Branding is not something that only benefits corporations; on the contrary, it’s something that any business must have in order to be successful. That includes entrepreneurs, but their branding must be of a more personal variety.
When done well, personal branding will elevate your success exponentially. There’s one reason in particular why this is true: many people prefer the personal touch – they want to buy from those whom they’re familiar with. If they respect, like and trust you, they’re more likely to buy from you.
For this to happen, you need to help them understand who you are and what you are about. This is personal branding. It doesn’t sound too complicated, but actually, it takes understanding, time, and effort. Here’s why so many entrepreneurs are failing at it:
1. They don’t fully believe in themselves.
Let’s start with the premise that people will often believe about you what you believe about yourself. Having said that, even if you think you’ve got the show on the road, others may take a little more convincing. One thing is for sure: if you don’t believe in yourself, they certainly won’t either.
When developing your personal brand, you must be certain about who you are and what you can offer – and it must be an authentic understanding, rather than a concept. Keep in mind that there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance: one is a turn-off, while the other is fuel for your brand.
So, you must put yourself out there with confidence and courage. When you set out with the notion that your brand can and will be great, the magic is more likely to happen. Doubt is a killer, in all areas of life. Of course, you will make a few mistakes along the way. This is normal, and it will help you grow. Confidence also means recognizing that you’ll overcome hurdles with grace.
2. They don’t really know what personal branding is.
The professional branding that applies to corporations is very different from that which an entrepreneur must create. Your brand is not so much about your actual business, products, and services, but how people perceive the person behind it.
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos said that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. You need to figure out what you want people to be saying about you. How you feel about yourself is not as important as how others are going to feel about you. It may not be easy to bridge that gap unless you can find out how you are perceived from the offset.
Talking to other people is the best way to do this; asking for honest opinions about how you are perceived is a good idea. Once you understand the reality of how people see you, you’re in a better position to manipulate it for the better.
3. They don’t develop a strategy.
Strategies are important for almost every area of business, so your personal brand will also require a sound strategy. Consider that everything you do will reflect on your brand in some way. If you want yours to be remembered, it has to be unique, and this won’t happen by accident.
Right from the start, you must define who you wish to be. You should be very clear on this: who are you, and what do you stand for? It’s a creative process and one that should be clear in your mind. Making a mission statement will help with this, and it doubles up as a strategy in some ways – like a synopsis on who you want to become and what you want to achieve.
You should consider how you’re going to make yourself visible to your audience. How will you reach them? What kind of messages will you send to them? What is it about you that is different from your competition and how will you make this understood?
4. Their branding is inconsistent.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to destroy your personal branding efforts, it’s inconsistency. Your customers will expect to see a clear, consistent logo and color scheme across all channels, but that isn’t all. How you present yourself in terms of communication is equally important.
Your brand should have a specific voice that reflects it. It might be authoritative and professional, or it might be casual and humorous. When brands swing between different communication styles on their social media, email and web content, it confuses people. They don’t know who you are, and will find it harder to take you seriously.
5. They don’t make the best of social channels
Although it might seem intimidating to open more social media channels than the basic set of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, it can be a good move. This is a numbers game, essentially. It makes sense that the more channels a brand operates through, the more attention they’ll get, and from a much wider audience.
Brands that limit themselves to the minimal number of social media channels are potentially doing themselves a disservice. Obviously, it takes more time and effort to operate consistently on more channels, but successful brands know that they must invest at least some resources in this kind of strategy. It is smart to dedicate some time to development of each new channel so that it gives your brand genuine presence.
Be careful what you post, as it may well affect how you’re perceived overall.
6. Their communication leaves a lot to be desired.
Just because who you are and what you do is obvious to you, it may not be to other people. They may not really be looking in detail anyway unless you’re giving them a good reason to. If you aren’t spending enough time and effort on communicating with people thoroughly, it won’t be effective.
If people are making incorrect assumptions about you, your vision or your actions, it could mean trouble for your brand. Communicating is not about doing all the talking, but also plenty of listening. You can inspire people to communicate with you by asking the right kind of questions in the first place.
If you’re interested in your audience, you’ll try to engage them – through social media and in person. They’ll be happy to talk about themselves and their interests… most people are! When you engage them in such positive ways, they’ll remember and like you. These are the kind of details that precede the achievements you seek.
7. They don’t seek out constructive criticism.
Development will probably be ongoing for some time, if not always. If your aim is positive growth, that won’t be intimidating. To develop, it’s important to get a clear picture of how your efforts are being received.
For this, communication is crucial. You must be prepared to ask for constructive feedback and insights from those you trust to be honest with you. You don’t necessarily need to take every single opinion on board, but it will certainly help to consider it – especially if you are seeing patterns in what people are saying.
When you use feedback to grow, your brand will grow much more quickly. It’s a process of gradually developing into the person you wish to be, regardless of how long it takes.
8. They forget about offline marketing.
In today’s digital world, it’s true that most brand development and marketing happens online. Granted, when people want to find out about brands like yours, they search for you online. With good marketing efforts, you’ll reach the right people online too. To have no online presence would be a death wish for a new brand, but that doesn’t mean online is everything.
There are plenty of clever ways to reach people outside of the internet. Your brand may have a local audience just waiting to interact. What your local community thinks of your brand could actually be very important. The people who are physically closest to you are going to be easy to reach, too.
Online marketing strategies can differ significantly from those done offline, and the content may need to be designed quite differently. One idea would be to do local presentations or networking events, which gives people a chance to connect with you on a more personal level. They are much more likely to remember your brand fondly if they like you in person; this can extend your networks rapidly.
Getting your personal brand right is imperative for success…
Virgin giant Richard Branson once said that branding demands commitment to continual reinvention. He knows well that it’s crucial to strike chords with your audience to invoke the emotions that connect them to you. With time and word of mouth, this will happen more easily.
You must be resilient, confident, imaginative, open to change, and very communicative. These things are not so difficult – they just require discipline and commitment. If you truly believe in your personal brand, these things will come more naturally anyway.
Author: Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler — a scheduling and payroll software platform founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.
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