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3 Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Personal Branding Lessons And Goals

I asked three South African women entrepreneurs to share their challenges with branding them in 2018 and how they are going to do things differently in 2019.

Lien Potgieter

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Briony Liber

Getting your personal branding right is essential if you are a solopreneur. It speaks volumes of your professionalism, the standard of your products or services, and your values. Most importantly, you need to embody what you portray in your “packaging”.

Many entrepreneurs leave this step to the last minute, when it should form part of the foundation of your business. When starting out, it is wise to spend time and energy on creating a coherent, authentic look and feel, and message of brand YOU. Remember, it is all about how you want to be perceived by potential clients.

Various elements form part of your personal branding, including your website, logo, messaging, photographs, colours, your story, how you stay in touch with your clients, and how and when you show up on social media.

I asked three South African women entrepreneurs to share their challenges with branding them in 2018 and how they are going to do things differently in 2019.

1. Naomi Estment

naomi-estment

Personal branding photographer, videographer and trainer.

How did you build your personal brand in 2018?

Connection was a key word for me in 2018, so I kicked off the year by attending various networking events, followed by presenting a few live workshops. My primary focus for the year was to complete and publish the content for my seven online courses, while maintaining contact with my email list and engagement on my social media profiles, including some Facebook advertising.

What do you regard as the most important element of your personal brand?

Authenticity is fundamental to my brand, along with passion, inspiration and professionalism. I consider my website to be the hub of my personal and signature business brand, particularly since I’m the face of my brand. It’s an important point of reference for prospects to learn about me and explore how I can help them. My social media profiles are essential to expand my reach and to maintain engagement with my followers, while email marketing is key for developing the ‘know, like and trust factor’ for my brand and subsequently sharing value-rich promotions.

What are the biggest mistakes you made in branding yourself and your business?

If I could go back and begin my personal and business branding journey again, I would commit more focus, time and energy sooner to determining my specific niche, according to my uniquely personal combination of experience, talent, passion and skill. Once you have clarity about that, your brand message can consequently emerge. This tends to happen when you’re ready for it. A massive boost for me was winning a scholarship to Marie Forleo’s phenomenal online B-School in 2016. One of the many valuable lessons I’ve learned is the power of aiming for ‘progress not perfection’. The important thing is to take action and do the best you can with what you have, where you are.

How will you do things differently in 2019 when it comes to personal branding? How do you want to grow your business or influence in 2019?

In 2019, I intend to enhance my personal and business branding by expanding my reach further and amplifying my expert status through key affiliate partnerships, targeted Facebook advertising and contributing guest posts, articles and interviews to relevant media publications and podcasts.

Any hints and tips for fellow female entrepreneurs?

Don’t underestimate the power of brilliant personal branding photos and videos to position your brand as premium and amplify your reach, while dramatically up-leveling the way you feel about yourself and how others perceive you. If you find it challenging to face a lens, then practice being on camera and review your results repeatedly to get used to how you look and sound. This is the digital age. You can always delete and repeat. If you want to fast track your success, invest in expert help.

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Business Women To Watch

2. Pam Padayachee

pam-padayachee

Virtual assistant.

How did you develop your personal brand in 2018?

In 2018, I developed my personal brand by attending networking events that are specifically aimed at female entrepreneurs. To build greater awareness of my brand and my business, I also became more active on social media. My logo and website had a makeover too, with a specific focus on the colours that I use. When I started my business ten years ago (on a part-time basis and primarily to supplement the household income as the recession showed its face), I had no clue where to begin so I did an amateur website and no thought went into colours or branding. Business came in but at a snail’s pace.

In my eighth year of business, I tried out a new logo, a very earthy colour, which didn’t signify my personal brand at all, but it was a refreshing change from the last one. When I eventually decided to go into business full time in 2017, my goal was to rebrand and give my business a proper facelift. It was then that I contacted a business coach specialising in colour therapy to do a colour assessment for me. I took her guidance, which at first glance was quite shocking – the colours she recommended was red and blue!

