If I ask you to think of several of your favourite brands, what springs to mind? Your favourite cereal brands? Favourite chocolate bars? Favourite clothing brands? There are so many different labels, and they each have a unique take on a product. So why do certain names stick out in your mind?
It’s because they have done a great job of “branding” themselves: situating themselves in your mind as the superior product to fulfill your needs. These brands have worked hard to create brand awareness, a buzz about their specific brand or label. In some cases, brand names have even taken over the name of the product itself! (Band-aids and Kleenex spring to mind).
Even in your own career, personal branding plays a huge part in your successes (and, consequently, your failures). Having a “personal brand” is a great way to assure quality and make people remember you. Just like when I say “your favourite shoes” and one brand in particular springs to mind, you want to have the same effect on your customers and your target market. There are many ways you can ensure a positive and successful personal brand:
Manage your online reputation
This is a pretty big one in terms of attracting potential customers. If someone runs a Google search on you or your business, you want positive things to come up. You don’t want incriminating photos all over the page or a stupid message you wrote to soil your online reputation. The main message in all of this is to THINK BEFORE YOU POST!
There are several ways you can go about managing your online reputation:
- Conduct a quick search on yourself and your brand to see what comes up. This is a great way to know what people are going to see when they Google you or your brand’s name.
- Delete old profiles. You don’t need a profile on an “I love teenage things” website if you’re 28 and haven’t used it since the 12th grade. In most cases, if you’ve forgotten the password, you can contact the site’s admin and have your profile deleted.
- Change your privacy settings. Make sure that all your social profiles are set to “private” so that only people you approve can see what you’re posting. This way, you can monitor what is posted on your personal versus your professional profile.
- Be careful who you are friends with or following! If your business promotes equality but you are following a group that doesn’t promote equal rights, it doesn’t exactly send the best message to potential clients.
Consider how you make others feel
What can you or your brand offer to others that nobody else can? Focus on one strength to attribute to your personal brand. You want to be the person that is known for doing one thing really, really, really well as opposed to being able to do many things in an average way. You want to stand out! What are people going to notice about you and your brand?
Know your product or service and sell it well
Whatever you’re selling, know and sell it well. How would you feel if you went to the doctor and he Googled your symptoms to find out what might be causing it? My bet is that you wouldn’t feel very confident in his abilities. You need to know your service inside and out and you need to be able to answer questions immediately and without hesitation to instill confidence in your clients. Remember that you’re the expert (that’s why you’re selling your service)! There are many ways you can exercise your authority on matters in your industry:
- Blog about it. Take the time to start a blog on your website and regularly write about industry news, tidbits that people might find interesting, and occasionally about what your business up to. This sets you up as a relatable, knowledgeable, and credible source.
- Subscribe to different industry news sources. You want to be the one advising clients on the latest industry trends, not the other way around.
- Constantly learn. Your education doesn’t stop when you leave school!
Ensure consistency across all platforms
If you’ve branded yourself as “Martha Baxter, Makeup Artist”, that’s the name you should be using across all platforms. Don’t shorten it to “MB, MUA” unless that’s the brand name you want. Pick something and stick with it. This goes for all platforms where your brand is present:
- Social media, like Facebook and Twitter
- On the phone when you or someone else is taking calls
- Printed advertising
- Other marketing efforts such as e-newsletters
- With vendors: don’t say the order is for Martha Baxter, say the full brand name
Let the experts take care of it
Many people, when they first start out, make the mistake of trying to do it all themselves. If you’re opening a business in event planning, your specialization is event planning. It isn’t graphic design or book balancing. While these can mean extra costs at the outset, it is often better to set things up well in the first place than have to re-do them later, which often costs more time and money. If you’re aiming at creating your own website and balancing your own books, get expert advice before you start!
You want to present the best version of you that you can. You want your brand to be known for positive influences rather than negative ones and to stand out for the exceptional service that you provide. Keeping your reputation online in mind, you want to craft a brand that instills confidence in your clients and your audience!