Hey, AJ Vaden here. Just making a quick pop in here to talk about something that has been on the top of my mind for hmm, 15 years. I’m not exaggerating. It’s literally been on my mind for 15 years. And it’s on the lines of this concept of building your personal brand, which, you know, to me is just an extension of your reputation. But I feel like there’s a lot of misconception out there about what is a personal brand and people associate personal branding with influencers and social media followers and you know, all the things that you would think about with having an online presence and a podcast and a website and a blog and all the things. And those things are good. Don’t get me wrong. We talk a lot about those things at Brand Builders Group and here I am making a content video for social media and or podcast and a blog.
So don’t get, don’t hear what I’m not saying here. Those things are good and valuable and important, but those are not a personal brand. They’re just not. A personal brand is the formalization of what you wanna be known for and who you want to be known by. It’s the formalization and digitization of your reputation in a way that helps you get out there and become the go-to expert in your space, both online and offline. But again, personal branding, it’s just an extension of your reputation. It’s the intentional desire of becoming known for what you want to be known for. That is a personal brand. But what comes along with that is once those things are formalized as well, how do I get this message? How do I display my content, what I have to say, who I wanna be out into the world? And that’s where it gets a little muddied, right?
Because then we, we get confused that somehow personal branding is all about social media and it’s not. Or we think that branding is all about visual identity and websites and colors and fonts and it’s not. We think that it only has to do with content creation. It doesn’t, those are all pieces and parts of the puzzle here. But there is a, a piece of this puzzle that I wanna specifically talk about today which is the visual identity part, because that is where people get hung up and they get consumed. And it’s what most often stops you in your tracks because you’re so concerned with what it looks like. You forget that you’re actually doing this to help somebody. You get so consumed with how many likes or followers or subscribers that you get that you forget that people who did see it and who did have an it that or who did you did impact.
You forget that those people are real live human beings on the other side of your screen. Or you get so obsessed with doing so many speaking engagements or book deals or whatever that you forget, like you are making an impact with one person and that is worth it, that’s worth it. But back to this concept of visual identity, there are so many EMA emotions that are tied up in, well, what is my brand gonna look like? That that is what the whole concept of personal branding becomes about. And so I was sitting down with a friend, Nadine, who owns this awesome company called We Are Visual and has another company called Digital Brand Kit. And we were having this conversation because on the journey of building my personal brand over the last 10, 2, 15 years I have never really sat down and spent the time if this tells you anything of really creating my own color palette or a visual identity or font, because I believe that’s just a tiny piece of it.
And at some point you actually need to do those things that, that’s important for you to have this visual representation of who you are and how you want to be a scene in the world. And it’s been a long time coming. And so I’ve been going through this journey and it’s been a really hard process for me. It’s been a really hard thing of going, man, I just don’t know if that’s it. So I was having this conversation with my friend Nadine, and she gave me some key tips that I thought I would pass along to you. So step one here’s what she said. And she is a designer. Do not hire a designer as your first step.
That was so helpful because that’s what you think you need. Oh, I just need to go find someone who can figure out and do this for me. Don’t do that. In fact, as a designer, you know, she’s giving me this. If I don’t hire designers your first step, but instead spend time with your audience, spend time with your content and getting in tune with who do you wanna impact? How do you wanna impact them, and how do they need to be impacted, right? How do they actually want to hear from you? And what is it that they need from you? What is it that they want from you? And how can you really make a difference in the people that you feel like you’re called to make a difference for? So don’t hire a designer. Spend time with your audience. Step number one. So helpful.
Step number two follow truths, not trends. And this was so, so powerful. I’m gonna say that again. Follow truths, not trends. And what she said is, your visual identity is what’s true about you, not what’s trending online or in the market, right? . So I know it’s like, you know, like every season, at least for the women who are listening, you know, there’s some sort of fashion trend that’s going on, right? Right now I think it’s like contoured baggy jeans, right? The whole conversation somebody was talking about over the holiday season was, are skinny jeans coming back? And I was like, I
Don’t know, did they go away? I dunno, , I on skinny jeans right now? Like, did I miss this trend? I’m not sure. And she said, it’s really important because that trends always change. Inevitably they’re going to ebb and flow come and go. And that’s not what you want your visual identity to be about. Just because you know, hot pink or neon is popular in the market doesn’t mean that’s what needs to be in your visual identity or metallics or whatever is trending. Whatever is popular has nothing to do with your visual identity. So follow truths, not trends. And you’ve gotta figure out innately what is it about your content and who you are that can be visually represented that actually connects people to you in a visual manner. Not something that you think is cool that you saw in a restaurant, which is what I was doing.
