The Only Skill You Actually Need to Build Your Brand

May 12, 2020
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May 12, 2020 Stanley Ship

Think about people like Mark Cuban, Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

You know and remember them don’t you?

That’s because they all have a very powerful brand.

You probably can associate all sorts of things when I mentioned their name (like Apple and Steve Jobs).

Steve Job and Apple's Brand

But they have all come a long way. It took them decades to have a huge personal brand today. I can safely say it is because they don’t have a few things to leverage on like we do today. Like social media and the Internet.

Not only that, they weren’t building their personal brand intentionally. Certainly, they didn’t intentionally pick up skills that will help them to boost their personal brand (they don’t have to). 

They were doing good business and became successful. Because of what they have created, they have a strong personal brand today.  

Now, If you are planning to reap the endless benefit of having an awesome personal brand in the future, then you have got to do something about branding yourself now.

In order to build your personal brand fast and accurately in this day and age, you need the right skills to give it a boost.

This is especially true when you are a business owner looking to start building your personal brand. You could be at the stage where you are not yet ready to invest in a bigger team to help build your personal brand.

This is how a full branding team would look like. Although in that context, it is to brand a company, which is more expensive and requires more talent than branding a personal brand.

So until you can afford a team on your own to execute on your personal branding strategies, you will be doing most of the work first.

Of course, you can definitely outsource some of the heavy work like designing and video editing.

In this blog, I’ll cover the most important skill you need to speed up your personal branding efforts and make personal branding effective for you.

That is communication skills.

What happens when you don’t have this skill?

This is one of the most important skills not just for your personal brand, but in life.

(I’ll cover other important skills in the future).

Before we dive right in, let’s do some comparison, shall we?

Let’s say you have William. He is a programmer and knows techy-stuff. William is also looking to build a personal brand.

William the programmer

He has a colleague, Aaron, who is also looking to build a personal brand. That makes them direct competitors.

They are going to talk about the same thing, and covering the same topics. Unless one of them is smarter and knows how to take a different position for their personal brand, but let’s put that out of context first.

Both William and Aaron are extremely good in programming, but Aaron is also good in communication. He also spends extra time learning some basic marketing skills. 

Those are the important skills in order to boost Aaron’s personal brand. The reason is because all William can do is to reach out to people of the same community and network with people in the same field.

Because William is not really good in communication, that makes him… well, not so good in teaching and explaining things related to programming. Aaron, on the other hand, knows how to explain and guide people when talking about programming.

With good communication skills, Aaron has written blogs that are easy to understand and recognize by many company owners (who don’t know a thing about programming but have someone in their team that does). The result is, Aaron got invited to train or speak in those companies.

Aaron's Strong Personal Brand

With marketing skills, Aaron also knows how to use social media and blogs to further gain exposure for his personal brand.

Obviously, Aaron will have more opportunities.

Skills are Like Arsenals

Skills are like arsenals

it’s not about learning more skills, it’s about sharpening the right skills. 

You get my point, skills are important. So important that it sort of renders a college degree irrelevant.

With skills, you have more options. You understand the framework and fundamentals of the skill (so that you know how to keep your team accountable and they cannot “lie” to you about something that can or cannot be done).

It’s never a disadvantage when you have extra skills, especially the right ones that can skyrocket your branding efforts.

Here’s a word of caution, though. Don’t try and learn every and anything. You don’t want to be Jack-of-all-trades (master of none). At some point, you as the business owner will have to delegate.

it’s not about learning more skills, it’s about sharpening the right skills. Pick the more important and relevant ones for you in your current situation and context, and enhance it.

If you’re going to personal brand yourself, I believe this is the number 1 skill to sharpen.

Communication skills

First, don’t be scared off thinking that you’ll have to appear in front of the public to deliver a speech regularly.

In fact, the phrase “communication skills” is very broad. It covers face-to-face interactions (most people opt for this when they hear the phrase), phone conversations, digital communications, on-stage speeches, workplace communication and many more.

When I say communication skills in the context of personal branding, it’s about how you convey and articulate your message to others, so that they perceive you the way you want them to.

Sounds… manipulative, right? It is, quite.

But what can I say? Communication is key to build an effective brand.

