If you cringe a tiny bit when you hear the phrase “personal brand,” I hear ya — it’s a buzzword that can feel a bit phony, especially when tossed around the social media-sphere the way it often is lately. But when you get to the root of what a personal brand really is (don’t worry, we’ll get there), it’s a topic that I’m super passionate about and have been asked to speak on at a couple different conferences lately. The topic has resonated so much with audiences from all different backgrounds that I thought it would be fun to have the discussion here and share some of what I presented, plus open up the conversation to hopefully your thoughts on personal branding, as well as your stories, questions, and challenges. My ever-evolving job has opened up life-changing opportunities for which I’m incredibly grateful: to write a book, travel the country, and connect with all of you daily. No matter what industry you’re in (business owner or job applicant, student or stay-at-home mom) I’m convinced that big opportunities happen when you build an authentic brand. Keep reading for more on discovering your personal brand, articulating your vision statement, then communicating that message to the world.

1- A personal brand, defined.

The phrase “personal brand” can sound shallow and sales-y when taken out of context, so let’s start with my unofficial definition. A personal brand is how we show the world who we are and what makes us unique. It’s how people recognize us, and how people remember us. Everything we put out there, from the way we dress to the way we speak to what we post on our Instagram feed is a building block that defines our brand. If you’re on social media or have any kind of audience, you already have a personal brand. So the real question becomes: are you going to take the time and effort to guide and cultivate what your brand becomes?

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2- Discover your brand.

Here’s what’s really cool about your personal brand: No one else in the entire world is just like you, and that sets your brand apart – it’s valuable! That’s what makes it so important for us to build a brand that truly reflects our authentic selves – It’s what will make our careers fun and satisfying, and also positions us for our greatest success.

My biggest wish for all of you is that you’re able to spend your days doing what you love, so take some time to identify your personal passions. Dig deep and lay claim to your unique strengths and abilities — and yes, you absolutely have them. If you’re not sure, think back to what you used to love as a kid, those activities you could spend hours on and you were so in the zone that time flew by. Chances are, these types of memories will give you a hint at some of your passions — and it may be time to reconnect with them.

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3- Articulate your brand statement by writing it down.

This is a similar exercise to writing a vision statement, and once you’ve done it, you can start to be more strategic in the messaging, both subtle and non-subtle, you’re putting out there. This statement can be long or short, it can be written simply as a list of descriptors (cheerful, wise, funny), or it can be written as more of a mission statement that shows what you’re all about.

Don’t stress out too much about this because one of the great things about a brand statement is that it can continue to evolve forever. Last week we shared our new vision for the site that reveals how we’ve grown and some of our dreams for the future. If I’m ever unsure if a story or subject matter is on-brand for us, I can hold it up against that statement and know whether it’s a fit or not. You can use your personal brand statement as a similar tool to gauge whether a decision is authentic to who you really are.

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4- Deliver the message.

Now that you’ve articulated your brand, it’s time to tell it to the world. First, remember that people connect with people. Reveal your personality and make sure your audience knows who you are and what you stand for. And remember that a personal brand is just a façade if it’s not backed up by good work. The hard work and good decision-making that we make day in and day out is what lays the foundation for how others ultimately see us.

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5- Tell your story.

When it comes to a personal brand, YOU are the content. Practice telling your story in a compelling and creative way. A strong personal brand starts with a strong narrative that establishes a connection with your audience and helps them remember you.

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6- You need a website.

Everyone interested in building a personal brand should have a personal website that communicates what makes your brand great. Even if it’s really simple (your resume, brief bio, link to your social handles) it will help rank your name on search engines and give people a strong first impression. This goes without saying, but visual elements are key. Check for consistency in fonts, colors, logo, headshot — if you need to, find a graphic designer to help you make it look awesome. There are tons of different website builders out there, but I personally use and love SpaceCraft. Full disclosure: my husband works there, but even if he didn’t, I’d still be a huge fan of the beautiful templates, easy-to-use software (no coding!), affordability, and the fact that sites are all optimized for mobile.

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7- Make social media your most powerful tool.

