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Personal branding online is not an overnight success. Author of Life After College and career and business strategist, Jenny Blake, said it took a year of strategy with CEO and creative director of ABC Design Lab Adam Chaloeicheep before she launched her official site.
“Adam had to educate me on creating a brand. It took a year before we looked at the vanity element of font and color. He asked me [questions such as] ‘If your brand could be a texture what would it be?’” Blake said.
This creative process forced Blake to dig deeper into her offering, content and user experience.
“A brand takes time to build and it will evolve over the years so don't try and be too much right off the bat. If you dive deeply enough on your brand strategy you'll find the uniqueness you need to stand out,” Chaloeicheep said.
However, not everyone has the luxury of hiring a creative team. Setting up a simple website “is good way to launch and iterate. It doesn’t have to be perfect at first. My site is a 1,000 iterations over 10 years,” Blake said.
According to a recent Domain .ME survey conducted by Wakefield Research, “61 percent of Americans agree that a personal website could help manage their reputation online.”
Blake emphasized to differentiate yourself from the carbon copies out there and make your website a reflection of your personality and vibe.
“People are afraid to be vulnerable and feel that it might turn people off – but actually, that is what creates the most connection, vulnerability and authenticity, not the shiny perfect, by-the-book brand,” Blake said.
When you start to plan out your design and content, Blake said to look at some of your favorite websites and take note of the qualities you like.
“Don’t try to be all things to all people. I show my unique perspective to the world and portray that through my website. See what you connect with and celebrate that part of you,” Blake said.
Blake suggested to consider how you want people to feel when they come to and leave your site.
“I designed my site to be relatable, inspirational, and practical. A lot of the language on my site is welcoming. I wanted people to feel that I’m approachable and we could be having coffee,” Blake said.
Tony Felice, cofounder of FELICE+WHITNEY PR, said that regardless of the size of company, building a brand includes showing one’s human side.
“We emphasize to clients that no matter the size of the business, the human scale is important. Showing ways that their core values are shared across an organization, how their corporate responsibility drives their vision and who the people are behind the brand is what people what from those they do business with,” Felice said.
Your Brand Is Not All About You
Some might think the first objective of building their online reputation is to tout their gold star stickers. Felice said that, instead, people need to start providing value to their audience, and not to use their website to solely flaunt one’s accomplishments.
“It's all about the consumer (visitor) to the website. No one cares about how great you are, and lot's of company's spend a lot of time telling people how great they are,” Felice said.
Felice suggests to start working backwards from what the customer needs from your website to arrive at your message.
“There are three things on a person's mind when they visit your website, in this order: ‘Why should I care, why should I believe you, what do you do?’ You'll notice that what you do is [last]. Connecting with the visitor, from their perspective is important. Work backwards from that perspective to arrive at yours,” Felice said.
For business owners who are selling a product, Kate Crowley, founder of Crowley Communications, said to make sure the web design matches the price point of your product or service.
“A colorful busy website is fine for $25 products, but doesn’t work for couture clothing,” Crowley said. “[Also,] make it easy for people to research the brand and provide a contact for the person(s) behind the brand.”
No Jekyll & Hyde
As you begin to deliver content and share your perspective, experts agree that being consistent in your messaging, images and conversations across all social platforms and website is key to success.
“Be mindful of your behavior on social media. If there is a disconnect between your brand and how you behave on social media, people pick up on it,” Felice said.