5 Questions to Help You Develop Your Personal Brand

Branding yourself is all about learning, and then portraying, who you are and what you represent. As a financial professional you have to connect with people on a personal level, which means moving beyond your company's corporate branding and finding your own.

Caterpillar: "Who... are... you?"
Alice: "I- I hardly know, sir. I've changed so many times since this morning, you see..." 
"No, I do not 'C.' Explain yourself."
"I'm afraid I can't explain myself sir, because I'm not myself, you know." 
"I do not know."
"Well, I can't put it any more clearly, sir, for it isn't clear to me." 
"You? Who ARE you?" 

(Excerpt from Alice in Wonderland)

Branding is much more than logos and colors. It also answers one very important question:

What should your audience know and feel about YOU?

Maybe you have something unique that sets you apart as a financial planner. Or you want to highlight certain aspects of the company you work for. Or perhaps your first priority is to convey that, unlike all the other wholesalers out there, you don't just care about your bottom line, you care about your brokers. I mean, you're dedicated, reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable...who wouldn't want to work with you?

Am I right?

Branding and marketing are so difficult because at their core, they're selling. You're just not selling a product or service...you're selling something even more important...which is yourself (and even the company you work for). That's why it needs to be honest, truthful, and genuine.

5 Questions to ask to help you brand yourself

1. What are my specialties and passions?

What passions or hobbies do you have that some of those in your audience might share? Is there a certain area you want to be perceived as an expert in? It's important to successfully and consistently convey this to your audience.

2. What is my personality?

You'll want to establish a consistent "voice." Company branded materials are one thing - but when sending "thank you" and other notes, you should write as your professional self - you don't want to drift too far from who you are or you could come across as insincere. But all your marketing materials should have the same style and "tone." Remember, if you wouldn't "say it" that way, don't "write it" that way.

3. Who should I network with?

You can grow or strengthen your brand through associations with other well established brands. Is there an alumni newsletter you can contribute to? Do you have a blog, or company blog, you can post on? LinkedIn technically falls under the next question, but it also has an almost endless collections of groups to follow - so join in the discussion!

4. What is my social media strategy?

Yes, social media is intimidating. Before you dive in and start tweeting, it's best to plan what type of information and media you want to share. What would your audience be interested in? Many larger corporations have attempted to take a more family-oriented approach. Would a similar approach work for your audience? It's important to determine how your social media strategy will fit in with your overall marketing plan. You should also make sure you understand all the compliance regulations associated with using social media before you jump in with both feet.

5. Am I connecting with my audience in a personal way?

Personal touches are becoming more and more important. Make sure you're sending, at the very least, thank you notes, birthday and holiday cards. If you send out corporate-designed mailings, include a handwritten note in the envelope. No time to handwrite? We can create a font in your handwriting to use in any mailings you send out.

What are you struggling with when it comes to developing your personal brand?