The phrase “personal brand” may fill you with apprehension or even outright disdain but don’t let this seemingly cold, corporate-sounding jargon distract you from one of the core pillars of your marketing success as a classical musician in today’s modern world.
Simply put, your personal brand is essentially your reputation; the way you conduct yourself in daily life, on stage in front of your audience and perhaps more importantly, online.
Your reputation consists of your core values, personality traits, passions, goals and intentions.
If your personal brand is essentially your reputation, then the most important way to develop your personal brand is by showcasing AUTHENTICITY and BEING YOURSELF.
But with one major caveat…
It has to be your BEST self.
Your personal brand should not be a calculated costume that you wear solely to impress. At best, this tactic is likely to produce only a meager level of success and at worst, it could erode the trust of those you meet and work with.
Consider yourself interviewing for a job or meeting an important musician in your field. The goal is present your best self by striking a balance between exhibiting your charming personality and professionalism. If you go overboard in attempts to impress someone by limiting or even crushing your personality, you appear robotic and untrustworthy. Go too far in the other direction and you might appear overly confident, familiar and cavalier.
This applies in exactly the same way with your online presence, be it your website, video and blog content, or public social media posts. The avalanche of online self-promotion has helped content consumers to develop an intuitive six sense to quickly and ruthlessly sniff out inauthenticity and lies. And since everything you post online is searchable by virtually anyone, you need to be clear about how you want your reputation to be perceived when people engage with your content.
Do you have a personal brand yet?
The answer is yes. You may not even realize this but whatever exists about you online is your personal brand. This patchwork of information exists and from it, people generate their initial opinion of you.
How many times have you met or heard about someone and then immediately proceeded to search for that individual on Google, Facebook or any other number of online platforms?
Hands up. Don’t be afraid to admit it!
Once considered creepy, this soon evolved into the more tongue-in-cheek “internet stalking.” But now, it is an expectation because the Internet is the foundation of modern networking (or rather, relationship building). Instead of requesting a resume or asking friends and colleagues for their opinions, we simply look people up online out of convenience. This is where LinkedIn swooped in and created a platform for the “online resume.” The truth today is that your entire online presence is now your ultimate resume.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have intentionally minimized all online presence, you are out there waiting to be found online. Everything you’ve publicly posted or that others have shared about you, these are the puzzle pieces that someone uses to build their initial picture of who you are, what you’re like, what you like to do and much more.
This is all your reputation. This is all part of your personal brand.
The great news is that with consideration and effort, each of us has a massive opportunity to actively carve out a solid reputation for ourselves online and this can greatly enhance the relationships and success that we strive for in our lives.
Creating this personal brand is actually a simple enough concept that goes beyond the bright colors and flashy visuals that often wastes too much our time and efforts.
Let’s say that one of your ultimate goals is to become a respected, sought-after violin teacher for talented high school or college instrumentalists.
Prospective students and their parents might expect or desire the following traits in a teacher:
If you feel that these elements all align with your passions and feel authentic to you, they should make up the core of your personal brand and feature in a large portion of what you post online.
Specifics might include:
- Social media and/or website posts that include videos of you playing the violin.
- Engaging in Twitter conversations with high school violinists.
- Writing blog posts about what you love to teach but also what helps you relax and enjoy life outside of the practice room.
- Presenting case studies on your website showcasing current student successes.
This type of content creation is virtually endless. Search your name and in time, this is what shows up on Google and this is what forms the initial impression that could determine whether you get a call from an interested student or not.
Authentic personality and character resonates because people want to trust in someone that understands them and can solve their problems. Make your website reflect who you are as a person beyond what your bio lists as your accomplishments as a musician. Your headshots are lovely and useful too, but perhaps you could also share fun, candid shots of you teaching and inspiring your current students that provide an approachable human side.
We spend too much time thinking about and chasing money. You need to think long term and building your reputation as a leader in this field is what ultimately generates your loyal following. Patience and diligence is required but people will eventually come to you because you’re constantly working on breaking through the noise with valuable, intriguing and inspirational content for the audience that you’re trying to reach. And guaranteed, there are few people in the classical music industry dedicating themselves to this pursuit so you have the opportunity to stand out, head and shoulders above the rest.
These are the keys to a solid reputation, the foundation of an unbreakable personal brand and the longevity of success in whatever field you wish to pursue.