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A Complete Guide to Creating Your Online Brand in Just 10 Steps
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brand guidelinesToday, being an online business person means being intimately familiar with the phrase “personal brand.”

Like any entrepreneur, you’re looking to build relationships with your audience. And in order to do that, your own unique, recognized, and trusted brand becomes really important.

But good news!  Creating your brand may easily become the best strategic step you’ve taken.

Why?

Because people want to purchase from and use services of the people (and the organizations) that they know and trust. And the way you present your brand defines whether they will become your customers.

Elements of a Successful Personal Brand

Tweet it! Building a brand means achieving 3 factors of success: brand awareness, likability and credibility.

Let’s be honest: reaching these goals is a challenging task. To be liked and trusted by your customers requires much effort. Even if you were the greatest person in the world, it wouldn’t follow that people would simply throw money to your business. First, you should deserve their trust.

Elements of Trust

The specifics of today’s relationships between customers and businesses can be described in this way:

  • Consumers expect honesty and caring from the people, businesses, and organizations with whom they do business.
  • Customers want meaningful relationships with brands and more personal interactions when doing business.
  • Brands need to be less impartial and to have a “face”.
  • Partnership and mutual care of brands and their audiences motivate their long-term and trustworthy relationships.

Following these guidelines means being more contributive in the online spaces where your audience hangs out, and collaborating with them as well. This will bring you not only people’s trust and sympathy, but profit as well.

The Importance of Personal Connections

Tweet it! The most efficient way to generate trust in you and your brand is to make personal connections with your customers. This is easy to say, but not always easy to implement. In cases where you can’t connect one-on-one, let your customers get to know you on a more personal level.

10 Ways to Make Personal Connections with Your Customers

Making personal connections isn’t always easy, but here are at least 10 brand guidelines to get you started. And remember – you don’t have to do all ten. At least not right away! People will recognize that you are making an effort to build the connections, and more often than not, they will return the favor.

Step 1: Create an “About Me” Page

Your About page on your website is your chance to tell customers about yourself and let them really get to know you. Include a few facts that will interest your customers (such as how you came to be providing the good/service/product that your customer is interested in) as well as what motivates you. This is also a good place to present the opportunity to become a subscriber by offering an opt-in offer in exchange for their email.

A good way to do this is to include a story yourself. It should be not a detailed bio. Instead, focus on the more personal things that will bring you closer to your readers. It is also a good idea to post a photo in order to make your site look more reliable. For this same purpose you can also place some testimonials on this page.

Step 2: Add Social Buttons

When it comes to making connections with your customers, it’s hard to beat giving them a chance to reach out to you with their questions and feedback. One of the best ways to do this is to add social buttons to your site, and to follow these easy rules of social media optimization.

Featuring your social social sites is a good way to get known and gain more followers, as well as to increase your trustworthiness. Communicating with your customers on a social media level is a necessary thing nowadays. You become a trusted source of information, and this helps to create company awareness and brand credibility. Moreover, the informal way of communication on social networks is something that brings you closer to your audience.

Step 3: Craft a Compelling Tagline

Tweet it! A tagline is typically a short phrase that instantly tells your visitors what your business is about. A compelling tagline will stick in your customer’s mind, and over time, it may come to be associated with you and your business.

The key thing to remember about taglines is that they should be individual and demonstrate your mission. If you can, try to include the main benefit that your customers will gain by working with you, buying your online training, or purchasing your product.

Step 4: Create an Engaging Blog

A perfect means to help you connect with your audience, and to become a memorable brand, is to have a unique and engaging blog. In this era of online marketing, it’s rare that you’re the only business in your market. However, what will attract your customers is your personal voice – the way in which you communicate via your website, social media, and – yes – especially on your blog.

The key to successfully using your blog, however, is to plan ahead for what kind of content you’re going to produce, and how often. This involves researching in order to find new, high-quality information, and listening to what your customers want and need and then responding by posting helpful tips and relevant facts.

Remember that your blog is one of the best ways you have to establish your brand guidelines and approach your audience. Try to be informal and friendly to stimulate discussions and build up relationships.

Step 5: Create a Unique Design for Your Blog and Logo

Great design is all about making an impression on your new audience members, and hopefully to be remembered as well! The point here is to combine professional traits and originality. Though not so important as your brand message, design still plays a great visual role, so you should know the basic design elements and core principles when building a website. Boost your brand’s awareness and recognition by using a simple but attractive logo associated with your brand’s image.

Step 6: Post Valuable Content

To maintain your brand’s credibility and trust, you should provide people with incredibly helpful, high-quality, relevant and sharable content. This applies to both your blog and your social media networks.

