When I asked one of my recent female CEO clients, Joy Loewen, why she wanted to invest in her personal brand, she said “I'm at a time in my life where I have more confidence in who I am. I know the type of work I enjoy doing and I know WHY I do the work I do.”
Keep that powerful statement in mind as you read through this post, covering how female entrepreneurs can build a personal brand and my top 8 personal branding tips for female CEOs.
Tip 1: Determine What Parts of Your Story You Want to Tell
As a female entrepreneur, you likely have an impressive resume and life story to tell. But you can’t communicate it all in your personal brand. Nor do you necessarily want to. What will be most impactful is honing in on some key elements of it that can be built out further with the use of visuals and messaging.
To narrow down what aspects of you you should include, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I stand for?
- Where do I want to go with my career?
- How do I want to position myself?
- What’s my origin story?
- What makes me, me?
When I first started my work with Joy Loewen, CEO of the National Screen Institute of Canada, she shared a keynote speech she gave at the Winnipeg Women’s Conference. This piece of content was a great building block and a great source of inspiration for understanding Joy’s tone, style and mindset.
It’s items like this I encourage you to use when developing your personal brand.
Tip 2: Align Your Personal Brand With Your Personality
This may seem obvious, but you want people to see your personal brand and immediately associate it with elements of your personality. But how exactly do you do that? Here’s an example of an approach I used when building a personal brand for Liz Choi, CEO for Education Canada Group.
I kicked off the discovery process by asking her to interview her team members and colleagues, gathering the first words that came to mind when they thought of Liz. Here’s what they came up with
This was a great starting point for the project. It provided me with the context of what Liz is like as a leader. These words easily allowed me to develop a personal brand that captured her personality.
Check out the full case study to see the final design for The “Ferocious” Liz Choi’s personal brand.
Tip 3: Get Creative With Your Brand Name
Though you’re developing a personal brand, your brand’s name doesn’t necessarily need to be your name. There’s room for creativity here. The name you choose for your personal brand should communicate your purpose, goals as well as personality. It should give others an idea of what they can expect when working with you.
When it came to Liz’s personal brand, developing a name came easy as her colleagues had already organically been referring to her as “Liz Ferocious.” Soon after, Liz was named Chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and members started using the hashtag, #FerociousEra on social. So building on this idea for Liz’s brand identity was an obvious choice.
Alternatively, you can choose a name for your personal brand that sounds more like a business. Take my client, Kendall Bishop for example. When Kendall came to Little Ghost, she wanted to launch her personal brand under the name Badass Growth Co. This name expressed her work ethic and “get shit done” mentality her clients have come to expect of her.
So choose a name for your personal brand that reflects what you bring to the table as a female CEO.
Tip 4: Invest in a Personal Brand Photoshoot
A photoshoot may sound a little intimidating, but it’s worth it. Trust me. Having a bank of high quality photos will allow you to easily launch and communicate your brand across various channels. All while showing the face behind the brand, you!
With Kendall from Badass Growth Co., we knew we needed a library of photos in order to launch her website and social channels. Little Ghost helped her coordinate a branded photoshoot to ensure it would compliment her new personal brand identity.
Here’s some of the key considerations we took into consideration when planning her shoot:
- Location — we selected an environment that would look desirable to her target clients
- Models — I (Robyn) and my team posed as clients in some shots
- Styling — Kendall selected clothing that aligned with her brand colours
- Props — we brought along a few items that communicated her digital services, like a laptop
When planning your personal branding shoot, be sure to select a trusted photographer that has a style that will accompany the tone of your brand.
Tip 5: Design a Logo That Will Grow With You
Whether it’s a business or personal brand, developing an identity system that can grow with you is so important. There’s a few ways I suggest female entrepreneurs and CEOs do so.
First, invest in a full suite of logos with your brand name as well as simpler version that can be used in small applications. This would be for things like a LinkedIn or Instagram profile image and will ensure your logo is legible at all sizes.
Next, if you are using a moniker or business name for your brand, consider investing in a secondary logo of your name as well. For example with Liz, we designed her logos for both Liz Ferocious as well as Liz Choi. This gives her flexibility depending which audience she is talking to.
Finally, invest in an identity system that is modern and relevant. As a female CEO, you want to build a personal brand for the future. And so your logo should reflect that growth you want to see within your own career.
Tip 6: Make Your Brand Scaleable by Choosing Several Fonts, Colours, Etc..
Building a personal brand that is dynamic in its identity will allow you to customize it for various applications, assets and target audiences.
For example, you might want to showcase more colours and graphics on a platform like Instagram. Whereas, you might keep you LinkedIn profile and website more refined. Having a large suite of colours, typefaces, graphics, icons and more will offer you flexibility.
Here’s visual examples of how I differently present Liz’s brand on Instagram vs on Linkedin.
Tip 7: Develop a Media Kit
A media kit is a branded piece of communication that is used to explain key information about yourself to others. Most companies have a media kit, but there’s also a huge opportunity for personal brands to use them as well. Why? Because a media kit is a way to promote yourself and your accompaniments while also showcasing your personality through branding.
Your personal media kit should contain;
- Resume/Career Stats
- Social Handles
- Contact Info
Little Ghost recently created a media kit for Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC)’s Cassadra Dorrington. We included info about Cassandra’s keynote speeches at women’s conferences as well as noteworthy new articles published about her and the companies she’s worked for. This goes to show your media kit doesn’t have to follow a specific format. Customize it to you and your accomplishments.
Tip 8: Outline a Brand Launch Strategy
Once you’ve finalized your personal brand identity, the next step is determining how you’ll roll it out to market.
There’s several ways you can do this, which you can read in my post 3 Strategies For Launching Your Brand This Year where I share detailed advice on the most effective ways to launch your brand.
But when it comes to a personal brand as a female CEO or entrepreneur, I suggest you prioritise rolling out these three items first:
- Redesigned business cards, cover letter and resume — This is an easy and effective place to start as it’s a personal brand touchpoint that will help you engage with the right people. Make a conscious effort to update your other touchpoints with your new personal brand as well, such as your email signature, invoices, etc..
- Refreshed LinkedIn, Instagram and other social channels — You can have fun here and use the photos from your shoot or designed graphics for your social profile and header images. You can even go as far as investing in customizable social post templates, as I built for The Ferocious Liz.
- Launch a small personal brand site or landing page — Use a simple website builder such as Squarespace to get your personal brand to market quick. A website makes things official and allows you to easily build out brand messaging that reflects your career goals and objectives. Both my female entrepreneur clients, Kendall from Badass Growth Co. and Ramya Pingali from The Email Studio, launched their personal brands with simple Squarespace websites.
So remember, whatever your personal brand is about, remain consistent and authentic. When you professionally own your brand, your skill set will speak for itself. And I’m confident new opportunities will quickly present themselves.
Whether you’re politically charged, passionate about social justice or striving to build the next great brand — a personal brand can help you reach that next career goal.
If you’re a female entrepreneur or female CEO ready to take that next step, I’d love to hear from you! All groundbreaking ideas have to start somewhere and together I hope we can make those dreams of yours a reality