2021 has been the year to shake off the 2020 doldrums and put a laser sharp focus on your personal branding. Deloitte’s Global Marketing Trends 2021 report tells us that trust and brand loyalty are becoming more intertwined, as customers reward companies that meet their needs authentically and holistically. And understanding and meeting those needs is done through your personal branding.
8 Personal Branding Trends of 2021
1. Content creation to thought leadership
According to market industry analyst, Technavio, the content marketing industry is set to grow by USD269.24 billion during the period between 2020 and 2024. Add this to the projected USD313 billion the industry will be worth by the end of the year, and that brings the market size to a whopping USD582 billion by 2024.
Like any industry that has experienced massive growth, people begin to outsource. But once industry leaders outsource their content creation, they forget to keep up with their own thinking. Once they lose this humanness of experience, their content becomes just noise.
Outsourcing is part of the cost of scaling your brand – but losing your viewpoint is not. Instead of focusing on your content creation, you need to step into your own thought leadership and focus on your own pioneering thinking.
2. The rise of the micro-influencer
Micro-influencers have 50,000 or less followers, but they’re highly engaged and extremely loyal. Micro-influencers are incredibly tight on their branding and are creating thought leadership with their opinions and ideas. It goes far beyond just posting an image for a payday.
These influencers are particularly influential in the B2B space, but the key is to find someone that is authentically aligned with your product or service. For example, A couple of years ago I was approached by a headphone company whose main competitor was Apple AirPods. This was a great fit for me because AirPods didn’t work in my ears as my ears were too small, and I wore headphones during most of my digital work. They fitted me and I fitted them – and that’s authentic.
3. Be an intrapreneur
Intrapreneurs are essentially people that have an entrepreneurial mindset within an organisation. Historically, employees of an organisation are looking to conform to the norms and culture of that entity and, as a result, lose a certain level of creativity. However, organisations today are looking for creativity, innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. They’re looking for intrapreneurs.
One of my clients is an expert in talent management for a global national organisation. Though he’s an employee of that company, he’s very creative within his expertise. He writes blogs, leads communications and looks for ways to drive innovations within the business. He doesn’t want his own business, but he works within the company as if it’s his own. And this has the effect of elevating the entire organisation.
4. The power of communities
Communities have always been a big part of building your personal brand. But as more and more content is produced, people are becoming less able to cope. They don’t know where to go for answers or where to look for guidance. So, they begin to gravitate toward the experts they trust.
In essence, people are looking for a translator. Someone that can make sense of the noise, so they can understand what they need to, and feel confident disregarding the rest. And that is where your community begins.
5. Digital First
In the past, a large part of personal branding trends have been digital. But it wasn’t uncommon for your first contact with a potential lead to be face-to-face. 2020 changed that. Now, your first and sometimes only contact will be digital. And that means putting digital first in your branding.
Today you need to be constantly considering your digital impressions. Where are people interacting and engaging with you? What do your ongoing communications look like? There’s been a huge rise in things like online summits, so as a brand you need to really understand how to present yourself in those situations as well as in more mundane digital experiences, such as Zoom calls.
6. Humanisation and brand personality
In 2021, brands will be expected to create a greater sense of humanness and belonging with their customers. They can do this by bringing in the identity of the people that work within their brand. Generally, this is done via storytelling.
For example, a dog products brand might share stories of the business owner and her own dog. A copywriter might share her favourite books. And a travel brand might share recipes from around the globe. Whatever stories bring in the human side of your brand is important because they’ll help you connect with others.
YouTube is the largest search engine after Google. 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
When people can hear your voice, they tap into an emotional connection that tells them that you’re like them and that you’ll get them. Some of this comes from the accent you speak with and your word choice. And some of it comes from the other subconscious cues we emanate when we speak. But all this coalesces into a feeling of validation for your audience and tells them they like you and can trust you.
8. Selling brand ‘you’
2020 saw a massive influx of people on freelancing and ‘gig’ sites such as Upwork and Fiverr. In fact, a new Upwork study found that 36% of the US workforce freelanced during the COVID pandemic.
Most of the new members of the gig economy haven’t had to ‘sell’ themselves before. So, the future of personal branding and personal branding trends begin to revolve a bit around the question of ‘how do you sell you?’
Selling brand ‘you’ isn’t that different from selling anything else. You have to stand out. You have to demonstrate what makes you unique and different from your competitors. And you have to engage your audience and grow your pipeline. These 8 steps will hopefully make it easier for you to sell you.
Love to know your thoughts on personal branding trends…
Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert, speaker and the author of seven books including the upcoming Catalyst Content. She has over 20 years of experience helping people to communicate confidently. And she is obsessed with authentic influence and human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. Jane delivers Content Creation Bootcamps (Virtual and Face to Face), Coaching and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.