“Frank. I’m a solopreneur. Why should I even bother defining my personal brand? Can’t I just show up and be myself?”
Sure you can.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who just happens to be naturally good at this stuff, finds communicating online easy, and attracts clients by just showing up as themselves.
I’m not one of those people.
If I just show up as myself, my content is all over the map. Confusing. A mish mash. Going off on wild tangents. Unfocussed. And generally not supporting my business in any way shape or form.
So if you’re naturally gifted at showing up with purpose and authenticity, hurrah! You can skip defining your personal brand!
But if you’re a bit more like me, then defining your personal brand will:
✅ Act as a roadmap for how you show up online
✅ Help you amplify relevant attributes to support your business
✅ Keep you focussed and inspired when you start to run out of steam
By creating content using your brand definition as a guide, you make it easier for people to categorise you mentally. That makes it easier to remember you, and that builds your personal brand.
I’ve already shared with you…
Let’s talk about that last one for a second. Your values. These are what are important to you in your business. They can be aspirational, even inspirational.
When we defined your values we looked at putting them in “I will…” statements.
So one of my values is “untroubled”. I will help you feel untroubled in your business.
Your strengths, on the other hand, are more practical and immediate. They are what you’re good at right now. Your strengths are “I am…” statements. Your strengths are undeniable and clear. Your strengths are not future tense, they are present tense.
My top three strengths are that I am:
Recently I was referred to as a “welcoming, playful, practical, profitable troubleshooting, digital strategist” by Susan Sneath, co-host of The Change Zone.
Notice the correlation between my defined strengths and Susan’s description of me?
🟢 Welcoming 👉 same sphere as supportive
🟢 Playful 👉 same sphere as fun
🟢 Practical, profitable troubleshooting 👉 same sphere as strategic
Susan knows me primarily through my content and interactions on LinkedIn. And she has picked up on my strengths, categorised me this way, and remembered me for these things. I’ve become memorable for my strengths.
So let’s talk about how to define your strengths.
Coz I bet if asked you right now, face to face, “what are you good at”, you’d freeze like a rabbit in the headlights, panic, start questioning whether you’re good at anything at all, and feel like you’re standing at the edge of an existential crisis.
Ok, maybe it’s only me that reacts quite that dramatically, but I know a lot of people struggle to identify their strengths, so let’s put a simple process in place.
Start with the aforementioned existential crisis
First, grab a pen and paper and write down what you think your strengths are. Write for longer than you’re comfortable with. When you think you’re done, keep going. Go on. Push yourself. Stare into that abyss 😂
Now, pop your list into a single column in a spreadsheet (so you can easily move things around and reorder later).
Test yourself (it’s ok, you can’t fail)
Next head over to high5test.com, take their test, and add the results to your list.
You’re not done yet. I also recommend doing the 16 Personalities test. The 16 Personalities test won’t give you a list of strengths, but you can read through the report and jot down anything that resonates with you as a strength as you read about your personality type.
Add those to your list as well.
Ask people who already know the answer
Gather some voice-of-customer data, this will give you an idea of what your personal brand looks like right now.
Email past clients or colleagues. If your business is brand spanking new, then you can always simply ask friends. But if you have past clients, they will give you the most valuable data.
Email them and explain you’re doing some work on your branding, and ask them this simple question:
“If you were recommending me to someone, what would you tell them I was really good at? And why?”
I know this can feel weird. I guess it feels very exposing. And maybe feels a bit like we’re fishing for compliments. What I’ve done in the past, to mitigate this, is create a Google Form, with no other data collected, so I can explain that it’s completely anonymous.
Once again, add the strengths that come back to your spreadsheet.
Check for d-d-d-duplicates
Now you can start to order the list. You should now have a long list of strengths in a single column in a spreadsheet.
The first step is to put the column in alphabetical order.
Because you have data from various sources, certain strengths could be listed multiple times. Leave the duplicates in for now and check for any similar strengths that could be combined. For example you might see that “practical” shows up three times and “pragmatic” shows up once. So maybe you decide to change that pragmatic to practical as well.
Now you can move any strengths with multiple entries to the top of the list, and delete the duplicates.
Put order on the chaos
It’s now time to put the list in order – according to how you want to define your brand.
Start broad. Anything high up on the list that you don’t feel is vital to your brand, move it down – bearing in mind that the strengths at the top have come up multiple times. Move them down if you want to, but just be aware that there is a high chance they are highly relevant.
Anything low down on the list that you feel you want to be a core strength, move it up.
The magnificent seven
When you feel like there’s nothing in the top half of the list that shouldn’t be there, you can start to focus on the top seven.
From here, it’s very similar to what we did with your values – make sure the top seven are highly relevant, and in order of importance.
When you’re happy, look at the top three.
If you had to define your strengths by your top three – would you be happy?
That’s when you’re done.
Keep the top seven in mind, and put them in your branding documents – but the top three are the ones you should really be focussing on.
The top three are the ones that over time people should start repeating back to you.
I am strategic, supportive, and fun.
And people tell me so.
By defining my strengths, and amplifying them as relevant attributes, I have become memorable for these three things.
So… what three strengths should you be amplifying in your content?