The Art of Digital Communication: Developing Your Online Brand Persona
Humans are multi-faceted. Often, I have been tempted to take the results of the many personality tests I’ve taken over the years and combine them somehow to get an overall picture of ‘me.’ I’m willing to bet, though, that even with all that information there would still be aspects of my personality that aren’t covered.
The depth of each individual is more than the sum of their parts. When the time comes to create a personal or business brand, developing an online persona means sorting through all of the values, beliefs, personality traits, and personal interests to develop a brand with personality and meaning that relates to the problem you are solving for others.
There is no way to incorporate all the aspects of your personality into your online brand persona without confusing people. When the time arrives for you to create your persona, you will need to pick elements that make up who you are and what you stand for that coincide with what you want to accomplish as a business.
Your online brand persona should include:
- Who you are (demographics)
- What you stand for (purpose and mission statement)
- Your values (passion, vision, impact)
- Your expertise (knowledge, education, experience)
- Emotional impact (how you want people to feel when they interact with your brand)
Take a few moments to save or print this graphic and fill it out for your business. I’ve completed one for mine as an example to help you get started. (Do a right click > Save As to save the graphic to your computer.)
Finding Your ‘Voice’
Not going to lie to you, sometimes finding your voice can be difficult. It is something that plagues new writers the world over. However, as a brand, you are going to need your own voice. Consistency is so important. If it takes multiple touches for a potential client to recognize and remember your brand, creating content with a consistent, authentic tone and style is essential.
You’ll want to tap into those things you’ve already discovered about your personality that are elements of your company’s brand. If your personality is sassy, then your voice has to have that same style. If your online personality is professional and technical then sarcasm is going to feel awkward and out of place.
Once you have defined your online personality, your voice needs to match those decisions. Since it is YOUR online personality, it should be simple enough to create a voice that sounds on paper the way that you sound when talking to others in public. Here are some great suggestions when it comes to refining your brand voice.
Be a Giver
It makes me sad when I come across a business owner that is adamantly against sharing any of their intellectual property for free. They want the world to recognize and respect their education and experience – which I completely understand. Unfortunately, there are many people out there offering similar products or services that also have expertise. For a consumer, it can be quite difficult to find a company that matches what they truly want/need just by comparing websites or talking to someone at an event. The businesses that stand out are the ones that understand that delicate balance of magic and generosity. Having a blog, group, podcast or video series so that your ideal clients not only find you but have the opportunity to understand the true value of what you bring to the table, is how to stay top of mind and build your sales funnel.
Your intellectual property is important and you should guard it and wield it well. No one is saying you have to give it away for free. The key is deciding what free content will draw the right people in so that they are tempted to buy into your intellectual property – so they understand its worth in order to make a purchasing decision.
Be who your target audience needs you to be, where they need you be, offering what they need to live better or work smarter. Be a giver and the audience will want to reciprocate.
Just Getting Started
If you are just starting up your business venture, this process needs to be uncovered before you do anything else – before you create a mission statement, before you build a website and before you go out into the world and start networking and meeting people. Why? If you don’t understand who you are (as a business) and what you stand for, how in the world are you going to be able to articulate how you serve to other people in a way that will be engaging and meaningful? If your elevator pitch is 60 seconds of telling people WHAT you do without demonstrating WHY you do it, then you’ve done nothing to discriminate yourself from every other person they’ve met that day or every other website they visited.
This is why I advocate for people as the #BrandHammer. I serve by helping others see the potential in their branding and marketing and I teach them how to communicate what they do with the world. In a world of brands, the only way to truly stand out anymore is to be doing something worth people’s attention combined with being able to share that effort with impact. It all starts with building a well-thought out, creative, and meaningful brand for your business.
Feeling stuck with building your online persona or just want to uncover some truths about yourself? Take a few free personality tests! Here are links to sites I used to create the graphic at the top of this blog post. Have fun!