What is a brand?
If I mention golden arches, just do it, or showed you a picture of an apple with a bite taken out of it you’d most likely think McDonalds, Nike and Apple.
This is the power of the right brand. Get it right and it can be worth millions. Get it wrong and you can sink into obscurity.
This makes total sense in the business world, but does a person need branding?
Do I really need to create a personal brand?
You don’t need to “create” a personal brand. Your personal brand has already been created for you!
If you don’t believe me go to Google right now and search your name.
If you are a business owner you’ll probably have a Facebook Page, Facebook personal account, LinkedIn profile, Twitter, Instagram, website.
Even if you don’t have a business you’ll have some, or all, of these.
What can I do about it?
The only thing you can do is to learn to be strategic about what we let people see.
Tom Peters first wrote about personal branding in Fast Company Magazine in 1997:
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
As entrepreneurs and business owners this is even more relevant today than when it was written 10 years ago. And even if you don’t own a business your public image impacts your job prospects
5 steps to building a personal brand
1. Be yourself.
People can tell when you are being authentic. If there’s incongruency between the public image that you are putting on social media and the ‘real you’ it becomes pretty obvious.
Your brand is a reflection of your beliefs and values. What do you stand for? What are your core values. If you don’t know this then you should do some work around defining your values and vision.
2. Research your competitors
Look around at the people who have the success that you aspire to.
- How do they conduct themselves online?
- What do they put out there?
- What can you learn from what they are doing?
- What is their point of difference?
While you are doing research you can also look at those that aren’t making it. What is it about their marketing or branding that doesn’t work.
3. Research your customers
Have you thought about your target market? Do you know the profile of the people who buy from you, or who you want to market to? If your answer is that your product or service “appeals to everyone” then you need to do some more work.
It’s been proven that one of the best ways to build a brand is to find your niche. Once you’ve found success in your niche then branch out.
4. Be consistent
This applies to the things that you say and do, as well as the way that you and your brand are visually represented. Decide on inages, fonts and logos, and try to keep a consistent feel across all your platforms.
Professional photos are an investment in your brand and you’ll be able to use the same set of images for years if they are done well. Speak to your makeup artist and your photographer about your brand and how you want to be perceived – if your brand is fun and playful then pictures of you in a business suit won’t complement your business.
Makeup and clothes in your everyday life says a lot about your brand as well. Make sure that you present yourself to the world in the way you wish to be perceived. If your brand is sleek and corporate then getting around in your trackies and a stained t-shirt isn’t going to help you (yes, even if you are going to the gym! Clients are everywhere). I don’t mean you need to be wearing Gucci with a full face of makeup, but being neat and tidy counts for a lot.
(If you’d like some help with learning to apply some makeup looks that complement your personal brand I’d love to talk to you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
5. Prove your worth
Provide unparalleled service to your clients. Word of mouth is the best way to create a strong, loyal brand following.
5. Create great content
Great content can get your brand out there, and can win over followers. There are so many ways to create content these days that it is easy to become overwhelmed.
Blogging, podcasts, videos, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Pick one or two channels to concentrate on and be amazing at that. You can cross post and cross promote content to reach a larger audience.
Your brand isn’t just built online. It’s on display every time you go to work. In every conversation that you have with your peers, your boss, your potential clients. It’s in the ideas that you share and in the questions that you ask.
Reach out to people in your community. Participate and offer value to local events and engage with your community to help build your brand. Think about places that you can connect with your target market.
If you feel that you are trying to ‘act a part’ then I recommend that you go back to step 1 and redefine your values and beliefs.
Living your brand can be a challenge and it’s one that we can all struggle with at times. If you have build your brand around your true values and beliefs your mindset can change and it will become easy to live your truth.
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