Taking pictures of colors and restaurants and sending ’em to a designer. Don’t do that. Because you waste time and you’re never going to actually get a visual identity that represents you. So follow truths, not trends. Number three, she said, here’s actually something to and think about when you think about what you actually need when you’re building out your personal brand. And you have to think about what is an actual set of brand guidelines. Because if you work with most designers, a set of brand guidelines is gonna include a logo, a color palette, fonts, maybe some iconography, some typography. But that’s about it. And she goes, if you really think about it, this is what you need. Buckle up. You’re gonna need colors, fonts, logos, you will need iconography. You will need topography, but you are also going to need brand imagery, right?
So those are different types of imagery, not just icons and just visuals. But you’re gonna need like full like photography imagery, right? Think about all the things that people put quotes on and you’re standing behind and all the things. You’re gonna need imagery, you’re gonna need banners for the different social media platforms. Well, they all have different dimensions, so you’re gonna need a different size banner for Facebook versus Instagram versus LinkedIn versus YouTube. You’re gonna need different banners. You, cuz they all have different dimensions. You’re gonna need PowerPoint files. Don’t think about, don’t forget about that. At some point you likely will do a presentation, whether it’s a webinar or a keynote. But what about p d s? Are you gonna have e-books? Are you gonna have any sort of lead magnets or downloads? What about handouts? Will you able to do workshops or will you do something that you hand out in a virtual presentation or a live presentation?
What about your speaker press kit? Will you do any speaking cuz you’re gonna need something where you have formatted for that. What about a webinar kit or a course, right? Are you gonna need imagery for both the, the, you know, like the cover pages of the courses the different files that have you have in the courses the different thumbnails you’re gonna gonna need thumbnails, you’re gonna need ad images if you ever do pay traffic. What about a media kit? Do you have a podcast? Do you need a podcast thumb? Now? Do you need a media kit? Like don’t go to overwhelmed now, right? But if then if you’re getting into video, do you need video bumpers? Do you need video covers? And the list just went on and on and on and I was like, oh my gosh, that is what you have to think about.
And that is where people get stuck. I, instead of pursuing something that has the ability to change your life and to change someone else’s life, we get lost behind all of these things. And so when I was having this conversation with they dean, I mentioned that she owns these awesome two companies. We are visual, which helps you do things custom. But she said this was the whole reason this this conversation she was having with me is the entire reason that she created the company Digital Brand Kit because she has created all of those assets and templates with dozens and dozens of dozens of preset color palettes and imagery and typography and fonts. So that for people like me, they don’t get stuck in this kind of thing. Instead of focusing on my audience and my content and doing what I feel like God put me on earth to do.
I don’t get stuck behind some color wheel, right? And so I just wanna encourage you the same thing. I’ve gotten almost 15 years in my personal brand without having a formal website or brand guidelines or anything like that. And guess what? It’s working out okay. And at the same time, there’s comes up time like for me right now where I wanna do it and it feels right and it feels like the time to do it. But you don’t have to spend 20,000, 50,000, a hundred thousand dollars on this. You don’t have to spend 10,000. In fact, you can spend a thousand or 2000 get to, to get the things that you need. And when you think about where you’re gonna invest your time and your money and your resources, people get overly attached to the visual part of it because we think that’s all that matters.
And I’m just here, I’m living proof to tell you that it’s not I haven’t had one in 15 years. And at the same time, there comes a time where something is important but it’s way more important to figure out the truth behind what’s really important and how you wanna present yourself than spending, you know, tens of thousands of dollars getting something that’s just trendy and cool. And so I don’t know who this is for today, but I know that it was for me. And so I hope it resonates with someone else out there. And shameless plug my friend nabe, if you’re interested in this sort of thing go to brand builders group.com/db k and check out digital brand kits for your own starter brand. And again, it’s like visual identity is important, but it ain’t the whole thing. So just keep on keeping on and keep doing you. We’ll see you next time.