In an effort to get customer’s attention, companies continuously invest in flashy ads and smart marketing campaigns. Today, we’re becoming less tolerant when it comes to conventional ads. Our trust in companies has decreased the last decades considerably. Companies are looking for ways to respond to this ‘anti-corporate’ trend.
Most people think of branding, as a company logo, a slogan, website or company brochure that summarizes all the amazing products/services the company has to offer. They especially mention why you should choose them over their competitors. Many people are bored with this, because we are perfectly able to make choices ourselves.
Why we trust people instead of companies
For years, we are bombarded with ads such as billboards, radio, tv- and online newspapers and magazines as spam in our mailbox on a daily basis. Companies constantly try to persuade you, everywhere you go. We have lost trust and sincerity in companies because of this overkill in ads and tend to believe that companies make offers only to sell more. That’s why we trust people much more than companies. So, it’s not surprising that Michael Brenner and the Content Marketing Institute predict ‘ad blocking’ as the most important content marketing trend of 2016.
Look at the picture below. What do you see?
Of course, it’s an American electric socket, but I bed you saw a human face in it that also suggests emotion. Is it astonishment? Fear? Scientists call this phenomenon pareidolia; the continuous tendency to see human faces in all kinds of objects. As human beings we are strongly drawn to other people, so we project human attributes on non-human things. That’s how trends like humanizing brands, brand personalities and social brand names have risen.
The rise of Business Celebs
Personal branding becomes increasingly important. So the stronggrowth of business celebs of the last couple of years isn’t surprising. Also increasingly more CEO’s and politicians are developing their brand by showing their ‘human’ side. It also works the other way around, because business people and entrepreneurs have developed a personal brand that’s now one of their most valuable assets. What’s Virgin without Richard Branson, Disney without Walt and Apple without Steve Jobs? Neil Patel, a successful internet entrepreneur shares how he earns millions with his personal brand each year in one of his blogs.
So there is a strong correlation between success and personal branding. By creating a strong personal brand it’s possible to position yourself as a go-to expert. This image boost creates new opportunities and chances for everyone, not just CEO’s, entrepreneurs and politicians. A strong personal brand can have a positive influence on your career.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room,” says the founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos.
And that’s exactly how it works. Names are easier to remember when you have a face with it. Let’s say, you are looking for a web designer to create a new website for you. What are you going to do? You ask your friends, acquaintances and family if they can recommend someone.
Friend A, Acquaintance B and Family member C all recommend someone else. In most cases you’ll get a first and last name of this person.
Next, you’re going to google this person for information. The result you get, plus the recommendation of your acquaintance will decide if this person can make you an offer or not.
Google doesn’t find anything on the recommendation of friend A. The recommendation of acquaintance B is unclear because you see that this person is a photographer, writes copy, teaches paining workshops and designs websites once in a while. You google the third person as well and find a very clear LinkedIn profile. This person also lives in the neighborhood, is specialized in SEO and creates websites for companies in the creative industry that look very nice! It’s exactly what you’re looking for! So, a good (online) reputation does provide you customers!
The purpose of online personal branding
The above example shows the importance of (online) personal branding, because it shows that you’ll choose someone you feel comfortable with, such as a web designer, despite his/her company name, right? People buy from people they trust instead of companies. So, people better know who you are. John Rampton shares in his blog on Forbes 5 reasons for CEO’s to promote their personal brand:
1. Distinguish yourself from others;
2. Attract the right customers, clients and employees;
3. Position yourself as a leader/expert within your niche;
4. It shows where you stand for;
How does your digital footprint look like?
Do you know what people find about you online? Google yourself to find out. If you already did, what did you find? What did you think of your digital footprint? It’s the only way in which people will see you these days. Your online personality is defined by your online content, brand and persona. The advantage is that you can influence your digital footprint all by yourself. The first thing Google, in most cases, displays, when you type in a name, is a LinkedIn profile and/or your Twitter account. LinkedIn is like a ‘personal website’. It’s the first page people click to find information about you. The great advantage is that you can decide yourself what content you display on your LinkedIn profile!
When you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, it’s good to create one. You can add blogs, photo’s, designs, links, video’s and recommendations in addition to the general profile attributes. That’s how you can distinguish yourself. Also add a link to your website, but make sure LinkedIn only displays who you are. Display what you do or your team does on your company page. We recommend you to fill out your LinkedIn profile as much as possible for the best results. Then, visitors will get a complete picture of you and you also score high in search results. Make sure you add a recent and compelling picture of yourself, because profiles without a (recent) profile photo are perceived less reliable.
Google will EAT you!
The EAT Acronym comes from the Google Quality Rating Guidelines, the Google Handbook that trains people to decide how Google’s algorithm succeeds in rating the quality of websites. Google wants people to focus on three quality requirements: expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
Expertise: People want to do business with people that know what they are talking about.
Authority: This is a higher level of expertise. You can be an expert on a certain topic, but nobody knows you. When people listen to you, recommend you and share your vision, you’ve officially an authority in your field.
Trustworthiness: It takes time to trust someone, so you have to earn this trust, just as in the offline world. That’s why it’s important to take your time to build your online personal brand, so you can develop it steadily. Once you’ve earned the trust from someone, they’ll put you on their shortlist much faster. The need to replace you for someone else decreases.
So what Google does to determine the quality of websites comes close to how we rate someone in real life.
Don’t forget your company website
Your company probably has a company website. That’s good, but have you looked at it critically? On your website you mention what you do. It’s important, because of the EAT Acronym, to integrate an ‘about me’ or ‘about us’ page for more information about yourself or your team. Did you know that the ‘about’ page is the most visited page on a website after the homepage? Although it’s important to distinguish who you are (LinkedIn) and what you have to offer (website), it’s useful to write short copy on who you are on your website (including a recent profile picture), what drives you and how you add value to the team and organization. This makes it easier for your audience to recognize themselves in you. Make sure this copy matches your LinkedIn profile.
Spoiler alert: Building a personal brand takes time!
A personal brand is like a garden. Once you have laid the foundation and planted the seeds, the real work begins. It takes quite some effort and commitment to grow you brand and reap the benefits. When you continuously let your personal brand develop, put consistently time and effort in, focus on the response of your audience and sharpen your focus, you steadily see results.
Virgin CEO Richard Branson explains it as follows: “Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.”
Also Neil Patel writes about this aspect in his blog: “Let me tell you that it is hard and time-consuming. You can’t expect wonders if you aren’t willing to put in the effort. Plus, you can’t expect results right away. It will take 6 months to a year of hard work to start seeing results.”
It was never more easy to share your name and story to create (online) connections and build relationships. Your company name may change, but your own name stays the same your whole life. An online personal brand is a valuable digital asset and footprint that continues to exist after your current job and career.
You can document ‘your’ intellectual property. It might be possible for Google to still index your name in a 100 years. This means your digital identity outlives your real life identity.
I have showed you in this blog what personal branding is, why it’s important for you and how you can create yours. I’m curious if you are busy building your personal brand and if there are things you find difficult. What’s your opinion?