Branding is one of the topics that generate a lot of passion in discussions. Everyone has an opinion of what Branding is or should be and whether it’s useful or deceptive.
Well, this is because of the meaning that people attach to the word and the examples they have personally experienced.
According to the BusinessDictionary.com, Branding is about creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. It aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
So applied to a person what does that give? Wikipedia says: ”Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands”. Glenn Llopis on Forbes.com defines it as “a leadership requirement, not a self-promotion campaign.”
For me, Personal Branding is not about spending big bucks for image building or self-promotion for the sake of it. “Personal branding is not something you do; it’s something you are.“
It enables you to stand out from the crowd, be easily recognisable and engage powerfully with your audience. If you are prepared to do the hard work, be a role model and walk your talk then Personal Branding will be a great enabler for your professional success.
Here are the 7 keys to build an Authentic Brand that resonates with people you want to attract:
#1. Define who you are
Personal branding starts with credibility. Define and communicate clearly who you are as well as your values i.e. what is important to you and how you act upon it. You need to walk your talk.
What are you known for or what do you want to be known for? That means defining a clear mission that other people will connect to.
What are your talents and key skills? If you are not in a room and I ask people to tell me about you what would they say? Which words would they use to describe you?
Personal brand is about what people say when you are not in a room. So define how you want people to talk about you and communicate that.
#2. Set your standard
Define the level you want to play at in life and at work. Some people are happy to play small when others think big. Which level do you want to play at?
You might spend as much energy trying to do small things, get small contracts when you could get bigger ones and achieve more with almost the same effort. It’s up to you to decide which level you want to play at.
Would you rather spend one hour connecting to one high level client to get you £10k or would you rather spend the same hour to talk to 10 people to get the same money?
If you choose the first option then you need to raise your standard to allow this to happen.
Which means that you need to start going to places where people who are playing at that level are and see the world through their lenses.
#3. Say why you do what you do
What is your Big Why? Why do you do the things you do? What makes you get up in the morning?
What is your biggest motivation that drives you to do the things that you won’t feel compelled to do otherwise? Is it for your family? Your kids? Your community? For a particular cause? For your nation?
It’s this ‘Big Why’ that connects you at heart-level to your ideal customers and stakeholders. They buy into the big picture and what you stand for.
#4. What do you happen to do and how you do it?
Tell about your product or service and how you add value. Deliver consistently on your promise, with high standard and excellent customer service.
How do you treat people, your staff, your clients, your suppliers, your family, and your friends? Do you treat them with the same respect or do you have double standard? Are you someone who encourage the best in people, provide constructive feedback and offer to help?
Invest your time to produce the results you want to be associated to your personal brand.
#5. Who do you serve?
Who you choose to work with is also part of your personal branding. It positions you quickly as the expert.
With the fierce competition in the marketplace and its fragmentation, it pays to pin point who are serving, your niche. Get a deep understanding of their issues and select the problems that you are passionate about solving.
Being selective allows you to make a bigger impact more quickly.
#6. Tell stories.
To build your personal brand effectively you need to tell stories. Why? People don’t remember facts or hard-core evidence but they keep in mind vivid stories.
All great leaders are good at storytelling. One of the master storyteller was Steve Jobs who managed with his keynote speeches (translate commercials) to create hungry people dying to hand over their money in exchange of his products.
After all, we humans are social animals who want emotion and feel connected.
Being able to tell compelling stories about you and your solution is the fastest way to inspire your ideal audience to take the desired action.
#7. Define your image
Image branding is what some people have in mind when they think of personal branding. Image is important but shouldn’t be done without the other components we’ve discussed so far.
Developing an authentic brand doesn’t mean you should be boring. Without being a fashion victim, you can express your personality and preferences. Mari Smith, the Facebook expert is known for her turquoise colour, whilst Joe Pullizzi, the founder of Content Marketing Institute always wears something orange. Seth Godin, the Marketing expert and best selling author has perfected his futuristic look with his big yellow glasses.
In the TV show How we made our millions, the Dragon den’s star Peter Jones interviews Michelle Mone, founder of Ultimo lingerie business and Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent, the smoothie company.
Both successful entrepreneurs have totally opposite personal styles that suit their personality and what they want their business brand to be. Richard is totally relaxed and the staff can turn out in dressing gown whilst Michelle’s style is chic, sleek and spotless.
Is your style relaxed with tee shirt and jeans? Is it chic? Conservative? Trendy? Eccentric? Choose the style that suits you and that will project the values that are important to you.
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Photo credits: Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net