Your blog posts don’t need to be lengthy or terribly complicated. Simple posts will work just as well, as long as they are helpful to your customers. You may answer somebody’s requests in your posts or provide valuable solutions. Helping people to decide on an issue, shaping their mindset, and offering some kind of advice can make you a source of online reference in your domain.

Step 7: Post Videos and Podcasts

This is another way to be human, active and individual. No matter how well your write, text will never be loved as much as images and videos. Plus, mere text can’t convey your feelings and personal traits quite as vividly. That’s why including the occasional video or podcast in your marketing is a great way to make you and your business more familiar, accessible, and interactive.

Step 8: Be Yourself

When you’re first starting to build your brand, it’s natural to look to others in your industry for the standards on how to present yourself. However, there’s a fine line between using others as inspiration, and simply copying their own branding. Your customers are smart, and while they may appreciate your professionalism, they won’t trust you if you sound “just like the other guys.”

The best way to effortlessly engage your audience is to find your voice. Your readers will appreciate – and respond to – your manner of speech, your individual style, and your voice. After all, your readers would much rather interact with a real person than with a cookie-cutter corporate drone.

Step 9: Engage Your Audience with Rewards

Holding various contests with prizes is a great way for your brand to generate goodwill and more interactions. And, it also brings you new subscribers. You may offer your audience a prize for guessing something about your company or for sharing some information about you. Promote these contests through social media and watch the results.

Step 10: Be Polite and Thankful

As you and your brand gain more popularity, don’t forget to respond all of the comments that you receive on your blog posts! Thank those who shared your posts personally through social media, and be sure to keep up with the conversations happening around your brand on Facebook and Twitter. Not only is it good manners to say thank you, but it also allows your audience to see that you genuinely notice and care when someone shares your work.

Creating an online brand can seem challenging at first. Start with one of these simple tips to build up your individual online brand, and then move on to the next one when you’re ready. Most of all, remember to put your soul in what you do!

How have you built your personal brand? What did you struggle with, and what were your successes? Let me know in the comments!

Andrew Smith is a social media marketer, a web developer in the past, a writer working in QArea that is specialized in providing Web, Mobile, Desktop app development/testing services. Andrew [@QArea] enjoys writing about social media, marketing and IT technologies.

15 Comments

  1. Carson Craig says:

    Awesome article. I think the thing I struggle with most is defining my tag-line. It all comes back to defining my niche. I don’t want to be too selective in defining my niche, but I know that being too broad can also hurt your brand.

    After you mentioned that your tagline should tell the visitors what they will gain from your site, that makes a lot more since. I have been focusing on providing a tag-line that defines what my site is instead of what the main benefit the readers should expect to gain.

    • Andrew Smith says:

      Carson, you’re right that defining a tag-line is not an easy thing. But you’ve mentioned the key point exactly right – the tagline should show users the benefits of visiting your site. Actually, this practice of putting yourself in your visitors’ place and trying to think the way they do, can help in many challenging situations. I’m glad my advice helped you.

  2. sj says:

    great reminder to always, always, always know you are your most valuable asset and to find your own unique voice in the world. that is my target, to empower women entrepreneurs to know they inspire, they matter and can shine in the world knowing what they know, with their own unique talents and abilities.
    great job thank you

  3. Virginia says:

    Very well laid out information. To the point. Thank you for these tips.

  4. CarlosRodriguez says:

    Wow, great post, back in a year I would say that I needed to do a lot of things, now I’m in the right track. Although I still need to do a lot, by reading your 10 points, I can see that I’m doing my homework. There’s still a long way to go, I have to work a lot in these points, but I’m on it! ;)

  5. Hi Andrew
    Being yourself on your blog is crucial and that includes letting your readers know what you look like. I have trouble with commenters who neither show a picture nor even their name. Interacting with a generic being is not engaging at all and I soon drop those people.
    Thanks for a good list of hints about engagement!
    Elaine

    • Andrew Smith says:

      Elaine, I totally agree with you. Showing your personality to the audience is especially essential for a blogger. I think everyone prefers interacting with a certain person knowing his name, some facts about him, and of course, how he looks like.

  6. Razwana says:

    Andrew – your ideas are excellent. Personal connection is definitely what sets people apart. I have definitely benefited from doing this – going beyond the level of expected service for my copywriting clients.

    The bonus of this method is referrals to new clients.

  7. Delmer Steer says:

    Definitively, the most important point is your article closing point. That “you should provide people with incredibly helpful, high-quality, relevant and sharable content.” Of course, it doesn’t make sense to write long blog pages with no lines of direction or a perfect message delivered to your potential visitors. You got to deliver your soul on every paragraph, so they can save it to read it later, copy, print it or share it with their connections.

    • Andrew Smith says:

      I completely agree with you, Delmer. High-quality content with something special and personal in it is a key to create long-term online relations with your readers.

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