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Unleash the Power of Personal Branding

Whether you know it or not, everything you do in business tells people about your own personal brand.

Juliet Pitman

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Brand power is something most businesspeople are aware of and try to harness. We spend big marketing budgets trying to build a product brand, increase brand value and maintain brand integrity. But what many people are not aware of is that they themselves are brands.

Your personal brand is perhaps more powerful than any product brand – it’s on show all the time and everything you do, from the way you dress to how you speak, reflects either positively or negatively on your brand.

Thinking about yourself as a brand is the first step to strengthening your personal brand value. You need to come up with a brand promise and brand values, in the same way you would do for your business. Your brand promise is based on the extrinsic and intrinsic qualities of your brand – how you dress, speak, present and represent yourself creates an expectation in, or brand promise to, the people you meet. So think about the extrinsic and intrinsic brand values you would most like people to associate with you and your business.

It runs deeper than mere appearances, but self-presentation is important. Hein Kaiser, National Account Director, Marcus Brewster Publicity JHB, points out: “Remember the adage that you are what you eat. The same rules apply to presentation. First impressions last, and humans are visual creatures.”

Kaiser points out that presentation is the frontline of any brand or business. So it’s important that presentation, be it of your person, your documentation or any collateral that is associated with your brand, falls in line with the intrinsic and extrinsic values that you have determined for your brand.

Building a personal brand is two-pronged. Approaching yourself as a brand and thinking about the values you want to encompass is only half the job done. The next step is to start delivering on the values that you have created for your brand. “Customers want to see that you live your message,” says Kaiser. The strength of your brand will be determined by how well you deliver on what your brand promises people.

Looking the part but not playing it can be more detrimental than you think. How many times have you heard people complain of someone who “talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk”? It makes you appear untrustworthy and nothing can be more detrimental to your business than that. This is why it’s important that the things your brand promises are things you can actually deliver on. Don’t choose values for your brand that you don’t subscribe to – it will make living them out impossible. Keep it simple, and then live it.

Building a Personal Brand

Use these five tips to build and maintain your personal brand:

  1. Think of yourself as a brand – you are one, on show all the time!
  2. Create your own brand promise and brand values. Live them every day.
  3. The way you dress, speak, present and represent yourself are your brand promise deliverables. Be constantly aware of them.
  4. Presentation is the frontline of a brand: your person, your documentation or any collateral associated with you. A brand leader is consistent and dependable.
  5. Deliver on the values you have created for your brand. Under-promise and over-deliver.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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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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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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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.

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The First Thing You Should Do When Building Your Brand (Hint: It Isn’t Pick Out A Logo)

The best way to build your brand is to start from the inside out.

Rebecca Horan

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When you’re launching a new business, it’s tempting to go straight to the fun stuff – the logo, the colours, the mood board. But, before going down the Pinterest rabbit hole, it’s important to establish the core purpose and belief system of your brand.

Indeed, studies show that companies with purpose grow twice as fast as those with a low sense of purpose. So, a beautifully designed visual brand identity without a clearly defined purpose is like an exquisitely wrapped present that’s … well, empty.

Despite this, a Gallup survey shows that only 41 percent of workers know what their company stands for and how it differs from competitor brands. That’s a problem. Because informed and engaged employees are often the front line ambassadors for a brand, this disconnect can lead to customer confusion or worse, indifference. The snazziest logo in the world can’t save the business that neglects the heart of its brand.

As a brand strategist, one of the first steps I take in developing entrepreneurs’ brands is to help them to establish their core purpose. Having a clearly defined and expressed purpose not only serves as an internal compass that guides their decision-making and strategic direction, but it also acts as a beacon for their ideal customers – making it easier to understand, relate to and remember what the business represents.

Related: Are You A Commodity Or A Brand?

The best way to build your brand is to start from the inside out. It’s like constructing a building: You need a strong foundation. The following three steps will help you to understand and articulate the heart and soul of your brand.

1. Create your mission statement

Articulating your mission is one of the most important, yet often overlooked steps in creating a powerful brand. Simply put, your mission reflects what you’ve set out to do.

What makes a great mission statement? It should be clear, provide some strategic direction and inspire. When crafting your mission, think about your business goals, the value you’d like to bring, whom you serve and how you do it. Ideally, your mission will also be clear enough for people outside your organisation to understand and concise enough for you – and your employees – to remember.

Let’s take a look at how Honest Tea does it:

“Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages. We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our recipes, with sustainability and great taste for all.”

The first sentence describes what’s being produced (great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages), while the second sentence touches on important elements of the value the business brings (honesty, integrity and sustainability) and who it serves (for all).

After you’ve written your mission statement, revisit it regularly as you build your brand. You might find that it needs some tweaks as your business grows.

define-your-vision

2. Define your vision

If mission is the “what,” then your brand’s vision is the “why.” Your vision is a future-focused statement that paints a vivid picture of what the world will look like once you’ve accomplished your mission. It’s not just inspirational, it’s aspirational. Rallying around a powerful vision can help everyone in an organisation stay motivated, inspired and focused on the big picture when things get tough.

A great way to approach the vision statement is to think about the ultimate impact of the product or service you provide. A good strategy is to focus on the benefit of what you offer. Then dig a little deeper … What is the benefit of that benefit? Keep going until you have a clear picture of what the future will look like when you’ve succeeded. Above all, think big.

Ikea’s vision is:

“To create a better everyday life for the people.”

It’s a deceptively simple-looking statement. For anyone familiar with Ikea, the explanatory statement that follows is unnecessary, but it explains each component of the simple vision statement:

“Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”

Related: How To Build A Community Around Your Brand

3. Identify your values

Your brand (or core) values are like the pillars of your company. They are going to help guide your organisation’s actions, influence the workplace culture, help your team to make sourcing and hiring decisions and ultimately impact customer loyalty. Why? Because it’s in our nature to want to align ourselves with people, products and organisations that share our values.

Think about what you stand for – and what you’ll never compromise on. Consider the beliefs and qualities that have a unique, direct and meaningful impact on the way you do business. While there’s no “magic number,” for brand values, more than five can be difficult to remember and internalise, and fewer than three isn’t really enough to give the full picture of your business.

Once you’ve determined your brand values, write them as statements that exemplify how they’re implemented in your business. A great example of this is Starbucks’ values:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.

Imagine the difference if they had simply listed words like “Inclusion,” “Courage,” “Transparency” and “Accountability,” instead of illustrating these concepts with these descriptive sentences.

It’s not enough to simply slap some values up on your website and call it a day. Successful business owners know that it’s all in the implementation. We must weave our brand’s mission, vision and values into the fabric of our business. Everything we do and say, from our offerings to our marketing to our hiring approach, should not only align with, but reinforce our mission, vision and values.

Once you’ve laid the foundation, other elements, like a logo, will come easier to you, your team and any outside partners.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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