The good news is that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the other networks out there have leveled the playing field and paved the way for us “normal” girls to build a personal brand that was once only possible if you were one of the big guys (i.e., a huge company.) The bad news is that it’s also really easy to mindlessly put crap out there that isn’t at all in line with the personal brand that we really want to convey to the world. So while it’s important to be yourself on social media, it’s also wise to think about your audience before pressing that “post” button. Besides using your own common sense, check for the following things:

Headshot: is it conveying the message you want to send?

Consistency: the messaging and the aesthetics should feel consistent across social platforms, and reflect other key elements of your brand like your website and business cards.

Authenticity: Overall, does your feed feel like a reflection of you?

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8- Don’t forget to dream.

If you’re at the beginning of a new journey — whether you’re a blogger, entrepreneur, employee, job applicant, or hobbyist — all of this can seem daunting. Just remember, it’s really just about taking one small step at a time. If your daily habits are getting you a tiny bit closer to your goal, before you know it, you’ll have built something truly great. A personal brand evolves and grows with you, so experiment, have fun with it, and let it be a long-term process that ultimately helps you get to know yourself better.

Now it’s your turn! How many of y’all have spent time writing down your personal brand or mission statement? Do any brave souls want to share theirs in the comments? What are some of the challenges you encountered when defining your personal brand? We’d love to hear from you!

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  1. 1
    A Capitol Contessa | January 13, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Camille – this is so incredibly helpful. I have been thinking about this as well as a newish blogger and someone who lives in a very “brand” conscious city (Washington). Trying to merge my professional and personal lives into one brand while also not exposing too much (I fear the look at me look at me syndrome) has been hard but definitely a worthwhile enterprise. I love the idea of writing down what I want to project and to not be afraid to modify it as life intervenes. Thanks a million for giving me the nudge I need to be a little more forward leaning with myself, particularly on the blog which I avoid studiously. An inspiration for sure.

    • Camille Styles | January 13, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      Amazing — so many great insights here! I’m so glad that the post was helpful with where you currently are in your blogging journey, and I can’t wait to check out your blog! 🙂

  2. 2
    Ankit Agarwal | January 13, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Camille I am thankful to you for this article. While I completely agree with all the points you have mentioned here, I couldn’t agree to what you written in point 7. “Normal girls”?? did you not expect men to come and read your blog ( Just kidding)
    On a serious note though. “Patience” is of utmost importance. I have seen many fall before they could rise just because the people got tired of waiting for take off.
    Thanks again for this article. sitting at my day job right now, it just gave me another lease of life in my personal brnading journey.

    • Camille Styles | January 14, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Hi Ankit! First — I am so happy that there is a guy reading the blog!! Thanks for calling me out on that. 🙂 And also thank you for these wise words. Couldn’t agree with you more — most of the best brands and companies have been built on countless hours of tireless work that didn’t promise to be successful, but ultimately that vision that kept it going was the vision that made it great. Best of luck in your journey!

  3. 3
    Ainee Beland | January 14, 2016 at 9:08 am

    I am seen as someone who is damage with lots of hurtful qualities; I don’t seem to care if this is what I send out. I am online for several years now since not employed and such I try to stay active and to partake of the world as afforded me. I am blogger who tries and is not very good. I submit post after posts on things that I attend or seen while out for a walk; yet somehow at times it feels not enough; always that imagine voice saying what did you do today; we don’t see a post from you. Being a blogger is exhaustive and submitting them daily or few times a week is truly amazing for one person to do and yet the world has no idea what you do and the amount of time that goes into what is sent out through social media.
    We are all vying for attention; be it for employment, relationship, hobby as I am told mine is. So there are those who are hurtful like spying and helping a person like myself to negate all the more.
    I am happy to have spent time and viewed some lovely work out there and to follow when I can; too much to read and keep of at times. Also, I seem to be all over the place and not know what I want; again my fault.
    Thank you for sharing your space/ideas with the world.

  4. 4
    Robert M. Donnelly | January 14, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Anyone who needs help developing their personal brand should get: Personal Brand Planning for life, available on Amazon.

  5. 5
    Amanda | January 15, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Camille, What a fantastic topic! I pop in every once in a while to get inspiration for healthy living but branding/marketing is a huge passion of mine as well. I’m a serial entrepreneur and local to Austin and love seeing other women soar! With the advent of blogs and social media, I have seen a huge trend toward personal branding but there is also another side that I think it really important to mention and plan for as well, especially for women whom want to be able to change course down the road as life evolves. As a multi-business owner and a business advisor, this is the topic that I see cross my desk often.

