What comes first: the logo or the colour palette?
Trick question! It’s NEITHER.
Unlike what many teachers think, building a personal brand isn’t about colours, fonts and the way your Instagram page looks. It’s actually all about strategy and sales.
Your personal teaching brand should be the foundation of everything you say, do, create and post in your business. It encapsulates your skills, personality, beliefs, mission and vision. It influences how you show up and want the world to see you.
It’s also how you can attract attention from your ideal students and get them interested in buying from you.
Obviously, that takes more than pretty graphics. So, in this post, I’m taking you through 8 things you need to do to create a brand identity as a teacher.
Step 1: Understanding your audience
Running a business is like being a parent. You might have your own wants and needs, but you’ve always got to put your AUDIENCE first. 😅
That applies to building your personal brand, too (sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out).
Your audience is the fuel that drives your business forward, so you need to factor them into every decision you make, even when you think they’re about you!
By that, I mean that you should start by thinking about who you’re working with, what they care about and what types of people they are. Although they will all have unique personalities, you will find general crossovers in their values, problems, desires and needs.
Start by making a list of these things so you are clear on what they want and what they stand for. That way, you can keep referring back to this to make sure the things you stand for align with their wants and needs.
Step 2: Getting clear on your passion and skills
Ok, now we can talk about you! 😁
Once you know who you are talking to, your next step is to do a deep dive into your personality, passions and skills. Get yourself a notepad and pen and start by answering the following questions:
- What is your passion?
- What are your main skills as a teacher?
- What is your zone of genius? AKA the place where your interests, passion and skills combine to create something you’re REALLY good at (if you’ve never given this much thought, I recommend reading The Big Leap – it’s a brilliant book that will help you identify what might be stopping you from achieving your full potential)
- What matters most to you (in life and in your work)?
Figuring out what makes you unique is a difficult process, so these questions should help unblock you and get you thinking in the right way to complete the next steps.
Step 3: Diving into your personality
A big part of building a personal brand as a teacher is deciding how you want to show up. Do you want to be your fabulous, authentic self? Or would you prefer to show up in a different way?
With me? What you see is what you get. I’ve built my brand around the real me. I write in my authentic voice, I choose colours that express my bold personality, and I regularly give my followers a glimpse into my world. (If you follow me on Instagram, you WILL see me spinning around a pole at least once per month. It’s part of who I am. 😅)
I bet that some other business owners would find this unprofessional, and that’s ok! The point of building a personal brand isn’t to appeal to everyone (boring and impossible). It’s to speak to the right people (much more fun).
Ever since I started letting my audience into my world, I’ve built stronger connections, gained clarity in my business and made loads more sales. 😃
I’m not suggesting you follow my lead. It’s your brand. You should do what feels right for you and your audience. But it’s so important to decide on this before going any further.
Step 4: Defining your values
Values matter a LOT in business because they represent what you stand for as a brand. They give more depth and meaning to your logo, colour palette and services. They also give a clear direction to the things you say and how you say them (aka your tone of voice – more on that later).
Not only that, but your values can impact your sales.
A recent study showed that 82% of customers prefer to buy from businesses they feel aligned with, and 39% said they would stop buying from a brand altogether if their values don’t match. Crazy, right!? 😯
If you were considering skipping this step and focusing on the fun stuff… think again, dear teacher.
I suggest coming up with 3-4 core values that represent what you stand for as a teacher and a business owner. Then think about how these already (or can) show up in your classes, your messaging and your actions.
Step 5: Writing down your mission
A mission statement briefly sums up what you do, who you serve and what your purpose is. It also helps to show how you fit within the market and what makes you unique.
It’s difficult to say all this in a short sentence! But it gives direction to everything you do in your teaching business, from your offer creation to your marketing.
Here are some examples of other business mission statements:
Duolingo: To provide accessible language education to everyone in the world.
International House London: To empower people to reach their full potential by delivering world class language experiences.
Me 😀: My mission is to support language teachers to create a life of freedom where they can teach the language on their own terms with the help of my unique courses, workshops and group coaching programs.
Want help coming up with a mission statement for your personal teaching brand? Here’s a free tool to help you get started.
Step 6: Deciding on your vision
While a mission is more about what you are doing right now to serve your audience, your brand’s vision is the world you are working towards creating for your people.
If you think of your business like a journey, your mission is the car, and your vision is the destination.
So, what do you dream of your work leading towards? What would a better world for your ideal students look like?
My vision is a world where language teachers thrive with businesses that are fun, sustainable and have an impact on the world.
Before you write yours, make sure you have defined your mission. You want the two statements to make logical sense together!
Step 7: Your tone of voice
This is one of the most important parts of the personal branding process, but it’s also one of the hardest. It is basically the word equivalent of your visual identity. It’s the kind of tone and personality you convey in your written content and copy.
Your values should underpin your tone of voice because they are what your brand stands for, and there’s no better way to show that than through what you say and how you say it.
So, start by revisiting your brand values. For each one, make a list of related adjectives that convey this value. Once you’ve got a nice long list, choose one adjective for each value and then consider how you can show that through your writing.
For example, should you use short, punchy sentences or longer, more complex prose?
Pro tip: consult ChatGPT! Enter your brand adjectives and ask it to give you a list of writing techniques you can use to convey these personality traits in your copy. Refine them, of course, but then you can copy and paste the guidelines into a document you use to ensure all of your writing is aligned.
Step 8: Creating your visual identity
AKA the part I bet you’ve been waiting for… 😁
Your colours, logo and designs are actually one of the last things you should create because they tie everything together and convey your brand personality in a visual way.
It might be frustrating to do so much before you can get creative on Canva, but what if I told you it’s actually so much easier when you have clearly defined your values, mission and vision?
Think about it… when you know exactly what you stand for and how you want your target audience to see you as a business, you can select colours and designs that reinforce that image and bring your whole brand to life.
Plus, if you decide you want to outsource this part to a graphic designer, they will ask you these same questions so that they have a clear idea of where they should start. So, basically, don’t skip it!
When creating a visual identity, you want to make sure everything is consistent so people recognise your content as yours. That means you’ll want to:
- Choose a colour palette of around 5-10 colours you use across your designs.
- Pick a couple of fonts you use on everything. Usually one for a headline and one for the body text, maybe also a complementary third one.
- Create a couple of variations of your logo that you can use in different places.
See how much goes into creating a brand identity as a teacher?
Your audience might only SEE the colours, logos and nice designs, but it’s the work you’ve put in behind the scenes that makes sure these things resonate with them.
It isn’t an easy process, and it takes a lot of soul searching, but take it from someone who has successfully built a recognisable personal brand: it’s totally worth it!
Oh, and one other thing. Don’t pressure yourself to get it all right the first time. The beauty of building a personal brand is that YOU get to choose if and when you want to change things.