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  • Writer's pictureErin Ratliff

YOU are your Niche: How to Craft An Authentic & Aligned Personal Brand




"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."

Joseph Campbell


Whether you like it or not, and whether you believe it or not -- you have a personal brand.


Personal branding is the process of creating a specific identity and reputation for yourself.

Today, this is just as important as building your sales funnel in attracting, nurturing, connecting with and converting customers.


Personal branding is not a new marketing concept- it has been around for a while. Consider the likes of Elon Musk, Richard Branson, or Oprah Winfrey - they're not just entrepreneurs; they are brands in their own right. They sell products and services, but more than anything else, they sell themselves. And the success of their ventures is tied to their brand.


If you're inactive online, you're passively letting the internet create your brand for you. Personally, I’d rather be in the driver’s seat. In this post I'll share how to take control of your brand and use it to your advantage to build the life and career you want.


What is Your Brand?

Branding is a set of consistent standards that sets a company, or person, apart and leaves a lasting impression on its audience. A brand is the gut feeling people have about you, your business, and your product.


Everyone has a brand. Most were just created on accident and aren't the right brands for what they are selling.


Many marketers don't understand branding, assuming its simply about visuals. And while much of it is, there is also huge part that is less tangible. Together these create a cohesive and memorable entity, fostering trust and loyalty among consumers while contributing significantly to a business's overall success and market positioning.


Many believe that branding is theoretical while in fact it's deeply rooted in psychology and thus can have a measurable impact on revenue!


  • Brand recognition → crucial for positioning

  • Emotional engagement → crucial for sales

  • Trust and credibility → crucial for closing

  • Perceived quality → crucial for pricing



"Society says it needs to look perfect. Soul says it needs to be authentic."

Matt Gottesman



Why is a Personal Brand so valuable?

By focusing on building a personal brand, you're investing in a lasting asset. You're developing something that transcends a single product, service, or company, creating a narrative that's uniquely yours.


By carefully curating and creating a personal brand you are:


  • Creating a positive and professional image in the digital world

  • Opening yourself up to new connections and opportunities

  • Positioning yourself as a leader or innovator in your field

  • Showcasing yourself to potential new clients and customers


The resume is a thing of the past. Your BRAND is the new way to get jobs, network, make money and solve the problems of the world that you're passionate about.


Social media is now a medium to career growth, depicting an aggregate of your

  • roles

  • recognition

  • portfolio

  • perspectives

  • performance


Your online brand can showcase everything you want a prospective employer to know about you, but only if you let it.


"Personal Branding becomes so much easier when you realize it's just being yourself and talking about the things youre passionate about"

Daniel Murray



The Psychology of Branding

When people are considering a brand, a strong cognitive process happens:


1. People prefer and trust repeated information

A brand becomes "top of mind" when its name is tied to a specific concept. See the concept? Think about the brand. See the brand? Think about the concept. A brand can achieve this through repeating the same information.


2. People trust more brands with industry authority

A brand will be perceived as more accurate, credible, and legitimate if it has a strong industry authority. People will subconsciously take into consideration the followers, successes, news, reputation when reviewing a brand. 


3. Their perception of the brand influence the perception of the product

When people trust an authority figure, they will naturally think their product is good. It's a cognitive shortcut that transfers trust from the brand to the product itself.


“Personal branding is about managing your name, even if you don’t own a business, in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records.”

Tim Ferriss


Components of A Strong & Marketable Brand


The 4 Pillars


Purpose: Establishing a unique identity driven by purpose is crucial for building a powerful personal brand. Purpose acts as a guiding force, helping individuals set clear goals, intentions, and values. By understanding why they pursue certain endeavors, individuals can make decisions that align with their values and aspirations, ultimately leading to personal and professional growth.


Perception: Managing one's reputation and image is essential in today's world where public perception greatly influences opportunities and success. Taking an honest look at oneself, both professionally and personally, allows individuals to identify areas for improvement and project a positive image. Active management of online presence, including social media, ensures that all content reflects positively and contributes to a favorable public perception.


