If you want to attract your ideal clients, you need to build an expert personal brand.
But how do you do that? And specifically, how do you do that through content creation?
In this post, I’ll share three principles, three examples and ten big tips to help you create your expert personal brand so you can stand out online and attract your ideal clients.
What is an Expert Personal Brand?
A brand is typically defined as the way that your clients, colleagues and followers see you. You can shape this perception by the way you present yourself, including the content you create and share online.
A personal brand is the brand of an individual. While a business brand may include the look and feel of your head office, your personal brand reflects how you look – your hair and clothes – and how you make people feel.
An expert personal brand includes the things that make you appear as an individual business expert or thought leader. And this includes the type of content that you create and share online and with your clients.
This is the focus of this post: How do you promote your personal brand through content creation?
The Big Challenge for Content Creators
The big challenge for all content creators publishing online is to stand out from all the noise.
Alas, most content creators are their own worst enemy because they often publish generic content – that looks and feels like the millions of other pieces of content online.
That’s a mistake because they blend in rather than stand out. And this can mean creating and publishing your content online can be a waste of time.
The opportunity here is to define your signature style for creating content that quickly, easily and consistently promotes your expert personal brand.
Three Principles to Create Your Content Brand
To create your signature content and personal brand style, let’s start with three fundamental principles that everyone can play by.
1 Play to your strengths
The golden rule for being successful in life and business is to play to your strengths.
This starts with knowing what they are. There are two approaches here:
- Know thyself through reflection.
- And listen to feedback from others – including Strength Finders tools.
On the right is my strength profile report from the Stand Out test from Marcus Buckingham. (Currently, he is offering this as a free gift and I highly recommend you start here if you want to work out what your strengths are.)
We spoke more about strengths here:
2 Let it emerge
The second principle is to experiment, test and explore with publishing content to find your signature. You want your style to be authentic to who you are. That’s why designing a style will only get you so far. This principle implies that you must first, create content that works. Then you can evolve, morph and grow your style.
3 That’s so you!
A few days ago, I was talking with my video buddy Philippe. He didn’t know that I was creating this video on signature styles and he said something that made my day. He said, ‘I love your most recent videos. You’re really developing your own style here. It is so you, Geoff.’
This is your goal here: to have an expert personal brand that is so you!
Example 1: Book Rapper
The first example is the one that I am most famous for. Well, at least well known by my colleagues.
It’s the Book Rapper page. Book Rapper was a book summary service that I ran.
Most book summary services usually just give you less words than the actual book – but they’re pages and pages of words.
But I approached this differently. I wanted each page to be a snapshot of an idea. The page was designed with a headline, a visual and the least amount of text I could use.
I used this for over 700 pages at Book Rapper and for two books, Weekly Done 1 and 2. Here are some lessons and tips from what I’ve learned.
1 Design Your Format
Let’s start with the format of your content.
As a former architect, I think of format as the basic structure of the important design decisions you make. When you choose the way you create your content, there are always built-in design decisions you are making along the way.
Look for these design decisions as opportunities to create your expert personal brand.
Your format can mean many things – it could be:
- Video versus audio
- Visuals versus words
- Landscape versus Portrait
- One idea per page
At Book Rapper, my format and brand style was the single page with visuals and in landscape mode and not portrait. This was deliberate because I wanted people to read the information on their screen – most screens are landscape. Plus, it worked better from a design perspective to lay out the ideas.
What’s your format? What are the key design decisions you make in creating and sharing your content?
2 Use your Natural Style
When I first created Book Rapper, I didn’t think of this as creating a style – I just did what I did.
And given my background as an architect, I naturally started sketching visual diagrams, models, and layouts. It was a legacy from ten years of training in design thinking.
For you, ask yourself what is the way that you think about your work?
This is a crucial part of the ‘expert’ element of your personal brand. For example, are you:
- Good with numbers and statistics
- Love a good graph
- Naturally, share jokes and stories
- Enjoy a healthy metaphor or
- Love rhyming wordplay
Once you’ve worked this out then you can use it to express yourself in your content creation and build your expert personal brand.
What’s your natural or preferred way do you use to share your ideas?
3 Adopt a Message Style
One of my personal strengths is the ability to sort through a lot of information and identify the key ideas.
I was good at this before I created Book Rapper and then through the experience of creating 60 plus book summaries, I became even better at it.
A lot of people have told me over the years that they admire the way I can find the essence of an idea. This has become a key brand word for me: essence. This reflects my bias for big picture thinking and identifying patterns.
The visual examples here from Book Rapper and Weekly Done show how I translate this way of seeing the world into a visual expression through my content creation.
I think the opposite of high concepts is probably storytelling because you are adding a lot more detail plus you take your audience on a journey with you. In contrast, high concept kind of just says ‘here’s the idea and drops on the table with a loud thud.’
Both styles work.
What’s your message style? What’s your preferred way to share your ideas?
4 Pick Your Precision
It follows that my love of concepts and principles means that I also use a minimum number of words. I want to be simple, minimal and precise. I want people to absorb my messages as fast as possible.
(You can see the short sharp sentence style in this blog post.)
A few years ago, in a podcast interview, I was asked how I created the Book Rapper summaries. They wanted to know how I was able to rewrite a 50,000-word business book in under 1000 words? I half-jokingly replied, ‘You just leave out the stories and the examples.’
