Growing up, I always adored style and art. As I grew I realized that I too, deeply loved American Studies and history. I eventually pursued both visual arts and American Studies while in college, but after graduation, I felt lost about how I could unite the two of my passions into a career. After much soul-searching, I realized that my ultimate dream would be to create a blog with my personal branding.
With no prior knowledge of branding or small businesses, I dove into available research. There were countless ideas and articles about starting a successful brand and it took me a great deal of time and research to narrow down what brand model spoke to me specifically. Looking back after having to framework The Patriot Belle, brick by brick, I have had three valuable takeaways when it comes to self-branding.
To create a sustainable personal brand you must discover your spark and the value that it holds, effectively evaluate your competition and partners, and develop a uniformly branded identity on your own platform.
The first step toward building your brand is realizing the concrete value of the content, service, or product that you are offering, which will serve as your foundation. Once you know the value of what you are offering, it will be easier to form a mission for your brand which helps you stand out in your target market. When planting the initial seeds of The Patriot Belle, I started by developing a brand voice that highlighted my brand’s main principles and services. Once I fully mapped out what my brand stood for, it was easy to assess the value that these qualities held in the heart and mind of my ideal following. [Things to consider: age, gender, economic standing, location, etc.]
Ask yourself, what makes your story unique? What do you possess that needs to be shared with the world? Are you providing a service, physical product, or knowledge? The key here is finding your spark and then amplifying that shine in an authentic way. What successful brands do best is identifying how their product would be valuable to a niche audience and providing unparalleled reliability and delivery.
Do not be afraid to be very specific when it comes to who you are as a brand.When forming your brand identity, being niche is a good thing.
The more committed you are to your authenticity the more people will connect with you as you go forward and the more valuable your brand will be to them. Once you have a mapping for the character of your personal brand, you are able to identify your distinctive strengths allowing you to speak to your ideal audience in a way they understand and relate to.
The second step of building personal branding is to research your top competition and any potential partners. Now that you have an idea of who your brand is and the value of the services that it provides, it is time to see what other brands are doing in your area of expertise so that you can successfully set yourself apart in the crowd. This also allows you to establish which brands would align for a collaboration with you, which can help rocket your success and build your credibility. When conducting your research, vital information to take note of are the services that these brands provide, the quality of said services, as well as any and all marketing strategies and consumer demographics. Once you have a good baseline on your competition and your potential partners you can identify content that is currently trending and will be well received by your audience, further adding to your brand’s value.
The third key to framework a successful personal brand is developing a uniform identity that will serve as the physical face of your brand. Do not underestimate the importance of professional design here. As a small startup, you can not afford to get lost in the crowd, making consistent branding a vital part of being positively recognized in the thrall of similar brands.
Your brand identity should be consistent across all media channels regarding logos, typography, imagery, and color palette.
This consistency is what solidifies the brand identity in the mind of the public and forms a brand “culture” for the customer. This consistency also ensures that the product and services that a brand delivers will perform to the standards set forth by its marketing promotions.
Once you have these components in place, it’s time to bring your story to life. I wholeheartedly recommend securing your own domain and hosting at this time, if you haven’t already. While Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, and other social media sites are great for cross-marketing your content and are a great source of traffic, they should never be the sole place where you build your brand because you do not technically own those platforms. These big company platforms can remove any or all content at their will. When you have worked years to build your brand from the bottom up, this kind of loss would be detrimental.
By starting your own platform with your own domain, you are protecting your content by retaining full ownership of your identity and brand following.
With each of these three keys, your personal branding is well on its way to success. Make no mistake though, the hard work isn’t over and there will be slow, discouraging, and difficult days. It is up to you and your team if you have one, to preserve and bring your message to the world. We are the dreamers building a new frontier in the sky. In our modern world, personal branding is the epitome of the American Dream and like the American Dream of our ancestors, I believe there is room for all. Virtually limitless niches mean that anyone can create a brand and platform on which to build a life of liberty and prosperity. You just need heart and a good game plan.