What is personal branding?
With personal branding - your personal brand - you make yourself part of the brand of your company. Personal branding coach Mariëlle de Munnik explains: “Potential customers form an opinion based on how you market yourself. So, ask yourself 'how do I want others to see me?'. The art is to express the answer to that question.”
Mariëlle de Munnik
Owner Mariëlle de Munnik | copywriting and communications advice
As a freelancer, De Munnik helps entrepreneurs and organisations to find their story and translate that to their website, social media, and pitches. She helps customers make choices so that their company story is precise and clear.
“With a clear and defined story, you attract more and more suitable customers.”
- Personal branding coach
- Since 2018
- Tip: bring a clear focus into your branding
A step-by-step plan for personal branding
Are you considering using a personal brand? Then think carefully about how you want to present yourself and be real. “Establish your personal brand well, apply it to all your communications and reap the long-term benefits through increased sales, satisfied customers, and word of mouth,” Sagar Pargas, owner of branding agency Senss, explains. But pay attention: “If you do not deliver what you promise or express, a mismatch will arise with the customer. This damages trust, while that trust is necessary for a long-term and pleasant (business) relationship.”
Owner Branding Agency
Pargas advises on personal branding daily: from the local roofer to the manager at an international company. According to him, personal branding is useful for every entrepreneur or for every company, because it creates a bond of trust between company and customer.
“Especially for SMEs, personal branding helps you further because you give your company a personal face.”
- Advisor personal branding
- Since 2017
- Tip: share concrete stories with a lot of details
Discover your personal brand with the following five steps
Step 1: know what you stand for
Bring focus into your personal branding and decide what you really stand for. You cannot be everything to everyone, says De Munnik. “So, make choices about what to include and what not to include in your brand expressions. This is how you attract customers who fit your brand and therefore your company.”
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I do the work I do?
- What problem do I solve or what need do I meet?
- What do I stand for?
- What do I want to radiate?
- What makes me unique?
- How do I want to be remembered?
- For what task can people wake me up at night? For example, look at your mission and vision.
Entrepreneur Angela Ursem, co-founder of the skincare brand Food for Skin, also mentions that emphasising what you really stand for and being honest is important. She also does this in her corporate communications. “Our personal mission is to make consumers more aware of healthy skin care. That is why we say that we make our products from organic tomato seed and avocado oil. We also tell you honestly that our face cream is still made in Italy, but that we prefer to have the products made locally.”
Co-founder of Food for Skin
Together with her sister, Ursem launched Food for Skin in November 2020. A brand originated from their own need: environmentally friendly skincare that works well, without microplastics and with natural ingredients..
“We focus on personal connection. Sometimes this even results in a goodwill factor.”
- Natural care products
- Since 2020
- Tip: bring people along with you in your passion
Step 2: know your target audience
Know who your target audience is and make your customers acquaintances. Pargas: “Avoid a nice marketing speech but go a step further and make connections. This starts with taking an interest in your target audience. Ursem adds: “Our followers like that we make ourselves visible and follow our personal opinions, photos and stories closely. Customers click with us and become ambassadors: people who pass on our story.”
So, do customer research. Ask your customers which problem you can solve for them and why they do business with you and not the competition. What do they value in the collaboration? These answers form the basis for your value proposition in step 3.
Step 3: discover your added value
Show why you are unique to a customer and how that helps them, explains De Munnik. “People who present themselves as a brand mainly think about their own qualities. But a story about what you are good at is not interesting for your customer. They want to know if and how you can help them. So, translate your qualities to the pain or need of your customer. Not: 'I can write smooth texts', but: 'I make sure that you get texts that really appeal to people’.”
Ursem also shares more than just success stories. “I am no longer afraid to make my voice heard. That is why I speak out about why it is important to do business sustainably. And that I find many skincare products from other brands to be rubbish because of microplastics and other unhealthy ingredients. Showing your concerns about the world and health, or failures in your company creates recognition. It is vulnerable, although I prefer to call it 'open' or 'real'."
Showing your concerns about the world and health or failures in your company creates recognition.
Step 4: translate into word and image
Words and images belong to your personal brand. They should match as closely as possible. The Munnik. “The image you communicate with your brand must match who you are and what you project. If you are calm and business-like, do not use bright pink in your corporate image, but rather a green or blue shade.”
Search for words and images that fit your person and your company. The sharper you see this picture, the closer you get to your personal brand. This is possible with the fundamentals of personal branding:
- authenticity (be real and original)
- reliability (instil trust)
- consistency (communicate regularly and always with the same message)
Ask others if the words you have come up with are right for you. Listen to the customer when they tell you why they choose you and adjust your word and image where necessary.
Step 5: communicate your personal brand
When your personal brand is ready, communicate about it. “Make sure you express your brand story in the same way on all channels, so that there is a common thread in your story,” says De Munnik. “Repetition ensures recognition of your brand story. By that, I do not mean that you have to publish the same post every time.”
De Munnik and Pargas share the following tips:
- Make a marketing plan. This gives structure to your communication. Be visible through the same communication channels your customers use. Record how and where you communicate and how often. Tell your customers how you can help them and focus your communication on their needs and not on yourself.
- Are you active on social media or do you have your own website? Then make sure that what is written there matches your personal brand. Use the words and images you have chosen everywhere. “Share personal posts regularly on LinkedIn, for example. This way you stimulate interaction, such as a like. And a like on LinkedIn is actually an ambassadorship from your network. This is how you create your own micro-influencers, and the ball starts rolling.”
- Implement your personal branding in your corporate identity. On your website and social media, but also offline in your resume, business card, poster, letterhead, or brochure. Make sure that these expressions optimally show your personal brand.
- Join network events. “Pitch your personal brand there and ask for feedback so you can sharpen your story.”
- Be specific in your communication and use details. Pargas explains why: “When you tell them that you are in Ibiza Town or that you surf every Monday in Hoek van Holland, customers get a more concrete picture. And a concrete image sticks better because it brings associations and recognition. For example, because a customer has also been to Ibiza Town or likes to swim in Hoek van Holland.”
Starting with personal branding and making yourself visible can be quite scary, says Ursem. “I was also nervous to act as the face behind Food for Skin. But now I like to tell what drives me personally: making people aware of the benefits of sustainable and natural care products. Because I communicate my opinion and dreams, I connect with my customers more easily.”