Everyone has a personal brand, and online platforms bring them to the forefront like never before—from Chrissy Teigen’s cheeky Tweets to Rohit giving up fizzy drink on TikTok to Intern Alex’s Instagram (It’s me!).
If you’re an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a thought leader, a podcaster, a blogger, a foodie, or using your online presence to chase another goal, your identity and expertise are part of what make your product or service special. And a strong personal branding strategy can make all the difference.
A personal brand includes a combination of things: your real life, your product or service, your values, mission, network, expertise, and more. Those aspects can all be valuable to your personal brand and the pursuit of your goals. You just have to find the right places to communicate them. Social media is a great place to start.
What makes or breaks any social media presence? The photos. The videos. The graphics. Basically, visuals. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time interning at Lemonly, it’s the power of visuals.
Each Lemonhead has their own superpower. I’m still figuring mine out, but I’d say personal branding strategy is a top contender. As I’ve learned more about both personal branding and visual storytelling as a Slice intern, it’s been fun to explore how Lemonly’s expertise can really enhance a personal brand. So, I’m sharing those insights with you.
Alright. Let’s get to the tips.
Remember the 80/20 rule
This is the most important piece of information I can provide. The best personal brands live by the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, you should be giving or adding value to your audience.
- Educating about your field of expertise
- Informing about things you feel they should know
- Inspiring or Entertaining
- Sharing your authentic self & personality
This content builds credibility, understanding, trust, and even friendship between a personal brand and the audience.
The other 20% of the time, you have the opportunity to “take” or sell to your audience: product sales, service bookings, interaction, engagement, clicks, etc.
When you’ve provided value 80% of the time, your audience has loyalty to you, your brand, and your expertise. The 20% feels like an authentic ask after all that you’ve already provided. The audience is more willing to participate in a sales interaction because you’ve already held up your end of the bargain. Think of this as a soft sell.
No “Hey girl! Have you heard of this product I’m selling?” messages or impersonal email blasts here. Your audience already trusts you and wants to invest in you and what you’re selling.
With the 80/20 rule, you have to find ways to strategically balance your content between adding value, sharing authentically, selling your products/services, and all the things that come between for a personal brand. You also need to catch their attention—but we’ve covered that before.
Put visuals to work for you
Show your face—but not too much
You (and your face) are the heart of your brand. Your imagery and videos should and will be continuously populated by you. But even your lovely mug can get a little old if it’s all your audience sees. Varied content is important to avoid monotony. Relevant graphics and visuals help diversify and break up your content stream.
Consistency is key
The importance of brand recognition still applies to personal brands. We’re all on a mission to slow the scroll. Being recognized at a glance through your visual strategy can help with that. When you have a visual strategy and clear visual guidelines, cohesion and consistency are easy. Colors, fonts, and logos allow your audience to easily recognize your visual content and your brand just as easily as they would your face.
My recommendations? Find colors that feel right to you and your audience and create a palette. Pick a few words that align with the creative feel of your brand. Grab some examples from Pinterest or other areas of the web. Make a personal moodboard. Remember, you know your brand (or what it will become) better than anyone!
Brand recognition and a consistent visual strategy applies to more than your social media feed. Think of the ways graphics could improve these elements, too:
- Website and landing pages
- Slide decks for presentations
- YouTube channel art, thumbnails
- Print pieces—business cards, brochures, menus
- Social media Stories, Highlights (see below), and pinned content
Be your own backup
If you can back up what you’re saying or selling with data, you should. If you can visualize that data in a beautiful and clear way, even better. You’ll gain credibility with your audience (ethos, if you want to use the terminology I teach my students as a speech instructor) through the diligence and dedication you show to your craft through good data and research.
Imagine: You’re a trusted book reviewer who advocates for reading for fun. Pique your audience’s interest with some relatable, relevant data visualization like this.
Keep up with the algorithms (and optimize for shareability)
As social media continues to evolve, the algorithms that power each platform shift, too.
For example, Instagram’s algorithm is changing: The algorithm will continue to value content that is shared (to friends’ or viewers’ own stories) or saved more than content with a greater number of likes. Likes are being phased out, and posts that are shared and saved are typically broad, value-adding content that falls within that critical 80% we discussed above.
Knowing how social media platforms and their algorithms are changing can and should impact your visual content and your personal branding strategy.
Stories hold power, too
This time, I’m not just talking about sharing your personal journey and amusing anecdotes—I’m talking about the story features of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn (?!?), and other platforms that allow users to share ephemeral, short-form content.
Stories often achieve high engagement and are sorted chronologically—different from the main feed that is curated by the algorithm and increasingly contains more content recommendations beyond strictly who you’re following.
On Instagram, stories can be saved as highlights featured on your profile. Branded stories and story highlights are growing opportunities for personal brands to share content. Branding these pieces of content with your signature visual identity (your colors, logo, or name, for instance) makes sure they’re tied back to you as the source, no matter where they’re shared or reposted.
If you’re hoping to grow your personal brand, make sure you know the role visuals have in your unique brand and work to create a cohesive strategy for including them.
Need a hand figuring out your visual content strategy? Just ask Lemonly!