New to the world of personal branding? Let’s look at how best to get started.
Your personal brand is not just about sharing your stories and showing your uniqueness, these ideas contribute of course but ultimately your personal brand is about YOU. In the words of Seth Godin when being interviewed by Bryan Elliott from Behind the Brand: “There is a big difference between being Dell and Michael Dell and we are now entering this phase where it’s ok to be a person again.”
Your clients want to know the real you and they are always likely to respond well to evidence of your commitment and honesty. Plus when clients see your passion and energy in action, it can make a huge difference to their perception of your services.
At times it might be difficult for your clients to articulate or put their finger on what sets you apart but it’s a vital ingredient in effective personal branding. Call it spirit, soul, passion or an energy source, your clients will see and feel it – and it really can differentiate you from your competition and help you stand out from the crowd.
So here’s how to shine a light on what sets you apart:
Embrace your DNA
Be true to yourself and confidently demonstrate who you are throughout every aspect of your business, whether it’s the content you put on your website or the language you use while having a conversation; it all makes a difference and contributes to how you are perceived. Don’t try to be like someone else, acting as a weaker version of someone else is soul-destroying. You will be creating a mask that will eventually slip. Being true to yourself, focusing on the best of you will make you shine, it will help you to stand out from the crowd, attract the right type of clients and build a powerful personal brand.
Your brand mantra
It’s great to have a brand mantra that functions as a memorable statement describing the heart and soul of your business. Ideally it will tell the world immediately and in no uncertain terms who you are and what you have to offer. Complementing your brand mantra is a small number of equally memorable and inspiring brand messages. Most businesses have three key messages but it is perfectly okay to have one if you feel it does everything you need. Your messages should tell your audience what it is that makes your business unique, while describing in a compelling fashion the added value that you bring to the table.
It’s the way you tell ‘em
The tone of voice you use to accompany your branding messages is important from a branding perspective too, because it communicates a lot of what you’re all about to clients and potential clients. Tonality is not just about what you say but how you say it. Do you want to be seen as formal and corporate, professional but relaxed, authoritative and positive or maybe energetic and fun? Your tone of voice is a reflection of your personality, so make sure that the persona you are putting out is consistent across all your marketing material and is in line with your business goals.
It’s the McDonald’s experience
It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, the McDonald’s restaurant experience is incredibly consistent. There are some differences in certain countries, for example, the burgers in India are lamb rather than beef but generally speaking McDonald’s is a model of reliable consistency. No-one is saying you should start selling burgers, be they lamb or beef, but there is a lot to be said for maintaining standards regardless of circumstances or location.
By being consistent you communicate to your clients that you are reliable and dependable. This all helps build a trustworthy brand because people come to know exactly what they can expect from you and your services. Experts will advise that it’s important to focus on how you appear both in person and online, how you engage with your clients and how you deliver your services, but if you are not consistent you will be seen as ‘flaky’, unreliable and not a brand to be trusted when it counts.
How you take it to the next level
In a recent Oprah Presents Master Class, Oprah said: “Be the best at what you do, when you do well people notice.” Oprah went on to mention that she decided to live her life by this mantra. This is what took her to the top of her class at school, to becoming the highest paid female presenter in television and one of the richest women in America. However, Oprah explained that she never focused on the money but rather on doing, not just a good job, but an excellent job.
Excellence is key to getting your personal brand to the next level – there is no short cut around hard work and although you hear of people who have a brilliant brand and work just a few hours a week – every female entrepreneur I have met is extremely hard-working.
Getting up close and staying personal
It’s important in developing your personal brand to remain close to your clients so that you can understand and continue to understand the drivers of their business and how you can help them find solutions. By focusing on your client’s business drivers you will learn more about the way they operate and the industry they’re in; you never know when going the extra mile can make a crucial difference!
You are never off record
In the corporate world I always told my colleagues, when taking them through their PR paces, that they were never off record when speaking to journalists – that way they never had to worry if they said the wrong thing. Today that sentiment is even more important given that the internet is always on hand to retain your every word, every bad photo or ill-timed remark you’ve made. Rather than fill up the web with sound-bites that can backfire and damage your reputation, associate yourself as much as possible with great stuff that reinforces why your clients should work with you.
So when it comes to personal branding there is a lot to think about, but passion, energy, commitment and the pursuit of excellence should always be at the heart of what you do. If you can weave all that into the way you communicate with clients on a consistent basis then you will soon be regarded as a brand and a person that’s great to work with and a beacon of reliability.