In times of uncertainty, people look to leaders for guidance and assurance. Does your personal branding convey your leadership prowess? This month, we seek insight from personal brand strategist, coach, and speaker Aaja Corinne Magee, who specializes in brand identity development and communications. She also partners with clients to bring synergy to their purpose and profession, positioning them to create impact on a greater scale. Here, Magee breaks down personal branding for purpose-driven leaders and entrepreneurs, and explains how doing it correctly, sets you apart:
ILS: What is personal branding and why is it so important?
Magee: Personal branding is how you control the narrative about you. It’s an extremely important activity because decisions are made about you based on the perception that others have of you. Controlling your narrative is how you influence the perception of you.
Jeff Bezos is coined as saying, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Through strategic and intentional messaging that shows itself through your online presence and persona, communication style, personal appearance, visual brand, and more, you are able to send a clear message about who you are and give the world the talking points that they should run with concerning you. If you’re effective with personal branding, how you ultimately live in the minds of others will mirror how you desire to be perceived, as well as how you need to be perceived to become the undeniable choice.
ILS: What are some common mistakes you see when it comes to personal branding for leaders and entrepreneurs?
Magee: One of the biggest personal branding mistakes I see with leaders and entrepreneurs is communicating on the level of what they do as opposed to communicating who they are. If you solely communicate what you do, you’ll feel all over the place when you tap into anything other than that one thing. You also won’t have the personal clarity to show up confidently as the full you, because you don’t know how to convey clarity about who you are to others. Finding the message that encompasses all gives the multigifted and multitalented person room to shift with the season and to evolve without compromising their message or people’s understanding of who they are.
Communicating who you are will allow you to have a constant element even when your platform or method of delivering your purpose changes.
Another personal branding mistake I see from entrepreneurs, in particular, is forsaking their personal brands while investing in their business brands. The business is only one means to an end. Understanding that it is a part of a bigger picture will reveal more options as it relates to how you can express your purpose in service to others. Personal branding allows you the benefits of building equity in your name, which powers your business, and makes successful pivots possible and easier. When you invest in building your personal brand, you don’t have to build from scratch every time because you leverage the weight of your name.
ILS: How can faith leaders use personal branding to excel in both ministry and the marketplace?
Magee: Personal branding allows faith leaders to establish their platforms and become known for something. The commonality between all faith leaders is the call to deliver the message of Jesus Christ in some capacity. Personal branding creates the distinction between one ministry to the next to help others better understand your unique characteristics, message, and assignment. Different people are drawn to different things, so personal branding is essential to building a community that would be most impacted by your specific calling.
As it relates to excelling in the marketplace, personal branding is a way for faith leaders to communicate their value and expertise in ministry and beyond, which is necessary to position them as the “go-to” and will serve as a catalyst for marketplace success.
ILS: What are the top three things entrepreneurs can do to position themselves to be the undeniable choice in their fields?
Magee: First, you must be able to clearly articulate your purpose, value, and difference. After that, you focus in on who you were created to serve; and finally, let go of “can do” and lean into “called to do.”
ILS: If entrepreneurs find themselves in a branding rut, what is the first step they should take?
Magee: To be in a branding rut means that you are challenged with communicating your unique value and difference. I recommend that you go back to the basics of who you are and why you were created. Take inventory of what you have: both tangible and intangible. Get clear on your value and whom that value is for. Create a solution and/or decide to be a solution. Make sure that your messaging clearly articulates all of the aforementioned. Be consistent in your pursuit; listen intently to what people find most impactful about you, your work, and/or your products and services; refine your messaging and offers in consideration of that, and be willing to keep trying until you get it right.
ILS: Outside of social media, how can entrepreneurs grow their business and develop a relationship with their target audience?
Magee: Personally, while social media is the low-hanging fruit for creating brand awareness, without personal touch and emotional connection, it can be like talking to the air. Getting people to engage with you and take action with you is a result of you adding value to their lives in some way.
I recommend that entrepreneurs serve their way to influence. At the beginning stages, especially, entrepreneurs need to be actively reaching out to their target audience, having conversations, and learning their ins and outs. This will make general marketing more effective, because you know how to speak the language of “your person” to attract more people like them.
Additionally, you would’ve built a relationship that could potentially yield you new business and access points in the future. Plus, if you’ve wowed them, you’ll have a testimonial that you can use for marketing purposes, as well as a new raving fan who will potentially utilize you again themselves.
As an entrepreneur, know that you can’t skip steps. Sustainability requires that you build brick by brick. Show up consistently, postured to serve. Operate with integrity. Be excellent. Repeat.
ILS: Let’s switch gears. Your tagline says, “Competition doesn’t exist when you align your brand with purpose.” How does one know that their brand is in alignment with purpose?
Magee: Alignment is the sense that how you are showing up is rooted in why God created you. Alignment also leaves clues. People who operate in purpose have the fruit to show for it, and their impact is on another level. Alignment is a process, and daily, you inch closer. More flow, less toil is also an indicator of being aligned with purpose. And, in that place, there is no competition because the grace on your life for that thing is without question.
ILS: In a culture where most people want success instantly, why is it so important to pursue purpose more than anything?
Magee: Purpose has longevity. It doesn’t go out of style. It will also give you relevance. It’s of high value. Purpose equates to guaranteed success because it’s full of God’s assignments. He created you to complete a mission; so operating in His purpose, success is the only outcome.
About Aaja Corinne Magee
Aaja Corinne Magee is regarded as an authority on personal branding, professional presence, and style. She is frequently hired by corporations, globally recognized brands, and prestigious colleges and universities to educate diverse audiences on those subject matters.
Most recently, she debuted Purpose Potential Podcast, a weekly series that explores the realities of walking out your God-given purpose, as well as practical and biblical insights to help you live life in authenticity and alignment.