Personality: Making connections and building relationships are fundamental skills for personal and professional success. Active listening, genuine interest, and respect are key components of meaningful connections. By valuing and respecting others' thoughts and opinions, individuals can foster trusting relationships that contribute to personal growth and self-confidence.


Presence: Establishing a strong digital presence across multiple platforms is vital for reaching and engaging with target audiences. Utilizing social media, newsletters, SEO optimization, and quality content creation allows individuals and businesses to connect with their audience, showcase products/services, and build a sense of community. Curating quality content that resonates with the audience is essential for effective engagement and building brand recognition.


Practicing and mastering the additional steps below will help you develop a powerful and impactful image. Creating a successful personal brand requires ongoing effort and attention to each of these. When these elements are all working together you've got a personal brand that will stand out in the crowded online landscape.


The 5 C's

  • Clarity emphasizes the importance of ensuring that your personal branding elements are easily recognizable and identifiable.

  • Consistency involves maintaining a unified message, design, and style across all branding materials to create cohesiveness.

  • Content creation plays a crucial role in showcasing your value and personality, with various formats such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media updates.

  • Connection focuses on building relationships and trust with your audience through engagement, conversations, and genuine interaction.

  • Confidence is essential for believing in yourself and your brand, which in turn encourages others to align with your message and values.



The 5 A's

  • Awareness involves getting your name out there through various channels like websites, blogs, podcasts, and social media networks.

  • Authority is built by providing valuable content, expertise, and advice in your niche or industry, establishing credibility and trust.

  • Authenticity entails being genuine and true to yourself, reflecting your values and viewpoint in your content to connect with the right audience.

  • Appearance refers to how people perceive you and your brand, including your personal style, communication style, and overall presentation.

  • Audience involves understanding your audience's needs and preferences to create tailored content that resonates with them and keeps them engaged.


"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

Ralph Waldo Emerson


How to Develop & Define Your Personal Brand

Building an authentic personal brand requires strategy, time, and CONSISTENCY: 

  • Consistent presence

  • Consistent creation

  • Consistent networking


Here are key steps to create an impactful and intentional personal brand:


1. Know Thy Self

Before you can build your brand, you need to define it. This involves introspection and understanding yourself, your values, your talents, and the unique aspects that set you apart.


Reminder: Your job doesn't define you. There are several ways to explore your identity (and your brand) beyond your career:

  • Identify your strengths and passions: When you build your personal brand around your strengths and passions, it comes across as authentic and engaging. These activities can reveal hidden talents and aspects of your personality.

  • Clarify your Core Values: Your values are the principles that guide your decisions and actions across life and work. Identifying and communicating these values can help you connect with like-minded individuals and businesses.

  • Develop a personal Mission Statement: This should succinctly convey who you are, what you do, and who you do it for. It provides a clear direction for your brand and serves as a guiding principle - what your specialty focus is and what you want to achieve.

  • Embrace Your Story & Place: Your life experiences shape you. Acknowledge your journey, the challenges you've overcome, and how they've contributed to your growth and resilience. Also pay attention to the roles you play in your relationships—be it a supportive friend, a caring family member, or an active community member. These roles reflect aspects of your identity.

  • Determine Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) This is what sets you apart from others in your field. A strong UVP communicates the unique benefits you provide, why you're qualified to provide them, and how they solve your target audience's problems.


ALIGNED ACTION: Journal on the following questions


  • What are you passionate, curious or obsessive about? What are you happy to talk about every day for months? What are you excited to research or learn more about? 

  • What do you love doing? What hobbies, interests, or causes bring you joy and fulfillment outside of work?

  • What makes me unique and different from others?

  • Why should someone choose you over your competitor?

  • What truly matters to you?

  • What are your values and principles?

  • What am I good at?

  • What do you want to be known or recognized for?

  • What does success look like to you?


2. Craft Your Story/ Control your Narrative: Build an Authentic Identity

A strong personal brand is easily recognizable. This means maintaining consistency in both your visual and verbal branding across all platforms.


