You founded a startup. Own it.
Your name is on the door. So, make it shine. Building a personal brand is just as important as the company itself, if not more.
After all, you are the face of your company. You’re the leader, and it’s up to you to ensure people appreciate, recognize and trust you.
What’s a Founder Brand?
It’s the culmination of all the strategies and actions you take as a founder to establish yourself as an authoritative figure in your industry.
It’s more than a personal brand; it’s an image that reflects your company’s mission, values, and objectives. It’s about creating an identity people can associate with your brand or product.
So, how do you create a founder brand that stands out? Here are seven tips:
#1. Define Your Niche
The first step to building a strong founder brand is defining your niche. What makes you different? What sets you apart from the other founders in your industry?
What unique perspective or insights do you have that no one else does? Find your niche and own it.
It could be that you’re the youngest founder in your space or have an unconventional problem-solving approach. Whatever it is, there has to be something that sets you apart from the other founders in your industry.
Find your unique edge and communicate it clearly in all your branding efforts.
#2. Establish a Strong Online Presence
These days, if you’re not online, you don’t exist. The curious minds of the digital world want to learn more about your company through you.
You want to start by creating a website and social media profiles that reflect your company’s aesthetics and values.
Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile emphasizing your professional accomplishments and experiences. Additionally, don’t be afraid to use other platforms like YouTube or Medium to further boost your digital presence.
You want to use all these channels to showcase your expertise, thought leadership, and company culture.
You also want to react and comment on other people’s posts, especially those of people you look up to.
#3. Network with Key People
Networking is key to building a strong personal brand.
It’s about building relationships with the right people.
You want to start by researching who the key players are in your industry. List who you want to network with, and start interacting with them.
Follow them on Twitter, comment on their blogs, and offer to chat about relevant topics.
Don’t forget to attend startup events and conferences to meet other founders. It’s an excellent opportunity to get exposure, share ideas, and build relationships with influential people in the industry.
#4. Gain Thought Leadership
Don’t be dormant. To be seen as a thought leader, learn to speak up.
Share your knowledge and insights by writing blogs or articles on relevant topics.
You can also give talks and presentations or participate in podcasts and interviews. All these efforts will help you establish yourself as an expert in your field and gain visibility.
The topics you choose must align with your personal brand. It should resonate with your target audience and reflect your company’s values.
#5. Be Consistency
Everything, from your messaging, tone, visuals, and content, should be consistent across all channels.
You want to keep your branding uniform to ensure people recognize and trust you. A brand that’s all over the place will come across as unreliable and untrustworthy.
Here are some of the things you want to be consistent with:
- Your bio and profile photo
- Messaging and tone of voice
- Visuals (logo, colour scheme, font)
- Content topics
Your story is your currency. People want to know who you are, what drives you, and why you started your company.
You want to start by writing a compelling Founder Story highlighting your experiences and successes.
Share stories of how you overcame challenges, why you became an entrepreneur, and what your company stands for.
These stories will give people a glimpse of the real you and help them connect with you on an emotional level.
#7. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
You have to put yourself out there if you want to build a strong founder brand.
You must be willing to take risks, experiment with new things and make mistakes. You’ll learn a lot by stepping out of your comfort zone.
That could mean launching a new project, speaking at an event, or trying something you’ve never done before.
You could even start a podcast or YouTube channel where you interview other founders and talk about your experiences.
If nothing else, consider it an opportunity to learn something new and expand your network.
#8. Be Authentic
Above all, be yourself. You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. People can tell when you’re not authentic, so be honest and genuine with your content, and don’t be afraid to show your vulnerable side.
Be confident in who you are and what you stand for. Don’t be afraid to share your views if you have an opinion on something and a strong feeling about it.
Your goal should be to build relationships with people who share the same values and can relate with you.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through and be yourself—it’s the best way to build a strong founder brand.
#9. Monitor and Measure
You want to track your progress to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.
Monitor and measure your efforts to see what’s working and what needs improvement.
Analyze your website traffic, track your followers, and look at engagement metrics such as likes, shares, and comments.
Use these insights to refine your strategy and make necessary adjustments.
#10. Have Fun
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun. Building a founder brand is an exciting journey with many opportunities to have fun along the way.
Loosen up, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with your content, be creative, and experiment with new things.
Have a few tongue-in-cheek jokes up your sleeve, or use a bit of sarcasm to get the message across.
Don’t be afraid to show your playful side. It’ll make you stand out and give your brand an extra dose of personality.
7 Content Ideas to Help Build Your Founder Brand
#1: Share Your Milestone
It’s the small wins that count. Celebrate your milestones and share them with your followers, from launching a new product to landing a big client.
#2. Share Some of the Lessons You’ve Learned
Write about the things you’ve learned from your journey as an entrepreneur. Share tips and advice on managing a business, dealing with challenges, and getting the most out of life.
