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5 Ways To Make Your Personal Branding Statement Stand Out

If you have a LinkedIn account, you have a brand statement. But does it make you easily discoverable and motivate others to connect?

Mel Carson

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personal-branding

If you’re reading this, you likely already have a personal branding statement: If you have a LinkedIn account, for instance, you have a branding statement. But, is yours the kind of summary that makes you easily discoverable and motivates others to reach out and connect?

Maybe yes, but maybe no.

A strong personal branding statement is connected to your professional purpose, or the reason you do what you do. While your professional purpose serves as an internal compass, pointing your passion in the right direction, a personal branding statement is above all your calling card.

It’s the first impression of you that you offer on paper and the thing on which many will base their “Do I engage or not?” decision.

So, yes, your branding statement is a big deal. It’s a living statement about you, your passions and your capabilities and should therefore be written with thought and care. But, honestly, for all that’s riding on crafting a strong branding statement, it’s not that hard to do.

Here are five quick ways to make sure yours stands out in a crowd.

Move beyond your professional purpose

Do you have a professional purpose? A statement that describes the why behind your work? If you don’t, that’s step one.  A personal branding statement combines your purpose with some relevant data about your professional world to accurately describe who you are, what you do and why you do it. To gather that data, take a few minutes to free-write about the following:

  • Your education experience
  • Your work experience
  • What you love about what you do
  • What you find hard about what you do
  • Where you want to be in three years

Here’s the formula: purpose + data = personal branding statement.

Related: The 3 Biggest Mistakes CEOs Make With Their Personal Brand (And How To Turn Those Mistakes Around)

Pull out the mission

This is your opportunity to be bold and clear about what direction you want your career to go in. Look at all the information you’ve written down and use it to flesh out a mission – this should be a powerful sentence or phrase that tells people who you are.

Your mission sentence can be helpful for two reasons: It serves as a personal reminder to you and carries with it an element of accountability, but also helps prospective employers or clients quickly assess if you’d be a good match or not.

Identify your value

Within your personal branding statement, identify your professional value.

A subjective term, this “value” could be described in the following ways: Your experience, industry expertise, noteworthy clients, education level and personal passion.

At this juncture, I would encourage you to take a moment and empathise with prospective clients, customers and employers. What would be a strong value indicator in your field of work? What are they looking for? Don’t be fictitious, of course (an immediate career killer); but do be choosy. Include points of value geared toward both your professional career goals and your industry niche.

Be real

Sounds simple, right? Be real, be you, but it’s it one of the hardest things to do. Writing about ourselves is uncomfortable. It’s difficult to find the right balance between not saying enough and saying too much. Here are a couple of pieces of advice I would offer toward the goal of being real:

  • Avoid the fluff and stay away from fancy claims you can’t back up. They will bite back.
  • Stay away from buzzwords. (Here’s a list of words to avoid in your LinkedIn profile.) They will do the opposite of what you intended.
  • Be self-aware and write a statement that accurately reflects your experience, passions and capabilities. Simplicity is OK. Short statements are, too.

Here’s an example of my own personal branding statement broken down: “Focusing on helping businesses and individuals achieve success through enduring social media, digital PR and personal branding strategies …”

Next, I put the customer (my target audience) first and mention my fields of expertise: “My 18 years of online advertising industry experience and seven years at Microsoft as digital marketing evangelist, enable me to provide counsel to my clients that is truly relevant, robust and real-time.”

Notice that I make sure to draw attention to my seven years at Microsoft (a value indicator) and state my mission:  “Always striving to keep pace with the ever-changing nature of digital media and technology, I aim to improve my clients’ competitive position through partnership, tenacity and accountability.”

I continue on about my mission, but also describe my aim for achieving clarity, using my own words without sounding over-stated.

Related: Personal Brand Or Business Brand: Which Is More Important?