Tangible

  • logo

  • typography

  • color palette/schemes

  • imagery

  • guidelines

  • tagline


Abstract

  • voice/tone

  • storytelling/messaging

  • personality

  • values

  • principles

  • unique POV

  • Unique Value Proposition


ALIGNED ACTIONS:

  • Ensure that all of your social profiles are up to date and reinforce your brand.

  • Develop a clear and concise elevator pitch that highlights how your unique skills and life experiences relate to and add value to the world, those around you and prospective customers.

  • Write your Purpose/Mission Statement: I help__(who)___ do_(what)_so that they can ___(need)___


Examples from Yours Truly:

  • "I help energy-sensitive soulpreneurs master the digital landscape so they can impact the greater good - people and planet." damselflydigital.com

  • "I help energy-sensitive souls optimize their spaces so they can thrive in health, wealth and happiness." synergeticspaces.com


3. Position Yourself as a Thought Leader

You can't build a personal brand by keeping a low profile and letting your work speak for itself. Direct self-promotion can feel uncomfortable, so there are alternative, more subtle ways to showcase and demonstrate your knowledge and provide an opportunity to share ideas and expertise at scale...


Rumour has it, personal branding is out and thought leadership is IN. Thought leadership is the strategic expression of opinions or expertise to demonstrate knowledge in a particular field, area, or topic.


Thought leaders are trusted authorities in their field. They share their expertise, ideas, and insights to educate, inspire, and engage their audience. To position yourself as a thought leader:


  • Create and share valuable content: This could be through blogging, podcasting, hosting events (webinars, workshops), public speaking, or social media.

    • Note: It’s easier to stick to the habit of consistent posting if it comes from the heart. If you genuinely enjoy the topics you talk about and it means something to you not only will you be more motivated to post and you will come across more authentic to your audience.

  • Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, answer questions, and take part in relevant discussions in your industry.

  • Stay up-to-date with industry trends: To remain relevant and credible, you need to stay informed about developments in your industry.


4. Build and Nurture Your Network

Your network is a valuable asset to your personal brand. Build and maintain relationships with other professionals in your field. Attend networking events, join boards, volunteer, joins online groups, and engage in discussions. As you grow your network, you also grow your brand's visibility and credibility.


To ensure your talents are recognized and that you have a support network in place, it's essential to build a broad network. Don't limit yourself to connections within your own industry or company. Cultivate relationships with people you meet through hobbies, neighbors, parents at your children's school, or friends of friends. This diverse network can be a valuable resource in various situations, such as job transitions or layoffs.



"Your personal brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room."

Jeff Bezos



Personal Brand Brainstorm/Worksheet

Ready to get started? Then it's time to get it all on paper!


Statistically, you’re more likely to be consistent when you know your goals up front, and if you have a clear strategy and plan in place (ie know specifically what to post.)


Definition

What is your longterm goal and WHY?


Short term Goal Setting

Year 1

Year 3

Year 5


Reflection & Assessment

Obstacles to Goals

Solutions & Steps


Top 5 Content Pillars


Content Conversion Framework

TOP of Funnel Content

  • Growth & Awareness

  • Positioning & Thought Leadership


BOTTOM of Funnel Content

  • Conversion & Monetization

  • Paid, Output


Promise

I commit to stepping out of my comfort zone by

  1. consistently posting to grow my accounts and create trust, credibility and authority

  2. consistently monitoring, tesing and improving my strategies and approaches


Review your Progress

3 months

6 months

9 months

1 year



“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Branding for Multihyphenates, Multipotentialites & Multipreneurs

How do you brand yourself when you contain MULTITUDES? When you are...

  • multi-passionate

  • multi-faceted

  • multi-dimensional

  • multi-niched


When you are trying to tell a story of a polymath or someone with many parts, there can be a struggle to figure our WHICH parts to include. You want to be authentic but without confusing or overwhelming your audience/reader.


Rather than telling your WHOLE story, aim to tell the parts of your story best serve your ideal clients.

  • What can they relate to?

  • What would they identify with?

