Finding Your Brand Pillars

Traditional marketing has led us to believe that all of our marketing efforts need to be formal and professional in order to be taken seriously.

It tells us that we need to be marketing our product or service, and nothing else.

It is ingrained within us that if we show even an ounce of personality in our marketing – whether it be through telling a joke, dropping a well-placed curse word, or even just referencing our families – that our audience will not take us seriously and therefore will not purchase from us.

If that’s your belief, then listen closely because I am CALLING YOU OUT!

In the 21st century, people are looking for connection. It’s why we spend so much time texting, on social media, and even working at coffee shops. We want to feel connected with those around us! 

And that’s why I’m here: to help you develop your own personal brand and form a genuine connection with your audience.

Brand Pillars

One of my favorite ways to ensure that you are building a well-rounded personal brand is to develop 5 brand pillars to rotate through and share with your audience. Five is my official recommendation (because that number allows you to make one post for every day of the week and never have the same topic back-to-back), though you can flex that a little bit. 

These brand pillars are meant to help you begin to build a connection with your audience. You want them to view you as a person, not just a business, because people buy from people! 

Think of your online presence as less of an advertisement, and more of a visual editorial piece from a magazine that’s all about you and your brand.

If you are coming from a place of strictly using your social media or website for marketing, this may come as a challenge for you. You may be tempted to make all five of your pillars directly related to the product or service that you offer… but remember, we’re doing this so that your audience can get to know you! Not all of your pillars will serve every member of your audience, but each one will serve its own specific purpose in your overall personal brand.

I want you to be aware that as you develop these pillars and begin to share about them, your audience may be temporarily confused, especially if you have previously only marketed your business on that platform. But if you stay consistent and genuine, you will build an audience of adoring fans!

Finding Your Brand Pillars

Finding your brand pillars can seem like an overwhelming task. After all, you’re essentially choosing only 5 things to talk about online, right? 

The great news is that your pillars can be as broad or as narrow as you want.

For example, my 5 brand pillars are-

  1. Branding and my business
  2. Motherhood and home life
  3. Mental health
  4. Hand lettering
  5. Disney

Though those may seem narrow, look at how much I can flesh each one out:

  1. Branding and my business: market research, sharing previous design work, sharing client testimonials, teaching posts, branding before-and-afters
  2. Motherhood and home life: pictures around the house, iced coffee, my family, my cats, my home office
  3. Mental health: check-in posts, talking about good and bad days, quotes about mental health, tips for getting through a bad anxiety/depression day
  4. Hand lettering: completed work, in-progress work, products I have created, videos and time-lapses, favorite quotes
  5. Disney: Walt Disney quotes, pictures from my trips, tips and tricks, asking questions about travel

There are 24 ideas right there – more than a whole month of social media posts, just from 3 minutes of brainstorming! 

As a caveat – I am very open about my mental health and discuss my anxiety and depression openly. You absolutely are not obligated to over-share about your personal life or talk about anything that you’re not comfortable with! The idea is to give your audience a realistic idea of who you are outside of your business, so that they know what they’re getting into should they decide to work with you.

Anyone spending the day in-person with me would undoubtedly hear about those 5 topics, so they are the perfect brand pillars for me!

So, how do you find your brand pillars?

Think of 5-10 things you love and/or think you’re known for and write them down below. Don’t overthink it, just write the first things that come to mind. 

(Having trouble? Head into your phone’s photos to see what things you photograph the most often! That’s often a really good indicator!)

As an added exercise, ask several people who know you well to do the same – writing down things that they think of when they think about you.

After you have collected answers from all of your people, write down their answers. Next, go through and highlight all of the things that show up multiple times. Pay special attention to anything that was mentioned by multiple people that you didn’t write down yourself, and also things that you wrote down yourself that nobody else mentioned.

Next, choose the 5 most common themes that you see throughout your list. Ask yourself if those things are truly representative of what you want to be known for. If not, keep going down the list! Remember, you don’t have to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable.

What now?

I hear you – “Rebecca, I’ve done all this work to find my brand pillars and my brand voice… but now what?!”

Now, my friend, comes the hardest part: implementation! I want you to use your content ideas and schedule 1 week of social media posts that show your personality to your audience. Remember that they may not be receptive at first; after all, they may have never seen anything like this from you before!

As you get more and more comfortable sharing, your brand pillars may shift a bit… and that’s totally fine! As long as you are gradually pivoting in your personal branding, the majority of your audience should be willing to come along for the ride with you.

If you feel lost throughout this process, remember your brand pillars and go back to your content ideas. It’s perfectly okay to tell the same story over and over again because it engrains it in your audience’s memories. And remember – it’s all about the connection with your audience. They want to get to know you – the real you.