Revisit the statement on a quarterly basis

Your personal branding statement should grow with you.  As you rise in your career and work with new, interesting clients, take on new projects or learn a valuable skill, your personal branding statement should reflect those changes. I would encourage you to revisit it every three months or so to double-check that your purpose, mission and values still ring true in the present day.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Mel Carson is founder of Delightful Communications, a Seattle-based social-media-strategy, digital-PR and personal-branding consulting firm. He is co-author of Pioneers of Digital and speaks about digital marketing and communications at conferences globally. He spent seven years at Microsoft as its digital-marketing evangelist.

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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Branding

Young People Will Reward Brands That Take A Stand

A new generation of consumers are choosing to engage with the brands that share their values and beliefs.

Kian Bakhtiari

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young-people

Through much of the last century, advertising obligated people to pay attention to what brands have to say. A handful of television, radio or newspaper channels left the public with no choice but to consume the message that was being communicated. In short, attention was easy to capture, and consumers were powerless to the will of big business.

In the 21st century, we face an entirely new reality – thanks to the internet and the near universal use of social media and digital devices. Nowadays, consumers are confronted with an infinite number of choices; turning attention into one of the most valuable commodities. This is why some of the world’s biggest brands are struggling to connect with people in a meaningful way, in spite of spending billions on advertising.

The power has shifted from brands to the people

Today, online advertising is getting in the way of what people actually want to do with their lives; whether it’s reading an article, watching a documentary or surfing the web. As a consequence, ad-blocking is becoming the new normal. More than 12 million people are blocking adverts in the U.K alone. Unsurprisingly, the highest rate is amongst 16-24-year olds. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that this behaviour is only going to rise with the emergence of a digitally native generation that expects to control every aspect of their online experience.

Like most things in life, this is obvious to the man or woman on the streets, but news to the marketing department. As someone who works in advertising myself: I have experienced at first-hand the amount of time, effort and resources that goes into crafting an advertising campaign. Only for it to be summarily executed at a swipe of a button by one of my friends. Young people’s distaste for adverts also helps to explain the meteoric rise of subscription-based services like Netflix, Spotify and Twitch. These platforms act as a safe house from the constant barrage of adverts.

Related: Robert Kiyosaki on Building Brand Mystique

Young people are engaging with brands that share their values and beliefs

Instead, young people are choosing to engage with the brands that share their values and beliefs. In fact, 64 percent of consumers around the world now buy on belief. At the same time, one in two will choose, switch or boycott a brand based on its stand on a societal issue. The consumers of today are more informed and empowered than ever before. They have all the tools at their disposal to control the relationship they want to have with brands. In this new age of Information, it’s no longer enough to communicate a message, in the hope that it will resonate. To remain relevant, brands need to talk less and do more for people and planet.

The brands that have a purpose beyond profit will not only survive but thrive in this new age of conscious consumerism. Research carried out by Havas shows that meaningful brands have outperformed the stock market by 206 percent over the last 10 years. Enlightened brands recognise this reality and are transforming their entire modus operandi to meet young consumers changing expectation.

You only have to look at Adidas’s pledge to use 100 percent recycled plastic by 2024, Unilever’s mission to Improve health and well-being for more than 1 billion people and Ikea’s ambition of becoming climate positive by 2030. The results are also clear to see: Adidas sold 1 million shoes made of ocean plastic last year, Unilever’s sustainable brands are growing 50 percent faster than the rest of business and Ikea has seen sustainable product sales grow to a cool $1.9 billion.

What it all means

Historically, the role of a brand has been to simplify people’s increasingly busy lives. Today, that’s no longer enough. Young people expect brands to go beyond selling products, services or increasing profit for shareholders. They expect them to stand up for something, to improve lives and to play an active role in tackling global poverty, inequality, and climate change.

Doing good is not only the right thing to do but also a commercial imperative. For brands, this requires a move away from Corporate Social Responsibility — since under such initiatives, doing good is often separated from the core function of the business. In its place, brands need to make their products and services in a way which benefits people, planet and profit by taking responsibility for the overall value chain.

The brands that manage to adapt to this new reality will end up being richly rewarded with a natural place in popular culture, a deeper connection with consumers, business growth and longevity.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Branding

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

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