  • What parts of your story would they see themselves in?

  • What lessons did you learn that they're on the path to learning too?



"About/Bio" Page Template

The prompts below can help you craft a compelling bio/about page and craft a more in-depth statement for use in social profiles, a brand manifesto, email campaigns, editorial coverage and more.


The best About pages are based in Connection (resonating to your audience) + Curation (editing and simplifying):


Part 1: Introduction (who you are) & Intention (the problem you solve)

  • What is your customer's primary complaint or pain point in life? ("If you're like me, you've faced...")

  • What does your customer want in their life? (“Like you, I dreamed of...” )

  • How do you want to impact your customer's lives? ("After working with me my customers will feel...")


Part 2: Your Story

Ease into a heart-felt story of your life.

  • Are there any recurring challenges or themes in your life? (“Throughout my life I have always felt /done /been /had...”)

  • What unexpected hardships or obstacles have you overcome in your life? ("After I experienced... " or "Since then...")

  • What are you proud of achieving personally? (“My biggest accomplishment to date is...” )


Part 3: You

Now is your opportunity for transparency, vulnerability or even shameless self-promotion about your mission, purpose and passions. Wear your heart on your sleeve, and go ahead and brag! Below are some of the prompts to guide you

  • What is your top professional triumph/win? ("I am proud to have...")

  • What is your greatest skill? (“When immersed in the flow of work, my superpower is...”)

  • What are your greatest truths? ("I have always believed that...")

  • What makes you really unique? (“I have a slight obsession with...”)

  • What excites you most in life? (“I am energized by...”)

  • What are your favorite pastimes, hobbies or interests? (“On the weekends you can find me...” or “My happy place is...”)

  • What are your personal key identifiers, self-proclaimations or some superdescriptive nouns that define you? ("I am a..." or "As a...")

  • What are you a creator or changemaker of? ("I help...to transform...into ... so that")

  • What are your foundational beliefs about your industry/market/niche/audience? (“I believe that...”)

  • What are your Core Values? (“I strive to live my life and operate my business with...” or "I am a big believer in...")

  • Why do you do/want to do this work? (“It’s easy to get out of bed every day because...”)

  • What epiphanies have you had in your life? ("After that I realized...")

  • What is the meaning of your company, brand or idea? What gives it purpose?

  • What legacy do you want to leave?

  • What do you want to change in the world?

  • How do you intend to accomplish your goals, solve the world's problems?

  • What are the life events or unexpected twists that led you to founding your business?

  • What does your perfect fantasy day look like?

  • When and how did the idea for your business originate, and how did it feel?

  • Why does this service/product/niche matter to you?

  • How does your customer/client matter to you?

  • How do you want to impact your client/customer and the world?

  • What was your first job?

  • What were you like as a child or teenager?

  • What did your business look like in the very beginning, compared to what it looks like now?

  • What did the "messy middle" look like?

  • How has your life changed since launching your business?

  • What personal qualities or characteristics enabled you to reach your goals and overcome adversity?

  • What interesting things have you experienced or noticed within your niche?

  • What are 5 of the most random facts about you?

  • What is your favorite part of your job?


Part 4: Ending Strong

Remind your reader that you're the best choice for their needs, also that you're glad they're here and that you are eager and willing to work with them.

  • What is your social proof?

  • What is your primary Call to Action?


Don't forget - lots of white space, text blocking, images, bold, clear and simple wording. And most importantly: PHOTOS! Professional headshots are more than just images —they're bold statements of confidence and credibility, reflecting your commitment to your personal brand and readiness to engage with the world.


A Word of Caution

Many of us have accepted and internalized the belief that if you're building a business online, you need to have a personal brand. Experts preach that you need to have a unique point of view, be "authentic," and show up consistently— in every opportunity, from the way you format your writing to the colors you wear in your selfies.


But showing up this way is inherently INAUTHENTIC. It's forced and performative.


You, as an individual, are not a brand. You are not a curated collection of colors and taglines.


