How to Build a Personal Brand That Feels True to You
For many designers, building a personal brand feels like putting up a facade. Here’s how you can get your work in the spotlight - without feeling fake.
We all know how important it is to present the best version of ourselves online, and as designers, we can easily appreciate the value of good appearances. Yet when it comes to our own personal brand, the meticulous crafting of an online persona can suddenly feel fake or presumptuous.
Where does the big gap come from? For one, a personal brand touches on our most, uhm, personal points. It’s not easy to think of oneself as a stand-alone entity that you market, just like you would any other product or company.
After all, you’re not a product. There’s a real-life person behind your online persona. One that makes great design work, but also indulges in me-time, tipsy nights out, and lazy days of binge-streaming at home.
Building a personal brand is a great way of attaching a face to the otherwise anonymous experience of surfing the web. It helps make things more relatable, credible and ultimately – more human.
But how can you build a personal brand that doesn’t feel like putting on a show, and seems true to you and your work? We’ve turned to Wix users and illustrators Ana Leovy and Haejin Park for advice on getting it right:
Ana Leovy: My art exposes a huge part of who I am
Painter and illustrator Ana Leovy agrees that adding a friendly face to your work can enhance your personal brand. “With all this technology and social media, we tend to forget that we are dealing with humans at the end of the day,” Ana tells Wix Creative.
For social media followers, a personal tone-of-voice can often be just as important as the work itself, if not more so. “When you follow an account you want to be able to connect somehow,” says Ana.
Yet promoting your work on Instagram and other social channels doesn’t imply you should force yourself into anything that you’re uncomfortable with. Ana, for one, values her privacy and prefers not to share too much of her personal life online.
But when it comes to her work, she admits that the two are never completely separate. “By exposing my art I feel like I’m already showing a huge part of who I am,” Ana explains. “I do enjoy sharing work related things that make me happy or mean something to me, either an achievement, frustration, or even part of my creative process.”
Scrolling through Ana’s Instagram feed and Wix website, her paintings and accompanying words come together to take us away to exotic lands full of bold female characters. Her portfolio website’s written copy serves in amplifying the message, telling her story loud and clear: “Passionate about celebrating women and diversity through my work,” her ‘About’ page reads. “My art intends to represent strong confident women living in vibrant worlds which are often a fusion between real life and my imagination.”
For Mexico City-based Ana, it’s all about staying true to yourself and your work online. “When I first started, I tried posting every single day, multiple times. It was exhausting and didn’t feel natural,” she recalls. “Now I only post when I’m excited to share something with the world.” And if you ask us, her excitement clearly shines through in her posts.
“Social media can be overwhelming if you are not focusing on the right things,” Ana concludes. “Don’t compare yourself with others; there is a style and a market for everyone, although I know that’s easier said than done. Finding your own style doesn’t come out of nowhere, it takes time and a lot of hard work. But once you find something you are comfortable with, it becomes natural.”
Haejin Park: I aspire for my work to reflect who I am
For New York-based illustrator Haejin Park, her work, personality and online presence should never be too different from one another. “I believe the artwork should speak for itself, but I also think that these days with social media, everything is very connected,” Haejin remarks. “I aspire to be someone whose artwork is similar to who I am,” she says, explaining that clients and fans can recognize this authenticity, which in turn helps build trust.
Alongside sharing her watercolors and other artwork online, Haejin also shares anything from her work-in-progress pics to fun selfies. “I feel pretty comfortable revealing myself online,” she notes. “I think viewers want to connect and when it’s more personal, people tend to connect more.”
In her opinion, a good social account combines design work with a sprinkle of private life. “Sometimes, people react better to personal things than to a grand advertisement of my products of achievements,” she points out. True to form, both her online store and social feeds proudly exude her unique personality.
While her personal brand is important for her, Haejin maintains a very casual approach when it comes to curating her posts and feeds. “I don’t plan ahead, try to design, or get stressed out. I think when people try too hard, it always shows,” she elaborates.
What it all comes down to, Haejin observes, is being true to yourself, both in your work and in promoting it online. “Believe in your aesthetic and don’t try to follow the trend,” Haijen proclaims, and we couldn’t agree more.
Personal branding tips
To summarize, here are four main tips on building a personal brand that you can get behind:
1. Stay honest: Identify the key points that make up your work and vision, and put those at the forefront of your personal brand. Feel free to remain the same quirky, witty or even awkward old you. You can even leverage your character traits into an integral part of what you put out into the world.
2. Tell a story: Building a reliable, consistent persona is crucial for any strong brand. Decide on a tone of voice that you wish to carry across, and treat your future posts as variations on the same theme.
3. Create a visual language: Your design should resonate with followers on social media. Visual branding assets, such as a logo or a color palette, can help in creating a unified image online, making you both recognizable and memorable.
4. Share more than just work: Set your own rules regarding what you’re comfortable with sharing online, and be sure to share more than one type of content. Give followers a feel for who you are by showing your work space, work-in-progress, photos of you and more.
Text Eden Spivak
Illustration Ana Leovy