Of late I have been navel-gazing, I mean, assessing my values and brand. I’ve also been doing a content marketing course, which prompted me to gain further understanding about what information nonfiction authors look for. And I realised that there is no such thing as a typical author. There are many reasons to write a book and just as many reasons to build a personal brand.
This branding and values exercises is valuable. It had me thinking about things like: how does our personal brand portray us?
How can you create an authentic vibe? What puts people off… and what do they really want to know about our background/ values?
Amy Green recently wrote in SmartCompany that personal branding is:
“How you are recognised and remembered. It is the art of bringing together your strengths, skills and your true essence, then implementing strategies to amplify your unique value to the world.”
So, a bit more than just a pic and a fancy piece of design then!
Obviously, a lot of our personal brand is created from our own personality. Some people think they have to play this down, when in fact, it’s much better to play it up. Amy says that brand personality is ‘mood, quality, and character’.
If you have someone else write for you, your personal brand may be muted. It takes a delicate touch to even edit someone’s work and keep their writer’s voice strong—and to write copy in their voice takes a lot of knowledge of that person. So, the answer is, write your online copy yourself, then get a copy editor. Hmm, I wonder where one of those is?
Some famous people don’t cultivate any personal brand. Like this story about All Black Tana Umaga, where it’s all about his values and not his fancy titles. That’s actually just fine for famous people. But not for you.
Authenticity is very important to people; so much that it pays to think about how your real values and personality can shine in your pictures, articles, and videos. (No stock photos!)
Creating a Point of Difference
There are definitely many ways to stand out from others doing much the same thing. One of these ways is to flesh out a weak personal brand. Let’s illustrate with a ‘story’.
So, home loan broker Wayne has heaps of competition. He has a passion for not only getting the best home loan deal (a given), but also helping his clients understand the power of paying off their home loan faster. What one thing is Wayne really good at? He is awesome at putting graph/chart technology to work to show inspiring outcomes. He often thinks up ideas that his clients can use (e.g. 6 Easy Tips to Pay Off Your Home Loan).
So he determines his point of difference — explaining the benefits of renewing home loans, with visual data.
He could be very boring about explaining this and keep it only to personal presentations. Or he could become:
Wayne Broker – showing you creative ways to pay down your mortgage and get your life back!
Creating a Brand Story
Wayne has a story to tell. This is his brand story…
Personal motivations. He wants to help others because he went through a divorce and it took him some years to recover those financial losses. His brand story could be now, ‘think creatively’… ‘get your life back’… putting a picture in someone’s mind that they should pay down their mortgage fast, to get their life back. That it is not ‘nice to do’—it is imperative!
In branding, the emphasis tends to comes off the motivation story and becomes more about the individual and their goals. Keeping your own purpose top of mind is very important though.
These tips are also what’s very useful in good marketing, like on a blog, a video, a downloadable guide.
How can you put your superpower to work?
Personal Brand Strengths
Another element he can use is Strengths. What strengths does Wayne display in his business? I find this out for myself through reading testimonials or feedback emails. Often, some words and values keep coming out. These are obviously strengths.
If you work with others, ask them what your strengths are. We often assume that everyone can do what we can, because the thing that comes the easiest to us is usually the thing that people come to us for. For example, clients don’t come back to a psychology practice because it’s the one the doctor recommended; they come because the psychologist listened well and got the client to change their perceptions.
These strengths, along with your superpower, also empower you to be a one-of-a-kind author/speaker/entrepreneur/inventor, etc.
Besides your website design and author photo, the book has its own brand. Weird, right? I found this out when I got a perfectly designed cover for Power Marketing, and a website and bookmark to match. (I would have got the cup and the t-shirt, but didn’t know about this yet). There were a couple of people who LOOKED at the cover and asked me if I was a marketing consultant. That is the power of a well-designed cover! The colours were carried on, past the book, and I thought it worked so well it flowed into website images too.
Anyway, a book theme and ‘hook’ is all part of the brand too. A series look, feel, and message–part of the book brand. Author website–your personal brand. SO THINK IT THROUGH!
We can also express our personal brand on social media. I subscribe to Canva for Work, and this software helps create some brilliant little designs for social media. Having pre-filled designs at the right sizes saves us solopreneurs so much time. However, careful that you don’t just buy yourself a low-down job. Others can use it for you, perhaps much quicker.
Tip! You can use Canva to manage your brand if you get the paid version, because it saves your colours (HEX numbers too) and you can reuse some of the current image styles and tweak them with new images… keeping your brand look and feel.
Yet, this is harder than it sounds. Creating a consistent look and feel to start with is best left to the designers, because we novices tend to get a bit carried away with our novelty fonts and styles, don’t we? Or we go off on imagery tangents….
Another way to create a good personal brand is through amazing photography (of you and your books or products). The higher up the online influencer tree you go, the more you need to wow with bespoke photos and close-ups of the good stuff. I just got some pro photos done (of myself) and it was remarkable how much better they are than ‘shots at home, in the hallway’, where I look pallid.
In summary, you want to find out your own values, personal strengths, point of difference, and book as a brand. Then think about your current colours and design ethic, if you have one. All this makes up your personal brand.