The Authority Blueprint: Elevate Your Personal Brand Strategy

December 11, 2023

beth laguardia cmo headshot

Written by
Beth LaGuardia

targets with arrows for brand positioning

Business leaders almost always have a clearly defined brand strategy for their corporate brands. Rarely do they think of creating a brand strategy for themselves.

In fact, a differentiated and powerful personal brand strategy is probably the most overlooked and underrated component of an effective Authority building plan. At Advantage Media, we consider brand strategy to be the core pillar underpinning our entire Authority Maturity Model.

This article unlocks the secrets of brand strategy, helping you build authority and enhance your current approach.

  1. Creating the 1-page strategy with the 3 P’s
  2. Extending the Brand Strategy to Drive Audience Reach
  3. Leveraging Audience as a Strategy Asset

Creating the One-Page Strategy

Your one page strategy comprises brand purpose, brand positioning, and brand performance.
Brand Purpose
As with corporate brands, this speaks to what you are uniquely offering and who you are uniquely offering it to. For a company, we often use the mission, purpose, and values to help convey the brand promise. These serve as a north star for the company to make strategic decisions that reinforce its purpose.

For a thought leader, it’s not all that different. Think about why you want to be a thought leader. What are the topics for which you are uniquely qualified to share expertise? Why do you feel you can add to the conversation and make an impact?

On a deeper level, why do you want to be a thought leader in the first place? Now, who do you want to reach with your message? And to what end – meaning how will this be of value to them? These things together make up your personal brand mission, also referred to as your purpose.

Your mission statement needs to come from within.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What are my values?
  • What makes me great?

We all have superpowers—things we do better than anyone else. This is not the time to be humble, but it is necessary to connect emotionally to your mission. Ultimately, the deep commitment that your brand represents matters more than the words in the statement.

Let’s look at a corporate example: Tesla. Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles in addition to renewable energy generation and storage.

And an example from a thought leader, Amanda Steinberg, of Dailyworth.com: To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.

Brand Positioning

Now that we know what superpowers you’re looking to share, to whom, and to what end: How will you communicate your brand purpose?

We recommend developing 3-4 core topics and the succinct key sub-topics for each that you can speak to. An example of a core topic might be “brand strategy” and a sub-topic might be “how to be on-brand with the role of AI tools in delivering on the customer experience.”

Digital Footprint

At this point, you want to understand how discoverable you are when someone searches for you on Google. And they will, just as we all do, before they take your call or trust you as an expert. Do you have a common name that other people have? Do search results create confusion with them? If so, can you even be found?

One step you can take is to own your own domain name. And if you cannot own your own name, you may need to think about adding a middle initial or middle name. Then rebooting your thought leadership to ensure you can be found and can own your space.

Reaching Your Ideal Audience

First things first: who is your audience? A helpful exercise is to document your ideal customer profile in more depth at this point. Who are they, what are their needs, what motivates them – in the context of your brand and elsewhere in their lives?

This is a specific, but concise piece of the one-page strategy and doesn’t even have to be more than a few bullet points – but you want a backup document that is more complete. Here’s how.

Exercise: Brand Personas

Creating brand personas may be a companion step that more concretely outlines the audience or audience profile you want to reach. A rule of thumb would be to create 2-5 key personas. Ensure they are sufficiently unique from one another with respect to who they are (attributes) how and why they resonate with your brand.

We also want to know where to reach them (media) and ultimately what competition we may have that already owns a sizable portion of the “addressable market.” Be as specific as possible, as this will help you reach and resonate with them.

Going too broad or thinking you can be all things to all people will cause you to dilute your message and have it less-than-likely to resonate with anyone.

Brand Performance (or Experience)

This is all about putting the plan into action. Much like you would do for your company brand, you need to think about how your delivery reinforces your purpose and your positioning. Every brand touchpoint that can be experienced with the five senses should communicate and support your brand.

To develop your experience, you need to clearly define how you want your audience to define you in their minds. This has to do with everything that makes up your image, including your personality and tone, imagery and colors that you consistently share on your website and owned and rented platforms.

From a content perspective, are you providing the right content and approaches to support where and how your audience expects to learn from and engage with you?

If you want your audience to view you as a teacher and not an operator, then you need to offer content that is not laden with sales offerings. You need to think about your personal brand website as a place to teach – an educational resource for your audience.

We end the one page strategy with the memorable takeaway that we want our audience to have when they experience our brand. This is typically a cross between a tagline and an emotion or action that we want to elicit, and it should be a sentence or less.

Extending the Value of Brand Strategy To Drive Audience Reach

Mature Authorities…

  • Validate their brand strategy with audience feedback and performance data.
  • Leverage brand personas throughout all areas of their organization to make decisions.
  • Are looked to as “best in class” for defining their brand in a differentiating way. Others use coined phrases that they have created.

Now that you have your brand strategy working for you, consider how you can use the strategy to drive discoverability and reputation.

