twitter Search and the many other tools available to you so you know when you are mentioned somewhere on the web. This allows you to put out fires early, as well as network and thank people who are helping or linking to you.

The Secret To Personal Branding…

Secret to Personal Branding

Remember, planning is the foundation of your personal brand and the execution builds the structure of that brand, but ultimately, it comes down to what people say about you, not what you say about yourself, thus the ultimate goal is to make your planned self-impression equal to how other people perceive you.

That is the secret to personal branding.

More branding & logo articles:

Cover of Logo Nest Vol 2
Contents
Art of Personal Branding
Art of Personal Branding by Jacob Cass
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20 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • Stephen Cree Reply

    Very good point – ‘ it comes down to what people say about you, not what you say about yourself’… It sounds like an obvious one but I think it passes many people by and these are the ones who walk around with open mouths and closed ears. I think sifting feedback and working with what is kept is probably an article in itself but certainly a key ingredient to a strong personal brand. Really good article. Thanks…

  • Nickkol Lewis Reply

    Great article. You make quite a few excellent points! I have visited your blog a few times. Your articles are full of a wealth of information that is both inspiring and very helpful. I have just recently started a blog and will definitely add you to my blogroll. Many thanks…

  • Chatman R. Reply

    I like your second point, Jacob, about understanding and believing in your brand. Your brand isn’t a costume you take on and off at your convenience. If you want people to know where your values lie, your true values, it has to shine in every aspect of your brand. If you say you’re committed to great customer service, you can’t skimp on that. If you pride yourself on top-notch, standards-compliant code, if you write it in any context your potential or current clients are going to expect you to live up to your word of quality. Consistency is huge, and I’m surprised when a few people forget that.

  • Thomas Reply

    This article is well timed. I am in the process of creating my own brand as a freelance designer and frankly, I’ve never ventured into more difficult territory before. It’s when we have to explain ourselves that we realize we know very little. The journey of creating a personal brand often takes us through quite a bit of self analysis and soul searching.

  • Naveen Reply

    Great article Jacob. Loved it :)

  • web design Reply

    This article is well timed. I am in the process of creating my own brand as a freelance designer

  • Chris @ Online Ventures Reply

    You touched on branding I would like to add my two cents to that!

    Branding and coming up with a unique name needs to be more thought out, Me personally I would not try to think of a brand name in a day, I would give a week to come up with some really unique brand names, research on Google to see if they have not already been taken.

    Say after you have about a dozen idea`s talk with a couple of your creative friends and see what they think is the best.

  • LOJO Reply

    Great article mate +1 to your words. Really made me to go through the complete blog.

  • RB Reply

    re: communicating with your audience. Through social networking is always tough. Facebook and Twitter both end up being extensions to customer support sometimes and you’ve not got a lot of say on building your visual identity at either place.

    The idea of building your own community and using them as doors to that seems like a much better attraction – at least you’re retaining them on your own website at that point.

  • Sherlyn Kuntz Reply

    it to start building your own personal brand.

  • chauffeur gezocht Reply

    When they do, be sure to engage & provide value.

    http://www.onzechauffeur.nl/prive-chauffeur

  • Anne Bevan Reply

    Thank you, Jacob,
    You have clarified and illuminated many issues I have been working on. our insights pertain to many areas beyond corporate or commercial branding. So glad I found you.

    Best wishes for a great year,
    Anne Bevan

  • omniahefeny Reply

    http://www.yassertaha.net/
    ???? ?????? ??????? ??????? ????? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ?????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ??? ??????

  • Libby Reply

    I found designing for myself the hardest task I had faced but my advice is to stick with your gut feeling and don’t ask to many people. Yes that was don’t (apart from getting it checked for spelling), I had been given many different opinions but at the end of the day it was for me and I was a designer. Once I had completely finished the project and it had gone to print I showed it to people and the feedback was mostly positive.
    I have been told by a few people I did the right thing not listening to them as the outcome was better.

    (obviously this only works for projects for yourself)

  • Mark Sims Reply

    I’ve always found designing for myself a lot trickier than for other people, whether it’s my own visual identity, or a new promo flyer or website. I spent an eternity trying to create an exciting new and unique identity for myself and got nowhere…in the end I gave in and just went with something simple, to the point. Kind of like me as a designer, so I guess it fits.

    I honestly don’t think your own brand identity, logo etc really matters that much. I’ve never had someone say they weren’t going to hire me or not based on the strength of my own identity. They judge you on your portfolio and who you ARE are a person, that to me is the crucial aspect so it’s nice to read something that stresses about the importance of you as a ‘brand’ not just a visual presence.

  • rida Reply

    Great article Jacob. Liked it :)

  • andy edge Reply

    Great article. Designing your personnel brand is one of the most challenging tasks for any designer. Obviously your going to look around the web at various examples, but I find it helpful to not constantly compare yourself to others. Everyone is different, focus on what you do well and not what someone else might do better.

  • Christine Chandasack Reply

    My favorite and most important step-
    Step Two: Understanding and Believing in your brand! Thank you for sharing.

  • Jon Bowes Reply

    Thanks for this awesome article. I really appreciated it.

    I’m about to launch another site, I’ve had a couple big learning experiences in the past 6 months.

    This was probably the best article on personal branding I have found.

    “thus the ultimate goal is to make your planned self-impression equal to how other people perceive you.”

    I think the easiest way to do that is to know your target audience really well and appeal to their deeper inner values. Sell them big ideas. Inspire them. Engage and entertain them.

    Planning out ways to give value will help others forgive minor branding issues in the beginning with color schemes etc.

  • Jane McCurry Reply

    Great post! We use Filecamp.com to provide our clients with personalized account interfaces and login for each client or brand.
    So when they log in to our file sharing / online proofing portal they will see their own branding all over. They love it! It’s so simple and yet so effective :)

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