People trust people. Not corporations. Not marketing copies. Not cheesy ads. People

The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that fewer people trust businesses and governments.

It’s why personal branding is important.

Although the strength of your company’s brand is a major predictor of its success, a unique personal brand is just as helpful, if not more. Whereas building an authoritative image around your company will take a big team and sizeable budget, a personal brand is much easier to concretize.

In this article, we will share nine ways you can build an authentic personal brand that will improve your trust advantage and increase your sales:

1: Write with an authentic voice

Building a personal brand really starts with deciding what sort of brand your want for yourself. You could choose to be anything from a selfless industry contributor like Iyin Aboyeji to  a no-nonsense, tough-loving entrepreneur/investor like Jason Njoku. Or a smart good-natured analyst of social economics like Ory Okolloh Mwangi.

After you’ve decided on what your brand would look like, begin to share online with an authentic and honest voice. Write from the heart with no thought to what your readers might think.

The very first step here is to have a blog. Update your blog and write helpful content. People like to laugh, so mild humorous layerings to your posts would be an advantage. Otherwise, useful blog posts will work just fine.

2: Create a strong narrative and share it often

In mid-2016, Nigerian entrepreneur, Sheriff Shittu wrote a heartfelt post. In it, he detailed his 12 years of entrepreneurship in Nigeria, his failures and how he planned to retire because he simply was “exhausted.”

Now, Sheriff shares on Medium often, but this frank post has been the one people connected with the most. More 766 people have recommended the post with 133 responses.

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People love stories. And when you share the series of sacrifices (or none) that make up your personal journey, people connect with it.

At the core of branding, both personal or corporate is trust. Your personal story presents you as another human who had struggled and overcome to keep a company alive. Even when your company has ‘failed’, like with Sheriff’s, a strong narrative could help people see another side to the failure and leave you with a more trustworthy brand.

3. Leave and respond to comments

You build up your domain authority when you contribute on industry blogs. But you don’t need to write a full blown guest post. Leaving comments on the leading industry websites would put your name out as someone who holds sufficient knowledge about a topic.

For you, it could be a way to flesh out new a perspective you’ve gained from a story.

People don’t tell this story enough, but Iyin Aboyeji first shared the idea of Andela in the comments of a 2014 TechCabal post.

The more you comment and respond to comments, the  more people know you and the stronger your brand becomes.

4. Create a recognizable logo for yourself

Logos are important for brands. They create a connection to a brand even without an accompanying marketing copy. It won’t do less for a personal brand. People can connect your name with a logo when you have one.

The human mind is believed to process logos in around 13 milliseconds. That’s faster than the blink of an eye. So, even for the uber-busy millennial with the attention span of a goldfish, they won’t help but acknowledge your brand. It’s an inescapable visual hook.

Leke Alder, the executive coach, and social philosopher has a simple but professional logo which is a stylization of his name.

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5. Write consistently about the lessons you are learning

Sharing personal experiences layered with valuable lessons with your audience will further humanize your brand and increase your trust advantage.

Helpful content that are well-researched and unique will make people seek your brand and trust you more.

Jason Njoku has built a brand as a no-nonsense entrepreneur and analyst of the Lagos tech scene. Most young entrepreneurs in the Lagos tech cluster seek out his posts and quote his words like the bible. He has built a brand like this by consistently sharing personal experiences and lessons that are relevant and honest.

When writing about your lessons, be sure they are relevant and realistic. That’s important so that you don’t sound off as yet another self-obsessed post-millennium internet denizen looking for attention.

6. Create a tagline for your brand

Hear the line “Think Difference” and conjure up the simple elegance of Apple.

In the same way that a logo connects people with your brand and makes it memorable, the tagline can conjure up an emotional connection with your brand.

7. Share honest pictures on social media

Social media is big right now, (that’s stating the obvious), and a strong social media presence is the best way to reach the largest amount of people.

If you are serious about building a personal brand, being consistent on the popular social media outposts is sorely important. Publish content that is useful and authentic.

As a way to humanize your brand, share pictures of you doing something crazy, sharing a vulnerability or simply hanging out with friends.

8. Write an ebook, start a podcast, speak at events

All these three are bundled together because they speak almost at the same level to your authority in an industry or on a topic.

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Writing an ebook could be as easy as creating an epub / PDF version of a high-value content on your blog. With a tool like beacon.by, which we use a lot at Starta, you could create an ebook in under thirty minutes. The same applies to a podcast. Starting is as easy as inviting some other knowledgeable friends over to discuss a topic that people are reacting to on your blog.

In the case of events, getting on a TEDx stage may not be on the horizon just yet. But there are smaller industry gigs that are within your reach. Getting up in front of a live audience could be a prospect that might make you want to wet your pants, but the experience will make you more confident in yourself and build more authenticity into your brand.

9. Invest in professional photography

To be taken seriously, you have to look the part. A clean professionally-shot passport photograph is a quick hack to achieving this.

Use clear headshots for your profile pictures, especially on LinkedIn. In your photograph, wear a dress that is appropriate for your work and the brand you are trying to build. Also remember to smile. A simple smile has been known to improve your credibility. And that’s the whole point of building a brand. To build trustworthiness.

A strong, powerful brand will take a while to build. It’s like a garden. Although you will go to great lengths to build a strong foundation, it will take a period of consistent watering and pruning to reap the benefits. It takes hard work and consistency to build a brand that people trust.

How about you? Are you building a personal brand? How is it helping you improve your sales?