I went with this guidance to the graphic designer and web designer and told them to work with these colours specifically. I then arranged a photo shoot and low and behold when I shopped for my suit, through pure synchronicity, the only suit that fitted was blue and white – with the addition of a red scarf, voila! I was exhibiting my company’s brand.

Well, what can I say, with the launch of the new website and branding, 2018 was a spectacular year with new business!

What do regard as the most important element of your personal brand?

To me, my value proposition is the most important element of brand me. I also hold in high esteem authenticity, consistency, expertise, and visibility.

What are the biggest mistakes you made in branding yourself and your business?

I allowed fear to get the better of me. I procrastinated for many years in taking the leap of faith and going into business for myself. The biggest mistake I made in my business was trying to do everything myself (once again fear to spend on investing in proper branding/marketing initiatives), as any start-up business begins.

How will you do things differently in 2019 when it comes to personal branding?

Get out there and get visible on social media! I also need to educate my audience as to what I do and who I am. This year, my goal is to effectively communicate what I do as the South African market is not familiar with the term “virtual assistant”.

What advice do you have for women building their personal brand?

Do not be shy and truly embrace who you are.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

3. Briony Liber

Briony Liber

Career development coach.

How did you build your personal brand in 2018?

In 2018, I developed my personal brand largely through social media and talking at workshops and events. I post and engage quite a lot on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and make sure that it feeds back to my website. Through engaging on Twitter, I was invited to be a guest on several twitter chats. It was a lot of fun as well as good exposure. I was also invited to do a few talks to graduate students last year as a result of my engagement on LinkedIn. I volunteer on the Women in Mining South Africa (WIMSA) committee and through that involvement have been building a really good network.

What do regard as the most important element of your personal brand?

Confidence. When I am confident, I can bring my whole self to every situation. And the opposite is true – when I am not feeling confident it is incredibly easy for me to undermine my brand completely.

What are the biggest mistakes you made in branding yourself and your business?

Working from the basis of fear, and not having boundaries. Every time I made a decision out of fear like taken on a client that wasn’t right for me, doing work that wasn’t good at, taking on more than I have capacity for, it has never gone well. Or at the very least the outcome did not build my brand and my business.

How will you do things differently in 2019 when it comes to personal branding?

I will be focussing more on consistency and building a brand that is recognisable. I am also working towards getting my content onto third-party platforms so that I can increase the reach of my brand.

In 2019, I will be building on the foundations I have established in the last two years and working on consistent growth of private clients and the addition of one or two corporate clients by the end of the year. I am also developing an online course on “Managing your career like a business”, which I will be pilot testing this year.

Any hints and tips for fellow female entrepreneurs?

Get clear on who you are, what you stand for, what you will and won’t tolerate and what your story is. And then tell your story through every channel you can find. Stick to your values so that you become known as someone who stands for something, and keep advocating for yourself. Serve people before you try and sell to them and build a community around yourself or become part of a community. Having ambassadors for your brand is critical as we are definitely in a world where people value a personal recommendation.

Related: 13 Female Entrepreneurs Rising To The Top In SA

Lien Potgieter is a business coach specialising in colour therapy, and the author of Become Color Conscious and Transform your Experiences. Through her business, The Colour Option, Lien coaches 40+ women who want to start a business with a global reach. She helps her clients get clear on their purpose, unearth their hidden gifts, get unstuck, and build a thriving business. Get Lien’s Discover your Purpose worksheet here

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Branding

Brush Up On Your Personal Branding To Cement Your Success As An Entrepreneur

Check your life skills ratings in these three key everyday areas to see whether you need to pull back from the edge.

Richard Mukheibir

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personal-branding

When you run your own business, you are the brand champion and the brand ambassador – in fact, you are the brand. That is why in all the turmoil of start-up or getting a new product launched, you need to spare a moment to step back.

Think about how you are presenting to the world the brand that is so precious to you and that means so much for your future. Your clients certainly want to know and even see evidence that you are deeply committed to your brand. But there is a fine line between living the brand and letting the brand take you over and cloud your better judgement.