1. Discoverability Through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It doesn’t matter if you have an amazing brand strategy if no one knows about it. We have to put calories into making sure we are discoverable in the places where our audiences are looking. And one of the key places is Google search.

A first step is to make a list of the terms you want to be known for, then make a priority A and B list based on:

  • How challenging it is to rank highly (page one) for each – A for feasible, B for unlikely
  • How many people are searching on this term – A for lots, B for very few
  • How aligned the term is to the core of your brand and what differentiates you – A for super-aligned, and B for not so much

Now you have to parse through this list to decide on the top terms you want to focus on ranking for and measuring your progress against. This short list will be used heavily when you create your content strategy.

The great news is that SEO rankings are increasingly favoring unique content from thought leaders. First-hand accounts that distinguish us from AI-written content and unique perspectives are going to position the thought leader highly for time to come. This is especially true when the account is backed by third-parties and primary research. We want our thought leaders to be considered “the source” for their topic of expertise.

SEO is a long game, but it is worth doubling down to focus on succeeding at. The outcomes to measure include trends in volume and conversion of organically driven traffic to your site. As we know, quantity but also quality matter. If you focus on delivering high-value and consistently on-brand content, you will get meaningful results, organically.

Our SEO at Advantage Media likes to build a content strategy that infuses SEO strategy, then review priority keywords and traffic with them at least quarterly. Monitoring competitors and market changes in the SEO field also fuels insights and recommended pivots in our quarterly business reviews.

2. Brand-building Associations

Reputation can partially be built through association, there is not a doubt. If a brand you implicitly trust endorses another brand, you are likely to give it a look. As an exercise, we recommend making a list of brands that are in your network today.

These may be people who have a large or engaged following and a strong reputation. Then thinking of ways to engage more directly with them to leverage the power of their network.

For example:

  • Can you interview them on a podcast that you host? Maybe host a webinar for their audience exclusively?
  • Or can you simply endorse and tag them in your content?
  • If you are writing a book, can you include them or ask them to write a foreword or endorsement?

Think about third-party brands you can use to build your reputation. Independent brands that are looked to for objectivity, such as media outlets or event organizers, can elevate the trust in your thought leadership by quoting you.

Applying for awards and recognition and using the award icons as a “seal of approval” can further bring brand-building authority to you as a thought leader. Even member associations and board positions can elevate your brand stature. These all are levers that can and should be considered as you build your Authority.

Understanding your online reputation and doing what you can to control your own destiny is important. If you have a reputation crisis, invest in a firm that specializes in this area. They can help you push down negative results and conversations by elevating the good work you are doing.

What you can always do is ask happy customers to review you on key platforms and make it easy for them to do by giving them a link to share their review and telling them how much it means to you.

Fans to Partners: Learn To Collaborate with Your Audience

Too many business leaders neglect to view their audience as a strategic asset to help them amplify their thought leadership. There’s inviting engagement and sharing on social media (do that!), but this goes a lot further.

Here are two ways to help you get started:

1. Provide Exclusive Offerings

We all love exclusivity. Is there any way you can offer exclusive value (content, discounts to workshops or courses, etc.) to your loyal audience? One way to do this AND grow your audience at the same time is to allow your loyal audience to “pay it forward” by gifting a special offer to someone they know.

As much as we like to feel like a VIP, we like to share that VIP feeling with others to celebrate and elevate our value to our networks, too.

One opportunity to consider is an annual study that requests participation from your audience. Then provides findings that are exclusively available to them.

Further, you can co-brand your study with another brand (back to the association value) that will help to elevate your brand in their minds. The findings then can be turned into articles or a keynote presentation that you deliver unique-to-you as a thought leader.

2. Celebrate Your Audience By Placing Them on a Pedestal

Can you write a case study or otherwise promote someone in your network for their good deeds or best practices? Everyone likes to talk about themselves, right? Can you co-host a webinar series or video series with your audience?

Further, if you give them assets that they can use for time to come, they will be even prouder to share with their network. This is where the power of the network comes into play.

3. Give Fans Something To Share and Connect Them To You

What about stickers for their laptops? Or badges for their LinkedIn profiles? Even shareable community content or in-person networking connections that provide selfie stations can go a long way. Use every opportunity to the fullest.

Share your personal passions to the degree you feel comfortable, so that you are more relatable and memorable to your audience. Connecting on a more intimate level with your audience can go a long way to building trust and inspiring shareable content that goes beyond the core professional topics and drives awareness to new audiences.

Keep An Eye Out for Workshops

If you are looking for advice and help in taking your brand strategy to the next level, we invite you to take our Authority Assessment and register for our next Build Your Master Authority Plan LIVE event! Visit our Events page to learn more.

beth laguardia cmo headshot

Beth LaGuardia

Chief Marketing Officer

Beth LaGuardia Cooper provides leadership direction grounded in a nurturing culture that strikes a balance of performance, efficiency, and innovation. Key tenets of her marketing ...

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