    Here is food for thought for those creating a personal brand. What happens when you want to sell your business/brand? Businesses/Brands have built in asset value and as one plans their personal branding, it is really important to make sure to take steps that will allow for an acquisition should the owner choose to pursue another opportunity. I recently had a friend come to me whom developed a very successful personal brand and she has a fantastic successful business but she IS the brand. Her business is a valuable asset but she has to take a year or so to put systems in place so that the business can continue to be successful without her. I gave her steps to take so she can then sell when the business is ready. Being the brand is so important as you mentioned, especially in making those connections with readers or customers but also planning an exit and how to make that transition is equally important because even the most passionate business owners still face burn out.

    Happy Weekend! Also, I am very excited about your focus on living healthy but beautifully! It resonates with how many of us strive to live every day!

    • Michelle | September 10, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      I know this thread is from a long time ago, but what you said definitely resonates with me. I had a blog that I didn’t make just about me and I was able to sell it a few years ago. But now with the trend to make websites all about our personal and professional lives rolled into one, I’ve often wondered what happens when I want to sell. I’ve started creating two new business ventures and both have me at the center. In the back of my mind I’m asking, “How can I sell these in the future?” Obviously, it can be done. Bobbi Brown is a perfect example. But I don’t know how a small business owner, like me, would make it work.

  6. 6
    Kate | January 16, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Fantastic post, Camille! You’re certainly a personal branding superstar, so I appreciate you sharing these tips.

    Question – how do you manage “split personality” personal branding? Or, how can I balance my “day job” personal branding with my “dream life” personal branding? So far I’ve built my ten-year career around business development in the real estate industry, which is a pretty no nonsense field. However, my true passion – and what I’d really love to do full time – is art and illustration. I would love to take advantage of all my contacts to build up my artistic career, but I still have my suit-and-heels day job to consider. Any advice?

    • Camille Styles | January 17, 2016 at 7:40 am

      Hi Kate! Thanks for the kind words, and so awesome that you’re considering pursuing an artistic career that you’re passionate about! I totally get this pull between the realities of a “day job” (financial security) and doing what you love — I have so many friends who have been through this struggle, or are still going through it today. I actually think that social media can be an amazing tool for you to start spreading the word about these other abilities that people in your network may not know you have. I would start sharing your work on Facebook and Instagram — or maybe if Facebook is extremely important for your real estate work, you devote your Instagram account to your art, and periodically you share some of your Instagrams on Fb so that all of your contacts there can start to become aware of your art. It’s amazing what huge networks many of us have built organically, and most of us don’t even realize how many people are actually in our circle of influence. This creates an amazing launching pad for building a new business. Best of luck and please let us know how things progress — I’d love to see your illustrations!! xoxo

  7. 7
    Kate | January 20, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Very sound advice, Camille, and thanks for taking the time to respond. I love your idea of dedicating my Instagram account to art and putting out little teasers on my other social media networks. It sounds like a great way to balance my professional/personal “brands” while taking advantage of all those contacts. And you’re right, sometimes it’s amazing to see how wide our reach can be.

    I suppose this means I have another New Years resolution on my list! Happy to share my illustrations when I’m up and running….so far I just have a few sketches posted haphazardly to my Instagram account (below).

    Thanks again and keep up the wonderful work!

  8. 8
    Nansera | September 16, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Thank you so much for this article. I have just building my brand and there is so much I have been leaving out. So grateful:) Nansera.com is my site, feel free to check it out, it’s still being baked and now I know what to add on my vision board.

  9. 9
    Pamela McDonald | September 18, 2016 at 9:37 am

    What paint colour did you use on your walls?

  10. 10
    Hannah Chambers | September 19, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Love, this – thank you! As you said, it is very important to be authentic, and consistent. To be you. And consistent.

    Branding/marketing has recently become a huge personal (and professional) passion of mine, and I loved the way you addressed the topic. Time now to re-hone the message I want to be sending out. Time to delete a lot of the “randomness”.

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