You and I are PEOPLE who happen to be using the internet to share our ideas. We have individual insights, preferences, and opinions, all shaped by our unique set of experiences.

And all those things change as we continue to age and evolve. They don't stay stagnant. They don't stay consistent like a brand stays consistent.


Post-structuralist theories challenge the notion of a fixed, essential self, proposing that identity is constructed and negotiated through language and power relations. Individuals present different versions of themselves in various situations, influenced by the audience and context, leading to a fragmented identity presentation.


Personal branding is not an authentic representation of self. It's a type of STRATEGIC construction, serving social and economic goals by aligning with societal norms and expectations.


While personal branding can be a useful tool for self-expression and career advancement, it's essential to recognize its limitations and strive for authenticity and transparency.


But there's no way around it. Ultimately, we're all creating content to advertise and sell something so that we can make a living and live our lives to the fullest.


Unfortunately, the platforms and the algorithms set the rules. And if you want to play, you have to follow them and do things a certain way.


Of course, pursuing a personal brand is not inherently bad or wrong. The important reminder is to check in with yourself. QUESTION everything. Don't just mindlessly accept the idea that you must always be attracting attention as a way to commodify or monetize yourself.


Because if you take it too far, it makes your personhood the product. It forces you to stay consistent with the image you're creating. Be careful about tying your identity too closely to a set of solutions and services that you're selling.


Oftentimes, the more you can separate your business from your self, the better. It's a healthier, more sustainable and enjoyable way to build online.


For Neurodivergent Creators & Leaders

Many ND's are "intense" (spicy, colorful, deep, dramatic, energetic, enthusiastic, eccentric) feelers, expressers, creators, and ideators. This intensity and authenticity makes them perfect personalities for crafting a personal brand and being in the spotlight


That being said, Ppersonal branding can pose unique challenges for neurodivergent individuals due to potential difficulties in navigating social norms, communication differences, and sensory sensitivities. We may struggle with imposter syndrome and appropriate self-presentation, which can impact their ability to effectively communicate their strengths and skills publicly.


Masking is an adaptive social and self-preservation behavior used by many neurodivergent people to avoid the risk of judgment or stigma or conflict, and to help increase a sense of safety, acceptance and belonging. It involves concealing aspects of one's true identity, emotions, or personality to conform to societal expectations, avoid discrimination, or navigate oppressive power structures.


“Identity is an unstable and unfinished business, always in the process of becoming, and never fully fixed.”

Nikolas Rose



Wrapping it Up

In today's job market, standing out with a unique personal brand is essential but can be challenging. It can feel overwhelming or intimidating to "Stay Relevant" while still balancing authenticity with professionalism.


Discovering your brand involves introspection and self-awareness, leading you through emotional highs and lows as you identify and articulate your strengths. If you're a leader who is ingrained with humility, it's not easy to promote yourself and highlight what invaluable skills and experiences set you apart.


Finding clarity in your career path is a continuous, evolving journey. Embrace the unique facets of your identity and notice how all of these things come together like watercolors in a painting. THIS is your brand.


Yes, building your brand will feel cringey at first. It's awkward and uncomfortable and embarrassing.


But other than that, there’s really nothing to lose, as long as you can be mindful and intentional about doing what feels aligned.


Unlike a sales funnel that begins anew with each product or service, a well-crafted personal brand evolves, grows, and strengthens over time. It's an investment that can yield dividends across your entire career, opening doors to new opportunities and creating connections that stand the test of time.


In the end, it's crucial to remember that building a personal brand isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. It requires authenticity, patience, consistency, and engagement. But with these ingredients, you can build a brand that not only represents who you are but also connects with your audience on a more personal and impactful level.


So don't just build a sales funnel. Build a personal brand. Because in this era of connection and authenticity, people don't just buy products. They buy stories. They buy experiences. They buy you.


Need help honing and defining your personal brand? Let's chat.



 


Erin Ratliff is a holistic business coach and organic growth & visibility marketer serving energy-sensitive, earth-loving, heart-led soul-preneurs, self-starters, and founders with the mission of personal and planetary healing.


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