Building your own personal brand is an important part of setting yourself apart as a loan officer. Every loan officer has a company behind them, but your personal brand is what makes YOU stand out from everyone else. Taking the time to define your personal brand will help you attract the kind of referral partners and clients you want to work with.
If a client or real estate agent hasn’t worked with you before, how you present yourself online and to the world gives them a glimpse of what working with you would be like. When someone has a clear picture of who you are, you don’t have to sell them on working with you. They’ll chose to work with you because they are drawn to you personally and professionally.
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is not just your logo, colors and fonts. That’s part of the equation, but the other part is your persona, messaging and imagery. It’s your personality, values, experience and expertise in the mortgage industry. Your personal brand should be a consistent representation of what people are going to get every time they interact with you (either face-to-face or online).
An excellent example of personal branding for the mortgage industry is APM Top Producer and President’s Club winner Brady Thomas. Brady is well known in the industry for his philanthropic work and for supporting organizations in his community that are giving back to people in need. Brady has made a pledge to donate a portion of every loan to a charity of his client’s choosing. Brady is also regularly seen rolling up his sleeves and getting to work as a volunteer in his community. This is work Brady is passionate about and clearly displays his core values. Clients and referral partners are drawn to work with Brady for this reason, and as you can probably tell, this is what sets Brady apart from others in the industry and the company that he works for—it’s part of his personal brand.
How to Build a Personal Brand
Now that we’ve defined what a personal brand is and why it’s important, it’s time to start building your own.
1. Lay the Foundation for Your Personal Brand
The first step in crafting your personal brand is creating a foundation you can build on. This means starting with authenticity. Some people think that building a personal brand is crafting a new persona, but it’s not. A personal brand is built on a true, authentic reflection of who you are. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you build the foundation for your personal brand:
- Interests & Personal Traits: What are you interested in? What excites you (hobbies, lifestyle, family, volunteer work, etc.)? Are you secretly a comedian that loves to make people laugh? Do you spend every weekend volunteering in the community? Whatever your interests are, try weaving them into your personal brand.
- Business & Personal Values: Integrity, leadership, connection, impact—adding in core values both personally and professionally is a huge part of your personal brand.
This foundation is the beginning of building an authentic picture of yourself. These elements show who you really are and your differentiator. It’s hard to forget a lender who talks about mortgages while wrapping up a championship round of pickle ball.
2. Pick a Niche
You can market to everybody, but that doesn’t make you different. Some loan officers don’t like hearing this because they worry they will give up deals, but the reality is that picking a niche helps you become more visible and creates strong brand awareness. Picking a niche doesn’t mean you can’t do other business. A niche is simply a way to identify yourself and stand out, which ultimately attracts more people to you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about picking a niche:
Brand vision: What do you want to be known for?
Brand mission: What’s your purpose and who do you want to influence?
Brand message: What advice do you have to offer your audience?
Audience: Who do you want to connect with and market to?
Answering these questions can help you decide what market you want to target.
- Do you want to be the go-to for veterans in your area?
- Do you want to help first-time homebuyers?
- Do you want to help people with real estate investing?
- Do you want to be known for a particular cause?
3. Identify your Unique Value Proposition
Identifying your unique value proposition is a combination of who you are + the niche you serve + how you can help.
Why do people want to do business with you? Remember that people aren’t looking for mortgage products and information about rates; they’re looking for someone who will guide them through one of the biggest financial decisions they’ll ever make. Why should that be you?
This statement about your unique value proposition needs to be easily communicated and reflected throughout all of your marketing.
4. Get Personal and Showcase it
Your marketing should be personal because it helps potential customers begin to know, like and trust you. As professionals, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that obtaining a mortgage is an overwhelming process for most. Getting personal in marketing allows people to feel comfortable and connected before they even meet you.
Here are some ways to showcase your personality:
- Personal Branding Photos: Gone are the days of a business headshot. Personal branding photos help convey your personality in a professional layout. You can use these images on your website, on social media, and even in print campaigns. There’s no better way to show people who you really are than a photo of you in the most authentic form
- Weave Stories into Everything: One of the current trends in marketing is storytelling, which connects your messaging to the feelings and emotions of your audience. This can start out as a personal story that morphs into a mortgage tip or a client story that highlights your expertise in the industry. The goal is to connect your messaging to the human element people are paying attention to.
- Use Video: Get active on video with tips, education or fun stories – this includes videos for social media, email or other ways you communicate—Any time you use video, you help people get to know you without having to be face-to-face.
5. Become Known for Something
One way to help people remember you is to become known for something that doesn’t have anything to do with getting a mortgage. It’s just another way to weave your personality and what you’re passionate about into your content.
- If you give a portion of your loan proceeds back to a charity, make sure that is known in all of your marketing materials (and tell a story about the charity and why it’s important to you).
- If you bring your dog with you everywhere (even to work), consider making your dog part of your brand personality.
- If you participate in community activities or coach sports, showcase that as part of your marketing.
- If you are a foodie and like to evaluate and promote local restaurants, include that.
- If you speak another language, include it in your branding.
6. Deliver on Your Value Consistently
When you plant the seeds of your personal brand in all of your conversations, it’s not long before you and your brand are synonymous in people’s minds. Intentionally build the narrative with people that you are the expert at what you’ve chosen to do.
This is something that’s done over time, in every interaction you have with people. Reinforce what they think about you. The more consistent you are, the stronger your brand becomes.
Focus on quality and consistency in all of your content, and refrain from publishing content that’s a poor reflection of your brand. It’s a long-term game, but it pays when you’re strategic in how you present yourself.
7. Build Trust by Building a Community
Build a community of people who are in your corner. Become the leader of a community in your niche, where people can interact with each other and with you. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Live or Virtual Events: Host events where your clients and realtors can spend time with you in-person. Private dinners, workshops, and casual meetups are all good ways to build long-term, personal relationships.
- Facebook Groups: Create a private Facebook group for clients or realtors. This is a wonderful way to start meaningful conversation with your audience with very little effort. It also gives them a community where they can support each other.
Tell the World About Your Brand
Once you’ve really solidified your personal brand, it’s time to tell the world about it! Research how you are perceived online—does it match your brand?
Remember, people want to work with those they know, like and trust. Put intentionality behind how you show up—video, website, bio, photos, email, content, in-person meetings…Does it reflect back what you want to portray? Are you posting about things that build rapport?
Building a personal brand is worth the effort and will absolutely grow your business when people know who you are, exactly what you do, and why they want to work with you.