6 min read Hey good looking, what you got cooking?

Focus on your selfie – it’s the number 1 most important thing when you’re establishing your personal brand

Your personal brand is every bit as important as your business's brand! Even if you don't put yourself out in front and center of your business, you can't hide away completely. With small businesses, customers want to know who they're dealing with before they'll buy from you. A minimal personal brand inspires confidence and presents you as an authority.

Have you got a selfie stick?

Personally, I could not imagine standing in public, holding a smartphone out in front of myself on a stick. I might just as well shout at everyone in earshot that I’m taking a photo of myself.

“Because I’M GORGEOUS!”

Perhaps it’s just that I’m a bit of a self-conscious soul. In the part of Spain where we live, there was no such thing as self-consciousness before I arrived.

If there’s something going on, people gather around it staring fixedly. On summer evenings, families drag three piece suites out of their front door and onto the street so they can see what’s going on in comfort.

I’m not making it up. They really do this!

I on the other hand am a bit different. If I hear a commotion on the street, I dress head to toe in black, don a ninja balaclava and peep through a tiny gap in the shutters. If that doesn’t work, out comes the periscope.

A bit of a self-conscious shrinking violet really and even without a stick, you’ll be unlikely to find me shooting a selfie.

Thinking back I think I’ve only ever taken three selfies with my smartphone. Well, four actually if we count that time I checked my hemorrhoids.

Which, arguably, leads me to the real reason we’re both here.

Your personal brand

Have you ever stopped to think about your personal brand? Everyone tells you to build a strong brand for your business, but often the person behind the business is overlooked.

In some cases, you may be your brand. You may operate under your own name and be at the forefront of your business activities. That makes things very straight forward.

If you have separated your business brand from yourself, you may question why your personal brand matters. All the more so if you’ve deliberately set out to not be highly visible.

However, you probably can’t hide yourself completely in the shadows. Prospective customers want to know a bit about who’s behind the business before buying. It gives them the confidence to purchase. If you try too hard to hide yourself, it may even look suspicious and put customers off.

So if we accept that you do at least have to have a minimal presence in your business, it becomes easier to understand why your personal brand is important.

It helps to present you as an authority in your field and inspires confidence in those who deal with you. If you download your free copy of The Personal Brand Plan, you’ll find we cover it in a bit more depth than in this article.

Keeping it minimal

If you’ve spent any time trying to formulate the perfect brand for your business, your personal brand may be filling you with dread.

Don’t worry, we can keep this super minimal and super easy. The thing we’re most concerned with is brand recognition. Essentially, you recognition!

Quite simply, it’s all about your personal photo. The photo you use on the various different platforms you engage on on a personal basis. Your selfie, basically. See there was a reason for me going off on a selfie tangent earlier.

Your photo is the single most important thing to get right when considering your personal brand. Even if people don’t read what you and others are saying, they will notice your photo.

I have on occasion read advice that you should use a different photo on each different platform that you engage on. The thought process being that each photo can be chosen on the basis that it will resonate most effectively with the users of each platform. On LinkedIn, you’re in a business suit, while Twitter has you in a t-shirt perhaps.

Now this may be a feasible approach for those who already have large followings. Leaders who are actively sought out for their views and wisdom. For these authorities in their fields, they are well enough known to be recognizable by many even if they use a mix of photos.

It’s not such a clever option for the rest of us. It would be like using a different logo for your business depending on where you were marketing. That would be crazy!

Be consistent

Sure, we may have a logotype and a logomark, and yes we should have logo versions for use on light and dark backgrounds. As well as color versions for screen and print and black and white usage. However, each one will be instantly identifiable as your business’s logo.

Selfies are different though. We don’t always look the same. We may look surprisingly different in two photos taken on separate occasions. I just have to consider my wedding photo and any photo that shows me smiling to know how different I can look.

Multiple different appearances are hardly going to help with personal brand recognition.

You could add a comprehensive and hugely popular answer on Quora, for example, but because you look a bit different in your profile photo, readers may not recognize you as the person behind your business.

The result? You don’t gain the positive boost to your personal authority. In turn your business doesn’t benefit from its association with you.

For that simple reason, I can’t recommend strongly enough that you use the same personal photo on each platform you’re active on. At least when you’re starting out. When you can command four or five figure sums for speaking engagements, feel free to cast this advice aside.

Split personalities?

That covers what I intended to cover with regard to your minimal personal brand, but let’s quickly consider your personal brand personality. After all, your photo isn’t going to appear without you writing something first.

Considering this, you have the opportunity to create a new persona for your personal brand.

You may choose to be a more extrovert version of yourself. A larger than life, exaggerated you that will stand out in a sea of online voices.

I’m not saying you should, but you could.

For instance, reading this you may see that I’m projecting the persona of a bit of a tit.

In reality, I have enough difficulty just maintaining a single personality. There’s no way I could nurture a second one.

Still it may suit you to develop a persona specifically for your personal brand. Only you can make that decision and there’s certainly no right or wrong.

Put it into place

If a mish-mash of photos is a fair description of the images that you use on your various online accounts, now may be the time to take action.

As I said earlier, if you’re a leading authority in your field, you may already be so recognizable that you can ignore this advice. For the rest of us though, presenting a consistent personal brand across the web will help you to build and present your authority.

Ian Pullen

Ian Pullen

Graphic designer, web developer and writer with experience working on projects for solo entrepreneurs and big businesses like The New York Times and Unilever. Lives in Spain with Kate and an eccentric number of dogs and cats.