You might be more chatty, more flirty or more playful.
What level of precision do you want in your messages?
Example 2: Video
A great example of how to build a signature style over time is to review some of my videos on my YouTube channel.
Given I had almost no experience in creating a visual style for video, I simply had to keep experimenting.
In my past few videos, I think a distinct style has begun to emerge. There are four qualities emerging:
5 Find your Flamboyance
A lot of people on YouTube say if you’re going to do headshot videos then you must make your background interesting to give your audience something to look at.
I’ve taken a different point of view: my goal is to make my content and presentation style more interesting.
Therefore, I’ve gone for a minimal background in my videos. It’s consistent with the other elements of my personal brand style.
This might work for you, or you might prefer a more luxurious or flamboyant approach.
Are you a minimalist or more flamboyant?
6 Being You
But this also means I must improve the way I present.
My footy tipping buddy, Michael challenged me with my videos. He said, ‘You need to let the playful Geoff that I get to see when I talk with you, appear in your videos instead of the formal one that is there now.’ That was great feedback. And it became an important goal for me.
This comes down to my way of being, which is the most personal signature you have in your personal brand toolkit.
Ideally, the same person in my life is the same person appearing in my videos – that’s what Michael was pointing to. And that’s the big challenge and opportunity of video – there is no place to hide.
If you can be natural and authentic in your video presentations, you have an automatic way – and the most powerful way of all – to have a signature style.
What’s your natural way of being that you show with your closest friends? How can you show this through your content?
7 Show us the way
My preference for visual elements has come through into my videos. This includes the usual bits of B-Roll video footage, photos, and visual diagrams. But another unexpected set of visual elements has emerged: the words on screen.
They started out as small words in the corner and are now appear almost four times bigger smack back in the middle of the screen.
Different medium, different expression.
How will you use visuals to show us the way? Will they be the centrepiece of your personal brand or a sideshow?
8 Colour your Expertise
In my videos, a new style is emerging based on the blue filters I am using.
This wasn’t a random choice. It was chosen to highlight my physical features – namely my eyes. I was told a long time ago by a physical brand expert that blue is my colour because of my skin tone and eye colour. I already wore blue a lot – classic male colour – so that was easy to run with.
And by claiming this I can add another string to the bow of my personal brand. Each element strengthens and adds to a bigger, stronger more consistent presence.
What you look like is part of your personal brand, but I’d also add that things like colour are less important for an expert brand.
The key part of any expert brand must be your expertise. Everything else is secondary to this.
And the best way to showcase your expertise is to add value through your content creation.
What colour is your style? And how can you demonstrate your expertise through your content?
Example 3: Writing
A third example is a written post on Linked In. While visually, everyone’s written post on Linked In looks very similar, there are several ways you can make this a signature element so you can stand out and be seen.
9 Grow a Style
Your signature style will also fall out of the experience you have.
My current writing style comes from writing book summaries with short sharp sentences written in a casual style. It suits my high concept approach.
But it wasn’t always like this.
When I graduated from university, I wrote in the classic formal style of an academic. It was the kind of stuff you read to put yourself to sleep at night.
Over the years and through lots of practice, I’ve been able to change this.
Your personal brand style needs to be true to you and you can grow your style over time. You might think of this as how your appearance and your expertise grows, changes and evolves over time.
You might like to keep one eye on who you are right now, and the other on who you want to become.
What parts of your current style would you like to change?
10 Entertain your Insights
The content and topics you choose to write about also define your personal brand – especially your expert brand.
I tend to be a deep thinker. I can’t help it. It’s who I am and what I’m interested in. My content reflects this.
In my writing, some people say they like my deep probing questions.
But don’t fall for the mistake that deep questions are better than more popular ones. Not everyone wants deep thinking all of the time.
I have a friend who says, sometimes when I call her she doesn’t answer the phone because she doesn’t feel up to having one of our deep conversations. I get it. It’s not for everyone all the time.
Sometimes we just want to be entertained. We’ve all flopped down on the couch and turned on Netflix because we want some light entertainment instead of a hard-hitting documentary.
What’s your balance of insight and entertainment?
The Big Take-Away for your Expert Personal Brand
In this post, we’ve shared three principles, three examples and ten tips for you to create your personal brand through your content creation.
The number one takeaway here is you want to stand out and be heard then you can’t be generic like everyone else.
To build a strong expert personal brand you need to find your best expression of yourself. Remember, it is an expert brand but it is also a personal brand. Use this opportunity to showcase who you truly are. You’ll have more fun along the way and you’ll get better results.
But also note: This will require you to step out of your comfort zone and test, explore and experiment.
You might think of this as buying a new fancy shirt or getting a fresh haircut (just like me – lol). At first, it might feel risky but soon it will become you. But once you start wearing it a few times it will soon become a natural part of who you are.
How can you let the authentic special you shine brightly?
More on using Content Creation to build your Expert Personal Brand
Here are some more resources to help you build your expert personal brand through content creation:
- Content Marketing Strategy – share what you know
- Create a Service Offering You’ll Fall in Love with
- Three Simple Things to Do to Create a Great Brand
Which of these three principles or ten tips inspires you the most?