At a time when the next best option is just a few simple clicks away, building a
successful online profile is critical for companies and the entrepreneurs behind them. Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward, co-founders of Shine PR and Shine Influencers, share their proven advice for creating a brand image.
By Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward
When we started the Shine PR brand, we were told we were “too girly” to succeed. We launched the business loudly and yet lightly, with a decidedly less corporate- feeling vibe than what people were used to from public relations agencies at the time. Our tone and branding were fun and vibrant, with an Instagram account filled with quotes and colourful imagery — it had a bit of Kate Spade-esque aesthetic to it. The page gained traction, the business began to take off and our refreshing embrace of femininity actually helped us rather than hindered us.
In 2015, we expanded our business with the creation Shine Influencers, and now help our roster define their own brands. Competition has never been fiercer; at a time when the next best option is just a few simple clicks away, building a successful online profile is critical for companies and the entrepreneurs behind them. Whether you have sights of becoming the latest and greatest influencer or are starting a small business and are the face of the company, your personal brand image is a first impression you convey to the world.
Here’s how to get it right:
Conduct an Audit.
If you already have a social media presence, building a successful brand requires a good hard look at your current accounts; they’re probably in need of cleaning up in some capacity. Odds are, at least a handful of photos — perhaps from your younger and clearly more naïve years — will get deleted or relegated to your Instagram “archive” folder. Ask yourself if a photo or status update truly correlates with the image you’re trying to portray. The videos of your sorority sisters chanting their anthems may be cute to you (and your sisters), but perhaps best left as a throwback on a group chat. For an objective eye, ask someone for an honest opinion of your existing social media content.
Do Your Research.
Like any successful endeavour, a strong online presence requires a little initial research. Look into the workings of the ever-changing Internet: ways to gain traction and exposure, how to build databases and followers, and strategic posting times. Define who you want your ideal audience to be (and why) and familiarize yourself with people or brands that engage a similar demographic. What type of content are they creating and what is resonating the most with their audience? Although the last thing you want to be is a copycat — being your unique and authentic self is part of the strategy — studying successful brands and people who have come before you offers valuable insight.
Know the Feel.
Some of the most successful brands are intentional in their “feel,” which keeps followers coming back time and time again for that daily hit of that emotion. When building and maintaining your online brand, consider how you want your audience to feel when consuming your content. Do you want them to feel inspired? Motivated? Curious? Identifying this will help you develop and curate content that is congruent with the core purpose of your personal brand. Once you identify this, consider how everything from your imagery to your tone will reflect this.
Establish Your Voice.
It’s important to have a distinctive voice — and use it. Your voice could be intellectual, inspirational, motivational, sassy, funny, sarcastic, lighthearted or spiritual. Whatever your voice is, it’s important to try to be consistent online across all of your platforms — having multiple personalities won’t do you any favours. In addition to a uniform voice, your social media name or handle should be as consistent as possible across all of your social media accounts both for brand cohesiveness and so others can find you easily.
Consider Content Structure.
Having consistent content pillars is the final component. While it’s great to try new things and grow with your community of followers, it’s also beneficial to articulate what topics you’re covering and make them your staples. For example, if you’re a nutritionist, perhaps every Monday you post about a different fruit or vegetable, explain the health benefits and give a recipe on how to incorporate it into your week. Followers will find the content helpful and start to come back consistently to see what the next week’s recipe will be.
Build Your Personal Brand.
Have a clear focus as to what your brand represents; the easiest way to do so is to focus on what you’re knowledgeable and passionate about, whether that means travel, sports, entertainment or mindfulness. It seems self-explanatory, but it couldn’t be more important. Don’t become an “overnight expert” in something you clearly aren’t well versed in; the online world can sniff out that type from a mile away. Your community will appreciate the relatability of you discovering a new passion more than you trying to know more than you do. People follow personal brands because they want the real experience, so remember to be honest and recognize your faults if you make a misstep. In general, remember that your social channels are an extension of you; not the other way around.
Melbourne native Jess Hunichen launched her entrepreneurial career in 2008 with
Honey PR, an influential boutique agency. After a successful stint in TV, she arrived
in Canada in 2014 and became an independent communications consultant before
launching the Shine brand in partnership with Emily Ward that same year. Emily is
a public relations consultant with fifteen years of agency experience, working with
brands like Pilsner Urquell, Sol Cuisine, Vegas Tourism, Ontario’s Finest Hotels, Inns
& Spas, and Kraft Foodservice.