If you run a small business, chances are you’ve spent some time and effort building a business brand – but what about your personal brand? Branding applies as much to people as it does to businesses.


For many small business owners, a strong personal brand is what sets them apart from competitors and makes their business accessible. Think about it. A person can speak at a networking event, write a blog post, or pick up the phone – a business can’t.


In the current landscape where everything is online, remote and impersonal, putting a face to a business name can be incredibly powerful. But is it really necessary for every small business?


A personal brand is a no-brainer for some small businesses, but not everyone needs one.


If you’re new on the scene, you’re looking to increase visibility and growth, and you’re comfortable ‘putting yourself out there’, a personal brand can add huge value. However, if world domination isn’t on your agenda and you’ve already got a well-established business, you probably don’t need a personal brand.


Take Matt, for example. Matt is some guy I made up and named in honour of this year’s Bachelor. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s say Matt is a chef who employs a handful of staff in his cafe. Matt’s business has a good reputation in the local community and a steady stream of customers. Matt prefers to keep a low profile and work behind the scenes of his business. He has no real desire to upscale.


While Matt’s business could benefit from a personal brand, he probably doesn’t need one. Even if he built an impressive personal profile, he’s probably not the kind of guy to leverage it anyway. On the other hand, you’ve got someone like me – a freelance copywriter. My whole business is tied to my personal brand. There wouldn’t be a business without me.


When people choose Tea & Copy, they’re really choosing me – and how I present myself matters. From my social media posts to my website photos and how I compose my customer emails, my business name leverages my personal brand in every way.


Building a strong personal brand has made my life so much easier in so many ways – and it makes life easier for my customers too.


By being as authentic as I can and injecting a good dose of ‘Alicia’ into Tea & Copy, customers have a pretty good idea of who they’re dealing with before they even fill out my contact form. I’m not saying every single customer is a perfect fit, but my personal brand has made it that much easier to attract ‘my people’.


So, what do you need to create a personal brand? That largely depends on what you do and how you like to market yourself, but the following elements will get you off to a great start.


  • A handful of professional photographs. Think headshots with good lighting, that don’t make you cringe when you look at them. A grainy selfie taken on your iPhone is not an option, unless your brand is Kardashian.


  • A well-designed website. Pay particularly attention to your About page. Make sure you share some details of your personal story and how your business came to be.


  • A social media presence. You don’t have to be everywhere – but pick a couple of platforms that suit your brand and do them right. While Facebook and LinkedIn work best for someone like me, Snapchat and Instagram would be better choices for fashion brands or foodies.


  • A book. Nothing screams ‘expert’ like being a published author. If you want to establish yourself as the go-to person in your field, a book (printed or digital) is an awesome tool. Get me to ghost write a book if you’re not up for writing yourself.


  • A uniform. If you speak regularly at events or you do a lot of video, a distinctive style of dress can help make you memorable. My style is all black everything, a la Angelina Jolie, but think of Matt Preston’s cravat or Heston Blumenthal’s glasses as other examples (yep, I’m a Masterchef fan too). It doesn’t have to be designer – it just has to be recognisably you.


Like any business brand, a personal brand should always be a work in progress. As you change and evolve professionally, so should your personal brand.


I’ve done my fair share of reinvention over the years. One thing I’ve found is that people who dig ‘brand Alicia’ are keen to come along for the ride, regardless of the destination. Some of my current clients have followed me for more than a decade. They knew me when I was a brash blogger with a penchant for political incorrectness. Now they know me as a professional copywriter and communications queen. They’ve followed me through a recent business rebrand and seen me rock every hair colour under the sun.


The moral of the story is don’t be afraid to try new things. If you’ve built a strong personal brand, your audience will be genuinely interested in what you’re doing. They’ll be invested in you, personally, and they’ll want to be part of the journey.


The best thing about having a brand that’s all about you, is that your business can go anywhere you want it to. I’m pretty sure I’ve found my calling with copywriting, but I reckon I’ve got a rap career somewhere up my sleeve. Stay tuned.

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