This is where personal branding becomes as important as your innovative product solutions or your customer service excellence. Edgy entrepreneur is one thing – but clients might shy away if they think that you have stepped over the edge and are more involved in process than delivery.

Check your life skills ratings in these three key everyday areas to see whether you need to pull back from the edge:

  1. Time management: Despite traffic problems or transport schedules, getting this right is vital. If you do not make it on time to an initial meeting with a client, this will raise alarm bells. The client’s immediate thought is, “Can I trust this person’s word about delivering on time?” Time is money and not being on time could ultimately cost you money.
  2. Look the part: If you look tired, dishevelled or have poor hygiene, instead of giving you a high five for pulling an all-nighter trying to troubleshoot a new product, clients might simply think that you do not fit with their corporate culture. Ask yourself if you even fit with your own corporate culture? Is this the way you want to present your brand and your business to the world?
  3. Clear the decks: You might just get away with your office or workshop looking like a tip where only you know where to find something. But do not let that attitude spill over into the world outside.

That apparently friendly and innocent courtesy of being escorted to your car by your host when you leave the meeting could cover them checking you out. Many business people judge potential service providers or partners by their car – not the brand but what it looks like.

Is it covered in dust and badly in need of a wash? Is it full of the rubbish of several lunches on the road and a muddle of paperwork? It is likely that they will deduce that this is how you run your business and how you would run your business relationship with them. In other words, the state of your car might get you the thumbs up or put an end to what had been a promising negotiation.

You can be how you like, do what you want when you are off duty. But when you are on your own business’s time, you are your own brand and you need to live up to it if you want to make your mark.

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Branding

5 Things You Can Do To ‘Humanise’ Your Brand

Face it: Consumers don’t automatically trust your brand or anyone else’s. Whaddaya gonna do?

Syed Balkhi

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branding

Let’s face it, consumers don’t trust brands. Most people view companies like faceless enemies; they’re just out to make money; they’re just telling us what we want to hear. So, if your company wants to win over more customers, you’ve got to get them to trust you.

In fact, according to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018, more than one in three consumers surveyed ranked “trust in brand” among the top three factors, other than price, influencing their decision to shop at a particular retailer. How do you get consumers to trust your company? You do it by showing them the human side of your brand. That will inspire more trust from consumers and boost your conversions.

To form meaningful relationships with your audience, check out these five ways to humanise your brand.

Show off your funny bone

netflix-tweet

One easy way is to show off your funny bone. According to researchers from the Turku PET Centre, Oxford and Aalto universities, social laughter leads to an endorphin release in the brain and may promote the establishment of social bonds. So, if laughter can make us feel good and encourage connections between people, you should consider using it to get the same results for your business.

Not a comedian yourself? Don’t worry; you can share popular and funny content that already exists. It’s what Netflix does when the media giant shares funny images from its shows.

Showing your more playful side will help consumers see that you’re not just a business focused on selling a product; you’re a human who can put aside your seriousness and have some fun.

Related: Boutique Branding Consultancy Morake Design House

Put your team members in the spotlight

Letting consumers see the people behind the business is a powerful way to humanise your brand. If consumers are looking at just your logo all the time, they might not see your brand as human. So, put your team members in the spotlight.

Shoot some quality photos of your staff members and display them on your website and your social media platforms. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer; iPhones today can take some pretty stunning shots. You might even share your employee of the month and include a story about what makes that staffer so great. Seeing the amazing people “behind the curtain” will help consumers put a face to the brand name.

Share user-generated content

Sharing user-generated content works to humanise your brand in two ways: First, it’s exciting and flattering to the user who gets his or her photo featured on your website or social media feed. Second, it shows other consumers that you have great relationships with their peers and that those people already enjoy your products.

