One of the most magical brand experiences I’ve ever had was last summer at Essence Fest in NOLA *sheds a couple quarantine tears reminiscing and wishing COVID hadn’t cancelled my plans for this year*. I can recall being so fascinated because I had never been in such an empowering love fest of black women, black beauty, black entrepreneurship, black music, and overall unapologetic black culture.…
I FELT DAT!
I FELT ESSENCE…THE BRAND! It was the #BlackGirlMagic experience of a lifetime. Now every time I see an Essence magazine or logo, I’m reminded of one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
During Essence I went to an OWN Network day party, and although Oprah wasn’t there, I FELT OPRAH. YES, I FELT THE OPRAH EFFECT. The upscale red-carpet element, top level media coverage, BFF Gayle King and numerous other superstar entertainers in attendance from her network and the industry – all spoke to a “Billion Dollar Black Empowered Women Media Mogul” party and production. Even without her physical presence…OPRAH’S elevated production quality, emotional feel good, and full-scale brand experience was felt like I was right in one of her studio sets sitting on the couch with her.
Then when I met Nas at a Bevel Essence Fest Pop Up and had a conversation with him, it felt EXACTLY the way he’s made me feel on his street disciple/urban scholar poetic hip hop albums. I FELT NAS…like he and I were sitting on one of the very Queensbridge projects park benches he probably came up with dozens of his first raps on. In that enlightening convo I FELT NAS…and everything about his personal brand that says hip hop warrior for the culture.
PERSONAL BRAND…PLAIN & SIMPLE
I go down this Essence Fest memory lane to say – ULTIMATELY YOUR BRAND IS THE WAY PEOPLE FEEL AFTER EXPERIENCING YOUR BRAND. Essence, Oprah and Nas made me feel a way about an experience with their brands that I will never forget.
Before creating your own Essence Fest that attracts hundreds of thousands of people, or any business platform for that matter, your personal brand begins with how you make people feel TODAY.
“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business, and how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.”
I want to take all the mystery out of building a personal brand. A great personal brand is all about making people feel the magic of an unforgettable experience.
And here’s the simple 5W questions of Who, What, Why, Where & When to building a personal brand you can share with the world.
5 W’s TO BUILDING A PERSONAL BRAND
The 1st “Who” question you must answer is “Who are you?” and “Who will you be to the world as a source of influence?” This is one of the deepest questions you can ask yourself – WHO AM I? Literally ask yourself this question 20 times back to back.
For me when I asked this question – “Mother” is initially the most resounding answer in my head. So being a Mommy Influencer is very important to me – because being a Bad Azz Mommy that can do anything in the world for my kids like a supermom is what I aspire to be every day.
Yet, my influencer career launched when I became aware of Who I was beyond just a mother and wife. I am resilient, I am a warrior, I am crazy/sexy/cool (yes, I am the 4th member of TLC lol). I am a motivator, and I am a woman of power. Hell, I am a superwoman. But even greater than all that…what stood out in my self-discovery process to building my own brand was becoming aware that at my purest and best I AM LOVE. LOVE with a whole lotta STYLE
Hence…I AM SARA LOVESTYLE!
Repeatedly ask yourself “WHO AM I?” Contemplate on this question and give yourself a personal brand name that makes your feel like your greatest self. In some cases, this may be your actual name, or a play off it.
The 2nd Who is “Who will you create a unique experience for?” Who will be your target audience? Who will be your ride or die TRIBE?” You can start with one person. Who’s the one person that would love to experience you for who you are as a personal brand influencer? If it’s your best friend, they are now your target customer profile. Let them read all your blog drafts, review your influencer ideals, and test your product if releasing one.
“I could give it to you, but what you gonna do with it”
I can’t remember what rapper’s lyrics this is, but I know it was during my “back that thang up” era. But after determining “Who You Are” within your personal brand, you have to determine “What brand experience will you create for your tribe.”
A good question to ask is “What will you offer that your target customer can’t get anywhere else.” A tough question, but real. There are countless amounts of products to buy and people to follow, so what will you do to make your platform and experience the most preferred for a certain niche segment of the population.
The good thing about your what is that people will often tell you what that is you’re an expert at that they most want an experience from you on. What do people compliment you or seek you out the most for?
For me I discovered that my unique niche was fitness and creating an ideal regimen for thick women like me who wanted an hourglass coke bottle shape. I became an expert at this because after experiencing a heart attack at 23 years old, I was committed to working out 5 days a week. In doing so I was able to transform my body naturally, and my workouts and pics I posted became an inspiration for so many other women and moms looking to reclaim their best lives.
It wasn’t long before my cooking repertoire showcased on IG Stories began getting traction, and I pivoted to elevating my personal brand presence as a celebrity chef. This allowed me to do some magical pop ups in creating unforgettable fine dining brand experiences.
Then during the quarantine as I began to release free cookbooks and fitness workout regimens, more of my followers began to inquire how I created so much good content on IG and my website. After answering countless DMs for helping others become influencers, I discovered a demand creating personal brand coaching services. This has tapped into a deep calling of mine, because I love to share tips I have been able to level up with as a personal brand, to help others level up and win big too! Baby we can all eat – literally as long we do a good workout afterwards, but most importantly aspirational!
In Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why,” he said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” That is why your WHY IS EVERYTHING? My purpose is why I keep going.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love passion. My definition of a “Lovestyle” is “Your passionate way of celebrating your sole reason for being alive.” But passion and purpose ARE NOT synonymous. Passions alone are things I enjoy that can be momentary and typically its with an emotional response. But the purpose is your why. The purpose is what makes your Lovestyle fly and mean everything in the world.
As an influencer I have found that I have remained consistent with my personal brand for the most part because my WHY doesn’t allow me to stop.
Whether that’s with my fitness goals – which started because of my desire to not have another heart attack so I can live for my children and also live for myself. When I can be purposeful and intentional creatively, which for me means I’m being impactful, that’s what keeps me going. Your worth and your magic isn’t in someone else believing in you but you believing and aspiring to be your best self-daily. The coaching part of my brand launched because I understood that my gifts could help someone else.
A great way to discover your why is to take your main personal brand “What I Do” activity and ask yourself Why three times. Upon the third why to the deeper asking of the question, you normally have a WHY that comes from your core! It’s so engraved in your soul you have to fulfill it.
Where will you connect with you tribe? Where will they be able to find you? Where will your brand experience take place? Which social media platform will drive this engagement with your ideal tribe?
Facebook is usually for a more mature adult audience most connected to you through family, friends and extended networks. Instagram is LIT and for high engagement for more of the teen, young and mature adult audience. TikTok is for the straight Gen Z and millennials, although growing rapidly. Twitter for showcasing more thought leadership, LinkedIn for professionals and networking, and YouTube for more search originated longer format video engagements – to name a few.
It’s important to identify one platform as the priority in which you will put the majority of your energy, engagement and resources into. Then leverage this priority platform to build laterally across the other platforms for which you can expand your tribe.
START NOW! If you wait for the perfect time it won’t come. How many times have we told ourselves ok I’ll start Monday? But honestly is there a difference between tomorrow and next Monday. Heck no, so just start. Do some research on the digital search campuses of YouTube or Google University. Remember everyone starts somewhere, and it’s not going to be perfect.
The journey is long but making small goals that lead to the larger goal is how personal brand empires are built to last.