There’s 3 areas of where communication skills are applied in branding to communicates effectively:

      1. Area of Copywriting
      2. Area of Content Creation
      3. Area of Connection Building

You improve these 3 areas of communication so that your brand is seen to be very good in communication. No room for confusion and guesses.

Many people who got into personal branding mostly only have 2 and 3 down.

They know what it means to be communicating and giving value to their audience through the content they create.

They also network a lot and get connected with many people in the same niche and community.

However, not many people put in the effort and deliberately learn copywriting.

By improving these 3 skill areas of communication, you will be able to properly write for your brand, create content that is clear and valuable (not complex and difficult), and build a strong and loyal following by building connection.

Now let’s look at each of the areas related to communication for your personal brand:

#1 Copywriting

If you google what is copywriting, you’ll get this definition and it is from Oxford.

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It’s not wrong, but I’ll add on to that by saying that Copywriting is the use of “copy” (text or words) to persuade people to take action. Whether it is a purchase, an endorsement, a click, a share or a like.

Copy is everywhere and it’s actually a 2.3 Trillion USD industry worldwide, as explained by AWAI.

This may not be the most common talk about copywriting because many marketers associate copywriting with sales copywriting. Indeed, copywriting is used in many sales related materials like emails, video scripts, public speeches, brochures etc.

But in our context, we will apply copywriting to build our personal brand.

Take a look at how Ramit Sethi applies copywriting to how he talks about himself. Tell me that you don’t want to read any further? 

 

Ramit’s About me Page

His copy is persuading you to continue to read further to the point where he earns your trust and if you need to purchase a course about earning a better income, you’ll do so from him.

Not only that, copywriting is also applied in social media posts. Check out Chris Do’s Instagram posts and how he uses good headlines to hook you into reading his carousels.

Chris Do's Profile

Communicate better by learning copywriting

A little unlike the true definition of copywriting, I believe that by having this skill you can communicate, write, present, and phrase better whenever you use words (and we use it every single second).

Do you see how important copywriting is? If so, I have good news and bad news for you. Let’s go with the bad news first.

Copywriting is not something you can learn and master in a matter of months. It takes years of experience in order to be really good. Well, you only have to do that if you are focusing on becoming a copywriter.

But in your case, you may be a business owner. If it is something that you really like and you want it to be your main skill, then learn all you can. Otherwise, you probably just need to know enough so that you can provide a basic framework for copywriters you will hire into your team in the future.

The good news is, there’s a “hack” to write properly with enough practice. That is to use formulas. For this, I highly recommend you to check out Copyhacker’s ultimate guide to copywriting formulas. If you want to go deeper in copywriting, then go and check out their entire site, it’s everything about copywriting.

#2 Content Creation

When you are creating content, you are communicating. When you are creating content, to some extent, you are applying copywriting. 

So, when you improve your copywriting skills, naturally you will also learn to speak and communicate better. Which means that you will also improve when it comes to creating content.

For this component, communication for your brand is important when it comes to guiding, educating, inspiring people through your content. 

Remember a teacher who doesn’t teach well not because they are not knowledgeable in that subject? They are so knowledgeable to the point whatever they teach about the subject is so difficult to understand and complex.

That’s not good communication skills.

If you know how to bring across your points so simple that even a 5th grader can understand, then you can safely say that your content is easy to consume.

The more content you create, the more you teach. The more you teach, the more you are perceived as the expert and people will want to learn from you. Now, you don’t want to be like the teacher who knows so much but fails at transferring knowledge to her students.

That’s where you need good communication skills.

Communicating well through your content is not just the use of simple and properly phrased sentences. There’s also the visual aspect of communication as well. That means the proper use of images, videos or diagrams.

If you can properly teach and help people to learn and discover more, you’re going to be recognized as a thought leader, and with that comes a strong brand.

Communicate better by creating more content

There’s no shortcut for this. The way to improve how you communicate through your content is by creating more and also reading or consuming more.

Answering questions in forums or comments will help you too. If you find yourself having to explain something a few times to someone, you know that you haven’t do a good job in communicating a certain information (either that or the person is just stupid). 

Feedback will be very helpful to you. When you create content, listen to what people have to say about your content.

Don’t use bombastic and fancy words, and honestly, the best way to communicate through your content is write like the way you talk. 