Instead of being asked to blindly trust a company’s claims, consumers will see real-life people falling in love with your products, which will promote trust in your brand. Example? Airbnb does user-generated content well by sharing with its followers the amazing experiences its customers are having around the world.

airbnb-mozambique-holiday

If you don’t have any user-generated content, ask your customers for it. Do this in an email marketing campaign; add it to your branded packages for shipping; or create a post on social media encouraging users to take a photo of/with your product and share it in combination with a unique, branded hashtag.

Related: 5 Ways To Make Your Personal Branding Statement Stand Out

Tell authentic stories

Don’t spend all your time online just talking about how great your company is; humanise your brand by telling authentic stories. Sharing real stories about your failures, hardships and lessons that you’ve learned will help customers better relate and sympathise with you. According to Psychological Science, research suggests that shared pain may have positive social consequences; shared pain acts as a “social glue” to promote solidarity and togetherness between groups.

So, tell your target audience members stories that they can relate to, instead of simply presenting your brand as perfect. You could even share stories of your customers who previously struggled but then achieved success with help from your company/product. This will not only humanise your brand, but boost sales too.

Show appreciation for your customers

Letting your customers know that you care about and appreciate them is one of the best ways to humanise your brand. So, show appreciation for your best customers by sending them company swag or offering special discounts with a personalised message.

Buffer thanked one of its stand-out customers with not only company swag, but a personalised gift. I’m sure that those customers then became lifelong fans.

buffer-value-adds

Not every company can afford to send out swag to all of their best customers, but sending a gift to just a few of your rockstar fans can go a long way. For a less costly strategy, show appreciation to new customers by simply sending a welcome/thank you email. Not only will such appreciation for your customers humanise your brand, it’ll turn those customers into brand ambassadors.

Related: How A Branded Car Can Boost Your Business

Over to you

Be prepared for your business to have a lot more die-hard customers. With these tips for humanising your brand, consumers will be able to connect with your business, relate to you on a deeper level and want to have a relationship with your company for the long term.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Branding

How A Strong Brand Protects Your Business

Brand enthusiasts are welcome to follow Kyle Rolfe’s latest thoughts on brand building in South Africa and his analysis on relevant global trends and issues via Twitter @kylerolfeSA.

Kyle Rolfe

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intellectual-property

It is all too easy for small businesses to become victims of intellectual property theft and seeing their products and services copied by unscrupulous competitors. A clear case in point is that of Woolworths, which was recently accused of copying a baby carrier made by Ubuntu Baba, having a cheaper version made in China and selling it as its own in-house product.

Woolworths eventually apologised and withdrew its product, after Cape Town entrepreneur Shannon McLaughlin exposed similarities between the retailer’s baby carrier and that made by her company, Ubuntu Baba.

Small business owners can protect themselves from having their products or services copied by developing a strong and unique brand.

Brand uniqueness and an authentically developed product will give you a level of protection in the market, as it will be more difficult for a competitor to copy your offering.

What small business owners should avoid is the “white label solution”. This is taking any product, even one manufactured overseas, and putting your own branding and packaging on it and reselling it as your own.

There is nothing stopping your competitor from sourcing that same product and putting their branding on it and selling it as their own. In this case, as a small business owner, you would have no recourse.

Ubuntu Baba’s unique brand and authentically developed product, designed and manufactured locally, is what helped the small business successfully take on a giant retailer like Woolworths. They didn’t simply take someone else’s product and rebrand it as their own, they actually designed and built their own product.

A unique brand and product will position you as more than just a reseller and will give you a certain level of strength and protection in the market. It allows clients to differentiate you from your competitors and can also positively affect their purchasing decisions, directly impacting your profitability.

Effective branding, that is well defined and distinct, will not only help build your reputation, but it will also make you stand out from the competition.

Ultimately, your brand is your business identity. It is the image that you show to your client, making it one of your company’s most valuable assets. Effective branding portrays a company’s values and attracts the right client.

A strong brand identity also has the benefit of making your company appear bigger and stronger than your competition and consumers are generally attracted to well-established companies. So, ask yourself whether your branding conveys professionalism, reliability and trust.

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