#3. Showcase Behind-the-Scenes Moments
Don’t just focus on the finished product. Show people what it’s like behind the scenes and give them an inside look at your day-to-day life.
Let people in on the development process in case of a SaaS project. If it’s a physical product, show them how it’s made and tell them the story behind each step.
#4. Talk About Your Missions and Inspirations
You can talk about your mission or what inspires you, why you started your business, and what you hope to achieve.
#5. Company POV
What’s your angle on today’s biggest topics? Share your thoughts and opinions on the industry, trends, current events, and more.
#6. Conversation Starter
Get people talking! Start conversations on topics related to your business or industry. Ask questions, share stories, and get feedback from your followers. That is a great way to get people engaged and build relationships.
#7. Don’t Kill Your Personality
Are you the goofy type? A little bit cheeky? Let your personality shine through. Don’t be afraid to show your true self. It will make you stand out and help you build relationships with the right people.
#9. A Little Philanthropy
Show your commitment to making a difference and give back. It could be anything from donating money to a charity, volunteering for a cause, or launching an initiative of your own. That is a great way to be part of something bigger and inspire others to get involved.
#10. Share Your Product and Some of Its Features
If you’ve created a product or service, share it! Show what makes it unique, overview its features, and explain why it’s the perfect solution for your customers. And above all, make sure you’re proud of it.
Benefits of Building a Founder Brand
Why do you need a founder brand in the first place?
Here are some of the benefits:
#1. Trust and Authority
When people trust you, they trust your company. Building a founder brand can help you establish yourself as an authority in your industry while also helping you build credibility with potential customers.
#2.Easy to Get Featured in the Media
People love to hear stories, and the media loves to feature inspiring entrepreneurs. Having a strong founder brand can help get you noticed and increase your chances of getting featured in the press.
#3. Build Your Network
A strong founder brand allows you to build relationships and grow your network. You can reach out to influencers, potential customers, partners, and more.
Your founder brand will clearly articulate who you are, what you stand for, and what makes you unique. It will help you stand out, build trust with potential customers, and open doors to new opportunities.
#4. Increase Your Visibility
A strong founder brand will increase your visibility, allowing you to reach more people. You can use social media, press and media appearances, podcasts, and more to share your story and get the word out about your brand.
#5. A Lasting Platform
Your business will evolve, but your founder’s brand will remain unchanged. You may even start multiple businesses in the future, with your founder brand providing an anchor of consistency.
#6. Attract the Right Audience
A strong founder brand will attract the right people and repel those who don’t fit. You can focus on building relationships with the people who truly connect with your story and values.
#7. Deeper Connection with Customers
Founder brands showcase confidence and creativity. They give potential customers a glimpse into the person behind the brand, allowing them to form a deeper connection with you, your mission, and your business.
7 Steps to Building a Compelling Founder Brand
Building a founder brand takes time, creativity, and dedication. Here are seven steps to get you started:
Step #1. Lay Your Foundation
The first step to building a compelling founder brand is to lay the foundation. Everything you do from here on out should be rooted in your business objectives, goals, and values.
Authenticity is the key here. Be honest about who you are, what drives you, and why you’re passionate about your business.
A common misconception people tend to have is that you should create a persona when building a brand. But the truth is, you are your brand, so don’t try to be someone else.
Your authentic self is enough to bring your founder brand to life. The idea is that your founder brand should reflect your skills, values, passions, beliefs, and vision.
So, how do you get started?
Take an Inventory of Your Existing Brand Assets
To build a strong founder brand, you must take stock of your existing brand assets. What do you already have in place?
What are some of your strengths?
What sets you apart from the competition?
Your Skills and Credentials
What skills have you acquired throughout your career? What credentials do you have under your belt? List all the skills, experience, and certifications that give your brand the credibility it needs.
Have you been featured in any publications or industry events? Did you win any awards or accolades? These tiny details can help bring your brand to life and create a more compelling story.
Your Values and Passions
What do you stand for? What are your core values? Your founder brand should be centred around what you care about and are passionate about.
What topics do you enjoy talking about? What problems are you looking to solve with your business? All of this information will help shape your messaging and content.
Your Mission and Vision
What is the mission of your business? What kind of impact do you want to make on the world? Your mission and vision should be the cornerstone of your founder brand.
Your mission should be clear, concise, and meaningful. It should communicate what your brand stands for and why it exists.
The Key Elements of Your Founder Brand Foundation
Once you’ve taken an inventory of your existing brand assets, it’s time to put the pieces together. Here are seven key elements of your founder brand foundation:
Your story should be at the core of your branding. It’s the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else. If you’re the go-to expert in your field, how did you get there?
If your brand deals with technology, what inspired you to get into that industry? What problem pushed you to come up with the solution?
What do you believe in? Do you have a specific set of values or principles? For example, a founder brand focused on sustainability might include values like conservation and sustainability.
Your Brand Message
What key message do you want to communicate? How do you want potential customers to feel when interacting with your brand? If you can only give one piece of advice to your target audience, what would it be?