Don’t be afraid to explain your sentences further and use more examples.

Although content creation includes creating videos, podcast or audio format materials, and visual designed posts, ultimately it requires writing or words. That means to improve the area of content creation is to improve your writing skills. 

#3 Connection Building

This would be easier to understand when brought to the offline world.

As said by Porter Gale, “Your network is your net worth,” which is also the title of her book. The bigger your network, the more connection you have, the more exposure you get.

You are exposed to more opportunities. 

This is where the area of connection building comes into play. Generally speaking, if you are good at making connections with people, you are good at communicating.

In the offline world, you would go to meet up groups, attend networking events, conferences and industry events to meet and connect with likeminded people.

The act of doing that increases your personal brand awareness. This will open up more opportunities like getting an invitation to speak at one of their company’s events, or a forum.

It is quite similar in the online world. Especially in social media. If you have an online social media profile, don’t just let it sit (and rot).

Be social, start connecting and engaging with people. Be present in conversations relating to the industry or a subject matter. Slide into personal messages and talk to them, just like you would in a networking event.

Now, before you do any of this networking and connecting online, make sure you have a good profile. It’s like getting properly dressed before going to the networking event, except that this is “dressing-up” your online profile. Check out Hootsuite’s blog on how to do that.

Communicate better to create more connections online

Imagine if people were to talk to you or ask you questions in a forum after you finish up a discussion topic. And all you do when you receive those engagements is just walking away or not answering them. Maybe you even turn to some people in the backstage and talk to them instead.

How would people feel? That’s the same when people engage with your content online, liking and commenting, but you don’t respond to their engagement.

Imagine if you have a social media profile that is inactive and “not properly dressed,” that’s like someone staying in a corner, not getting noticed in a gigantic networking room.

Everyone else is having conversation and engaging with each other, while you’re just alone, or sticking to the same few people.

You need to expand your network. This is the part where you know how important it is to communicate well. Take a look at this article that highlights the 10 skills of communication.

Those skills can be applied into communication online. For example:

When you are talking to your audience through your content, apply empathy.

Another instance, you are commenting on people’s content, ask good questions.

Or it could be when you are having a conversation in a personal chat, be friendly.

Here’s a tip, speak to someone as if you are having a conversation over a cup of coffee.

Don’t go into the “sales-mode” and don’t even think about “getting something” out of the conversation. Just chat, connect and be curious (not annoyingly asking questions).

The Big Takeaway

You won’t only be leveling up your personal branding game if you nail it in communication skills.

When doing marketing for your business, good communication skills will give you an advantage as well. Needless to say that it will also benefit you when doing sales.

Here’s a few things that you can start off today:

      1. If you haven’t gone through the beginning phase of personal branding to get clear on some personal brand elements, then go here, then check out the important things to know before starting.
      2. After you clear with how you want to personal brand yourself, start learning about copywriting (check out the section above).
      3. Then, create more content and apply some basic copywriting skills in those content.
      4. Don’t forget to constantly meet new people.
          • Join Facebook Groups
          • Join Forums & or Online communities (like Reddit)
          • Go to QnA pages and answer questions (like Quora)
          • Comment on people’s post or profile
          • Don’t be shy to approach people in the same industry.

Conclusion

The amount of information transmitted and received by normal human beings today are… “inhuman.”

If you need to get your message across and make your brand known, you need good communication skills.

Brands like Coca-cola, Nike and Apple communicate so well that people allow these brands to stay in their mind.

It’s not only about the products that they are in business to sell, it’s about their values, beliefs and core message that they are sharing to the world. Those are included in their communication as a brand.

If you want to speed up your personal brand growth, you need to learn communication skills. 

That skill will be in play when you are improving your brand’s copywriting, when you are creating content, and when you are building more connections.

Stay tuned for my future blog posts where I will be talking about what I do and how I do it in terms of copywriting, creating content and building more connections with people.

Let me know in the comments which skills you are looking to improve.

 

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Stanley Ship

I'm a Marketing Strategist and the founder of Renesis Group, which is a marketing agency. I help business owners grow brand presence and continuously get new customers by executing clear marketing strategies. If you're looking for possibilities and opportunities in growing your business, you definitely need a marketing strategy (and a good one).

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