In this day and age, many prominent entrepreneurs and content creators have become well-known for crafting identities outside of their professional endeavors. In doing so, these individuals can use their social platforms and presence to paint a holistic picture of who they are, what they do, AND what they value outside of work. As compelling as it sounds, striking this balance can be difficult, but many business leaders are carving out lucrative opportunities outside of their business as they build a "personal" brand. Today's article will share a few examples of those doing this well, along with tips on how to plan and create content around both.
In a nutshell, a personal brand is often born out of a well-known brand or career. While personal brands stem from larger missions, businesses, or stories, an individual can build upon their brand by injecting an air of identity and authenticity into their social media channels and the conversations they want to have. In other words, users can have the opportunity to truly engage or identify with a personal brand more than they might with a traditional goods or services brand. So when developing your own personal brand consider the following: 1) Who are you both personally and professionally and what do you want to say or offer to your audience? 2) What platform is the best vehicle to authentically connect with your audience? and 3) What are a few distinctive elements that you want to be known for when building your brand on social media? (i.e., a particular color palette, tone of voice, etc.). If you're still in need of some inspiration, below are a few examples of those who have managed to cultivate successful personal brands in a variety of ways.
With the above points in mind, this section will outline a few notable women who are leading the charge when it comes to personal branding. For starters, Sophia Amoruso (@sophiaamoruso) founder of Nasty Gal, and most recently, Girlboss. Sophia's unconventional path to social media stardom derived from her inspiring (and raw) accounts of building Nasty Gal. This led to the recounting of Sophia's experiences as a first-time founder in her debut memoir and career book #Girlboss. From there, Girlboss became synonymous with Sophia who was able to translate the term from a book title to a hashtag to a movement, event series, and now a fully-fledged media company. Keeping this in mind, and looking at Sophia's Instagram, it's clear Sophia embodies the Girlboss spirit and uses her personal platforms as a way to market her products and company, as well as join the conversation she first began. Sophia is a prime example of the incredible things that can happen when you embrace the PERSONAL in personal brand. Our next example is Diane Guerrero (@dianeguerrero_) a rising actress and activist. You may have first heard of Diane in her role as the loveable Maritza Ramos in the hit Netflix show Orange Is the New Black. Since the show's launch, Diane has gone on to star in other shows and projects AND has published her debut memoir entitled In the Country We Love. The book recounts Diane's experiences as a teenager after losing her parents who were detained and deported. Looking at Diane's social media accounts, it's clear that the themes around community, immigration, and the current political climate translate beyond the pages as Diane uses her (social) platform to start conversations and engage around these topics. The author/actress has built a personal brand that is as accessible, actionable, and real as the dynamic characters Diane plays while on-screen.
Our third and final example is renowned dancer Misty Copeland (@mistyonpointe), a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. While it's easy to assume what a performer's (and specifically a ballerina's) personal brand may look like or promote, Misty's personal brand stems from courage, strength, and artful storytelling. As the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer (the highest ranking in a ballet company), she has been able to speak to her professional success and personal story through other channels outside of ABT. These include her memoir Life in Motion: An Unlikely Story, her partnership with Under Armour, and many more endeavors across different industries. More to the point, the content posted on Misty's Instagram demonstrates her ability build a personal brand alongside her success as a professional dancer, while still relating back to her overarching love for ballet.
On a closing note, it's important to understand that timing is everything. While the women featured in this article prove that personal and professional values can often be intertwined, they are savvy when it comes to promoting certain ideas or content at particular times - especially given the current global social climate. If you're unsure about how to begin, be sure to revisit our "Planning with the World in Mind" article for some basics on how to tell your story while still being considerate of current affairs. It is also important to consider the "why" when it comes to planning content you want to post: Does this take priority? Will it represent my personal brand and values down the road? How will it enhance both my personal and professional endeavors? Posing these questions will help eliminate "fluff" content and streamline your overarching content strategy and big-picture story.