Your Brand Voice
What voice do you want to use when communicating with your audience? Do you want to be humorous, conversational, or formal?
Do you want to be perceived as playful, authoritative, inspirational, or perhaps more adventurous and quirky? Your brand voice should be consistent across all mediums.
Step #2. Choose Your Target Audience
The biggest mistake you can make is trying to appeal to everyone. Regardless of what you do, you’ll never be everyone’s cup of tea.
You need to know who your ideal client is. Who do you want to target with your brand? How can you best serve them?
As counterintuitive as this may sound, trying to be liked by everyone will only lead to you attracting no one.
Know your ideal client inside out and tailor your message, tone of voice, and visuals to cater to their needs.
Here’re some of the questions you want to ask yourself to develop the perfect client profile:
- Demographics: What’s your clients’ age, gender, level of education, income level, relationship status, profession, etc.?
- Interests: What kind of topics do they care about? Where do they hang out online and offline? What are their interests, hobbies, and aspirations?
- Challenges: What kind of challenges do they face daily? What are their biggest pain points? What are they struggling with?
- Goals: What kind of transformation do they seek when working with someone like you? What are some of their top goals and objectives?
Answering these questions will help you create a more detailed and accurate customer profile and create content that resonates deeply with your target audience.
Step #3: Create an Irresistible Offer
Work on something irresistible that you can offer your followers. It could be a free ebook, webinar, or course.
Your offer should bring value to your target audience, solve a problem or educate them. It should also be well-designed and have an enticing call to action that encourages people to sign up for your email list.
You also want to work on delivering content regularly, whether it’s a weekly blog post or email newsletter.
Find an overlap between what you love doing, what you do best, and what your target audience wants. That will make it easier for you to develop good content ideas for your offer.
We love to call this the Irresistible Offer Formula:
Irresistible Offer Formula = What You Love to Do + What You Do Best + What Your Target Audience Wants the Most
Let’s break it down with an example.
Let’s say you’re an SEO expert and love to do keyword research. You also know that your target audience wants to learn more about keyword research. You can easily create a free ebook covering the basics of keyword research and offer it as part of your irresistible offer.
Step #4: Optimize Your Founder Website
Your website is the hub of all your digital activities. Everything else you do online, such as social media and email, should direct people back to your website.
Your website should be easy to navigate, have all the right elements in place and look professional. It should also feature a strong call to action and compelling content.
Ensure all the essential elements are in place, such as a clear About page, CTA (call to action), and a contact page.
Also, include social proof such as testimonials, reviews, media mentions, and awards.
The Key Elements of Your Website’s Homepage should include:
- A Professional Logo: Get a professional graphic designer to design a logo for your brand. Since you’ll be using your name as the domain, have them creatively combine a silhouette of your image with your name.
- A Clever Tagline: Create a catchy tagline that explains who you are and what you do in just a few words.
For example, if you’re a financial advisor, your tagline could be “Helping you reach financial freedom.”
- Professional Photography: Get a professional photographer to take some great headshots and full-body shots of you. If you’re on a limited budget, get a friend to help you out.
- Your Value Proposition: Your homepage should clearly explain your values, mission, and message. Let people know how working with you benefits them.
- A Strong CTA: Include a strong call to action that encourages visitors to take action. For example, invite people to join your email list, book a call with you, or direct them to a sales page to purchase one of your products or services
One example of a founder brand website is that of author, speaker, and entrepreneur James Clear. His website is an excellent example of how to create an effective home page that includes all the elements we’ve mentioned while grabbing visitors’ attention.
Pages You Can Include:
- A blog page to showcase your latest posts
- An about page to tell visitors more about you
- A Product/Service Page to showcase what you have to offer
- Content/Free Resources page to offer helpful content for visitors
- Videos & Multimedia page to showcase your videos and podcasts
- Contact Page to give visitors an easy way to get in touch
- Testimonials page to showcase the success of your clients and customers
Step #5: Work On Your Content Strategy
Your founder brand is nothing without a good content strategy. Instead of telling your audience what you can do, create content that guides them through the different decision-making processes.
Create content that shows your expertise, shares stories and ideas educates people on topics related to your field, and entertains.
Be sure to create helpful and relevant content for your target audience. After that, you want to share it on your website, social media, email list, and any other platform you use to reach them.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner, Answer the Public, Buzzsumo, and other tools to research keywords and discover popular topics in your niche.
Once you have the topics listed, create a content plan outlining what kind of content you’ll create, when and where you’ll publish it, and how to promote it.
Common Content Types:
- Online courses
- Case studies
- PDF guides, worksheets, checklists
You don’t need to create all of these content pieces. But aim to create a variety to get the most out of your content marketing efforts.
Common Content Mediums:
- Your website/blog
- Social media
- Email list
- Medium/LinkedIn Pulse
- Guest blogging
- Forums (Reddit, Quora, Stack Overflow, etc.)