Do you know who the most successful individual investor is today? If you knew (or guessed) that the answer is Warren Buffet, well done! You are correct. What about the biggest, most successful investment firm today? Do you know who that is? There’s no shame if you had to search on Google to learn that it’s Bank of America’s wealth management division. As a traditionally trained economist, I myself had no idea.
People remember people, that’s how we’re hardwired to build relationships from birth. It’s only later in life that we learn to look at companies, brands, or organizations as individual entities. That’s why major corporations spend billions of dollars every year to position their companies as trustworthy & friendly, or otherwise humanize their brand. It seems that you have the advantage, then, if you’re building a personality-based business—you were born human without paying anything to humanize yourself.
The Human Advantage
This concept is simple, but incredibly important, and it affects nearly every area where personal branding strategy differs from creating a corporate brand. Consider the logo, which every reputable company has. A good logo represents your brand identity, has some kind of meaning, and is instantly recognizable as a snapshot of, well, you.
Companies like Bank of America need a compelling logo that people recognize—but how do people currently recognize you? It’s a silly question, of course, your friends and family don’t recognize you by your clever t-shirt, snug-fitting blue jeans, or your favorite piece of art. People know you, and recognize you, by the best logo you could ever ask for—the same logo that smiles back at you from the mirror.
Your face is unique! Your expressions illustrate your personality, and your face is instantly recognizable to people who know who you are. Countless creators fret and fumble trying to get the perfect logo for their new website, spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to design something clever they’re going to discard the next year. Unfortunately, it’s a massive waste of time and energy—the logo you were born with is the best logo that you’ll ever find.
Smile, You're Online!
The know, like, and trust factor is precious in the world of commerce—but when you’re building a personal brand, the humanizing brand element is free. Instead of using corporate branding strategies, embrace your human advantage by building a personality-driven brand, and business, online.
For starters, if you haven’t already, invest in a good headshot that shows off your personality with eye contact and a smile. The "investment" could be an afternoon with a friend and your smartphone, trying different angles and lighting around town—or the investment could be a few hundred dollars to have a professional photographer capture your personality in the perfect profile shot. Over time, these investments will pay off as your influence grows—allowing you to connect to more people than you could ever meet with offline.