Personal branding is a topic that I’ve focused my entire creative career and expertise on. This probably started as a mission to be voted “most non-conformist” every year, from middle school to graduation day. Or perhaps it comes from my need to feel as if the work I’m doing has meaning and purpose that contributes to my personal identity. Or maybe it’s simply wanting to live a wholehearted, authentic, and creatively aligned life. Either way, I’m not backing down anytime soon.
Personal branding is recognizing that business is personal. People buy from people, therefore your personality is a business asset. And this is where personal branding gets tricky: who you are as a person is layered and complex and always evolving. So how do you know which aspects of your personality should show up in your business and where do you draw appropriate boundaries?
Think of your personal brand as a dinner party.
Here at Braid Creative, in our one-on-one work, we have an exercise called “dinner party” where you invite a handful of guests over for dinner—they can be celebrities, historical, fictional, or even an archetype—as a way to uncover aspects of your personal brand. If you were to invite 4-6 people over for dinner, who would it be? What are the qualities, characteristics, and values of these dinner guests? List out each of your guest’s expertise and what advice they would share. You can even describe what they wear.
Now here’s the kicker! Each of these guests actually represent an aspect of your own personality, expertise, or aspiration. Look for the themes and patterns across the “dinner table.” What do your guests have in common with each other? What do they have in common with you? Which guests really inspire and attract – what makes them so magnetic? If your guest could get ahold of your brand, what would they change or do first?
Earlier this week Tara posted the two things our clients always say when they hire us: 1) “I want a brand that feels like me!” and 2) “I want a brand that is clear.”
While the dinner party exercise may feel like you’re getting clarity around someone else’s personal brand, what you’re really doing is recognizing more specific aspects of yourself that you admire in them. You are narrowing in on that special thing that makes them memorable. You can more clearly see where the overlaps and disconnects are in how you’re making an impression on your own audience.
Once you know who you are and what you want to be known for, you can make more decisive decisions around the more surface-y stuff like the colors, logo design, and images you use on your website and in your social media. When you get stumped, you can ask, “What would my dinner guests say? How can I translate this bit of advice or inspiration into my own voice? Or how can I apply just a bit of the style that admire in them, to my own know-how?”
Remember! You’re never copy-catting your dinner guests, instead you are using that distilled aspect of them you love to remind yourself of your own voice and style. Try it the next time you write a blog post, email, or social media caption. Your dinner guests may just help you get across the message and tone you’ve been struggling to deliver!