In this day and age, every person is a brand. We see numerous influential individuals making big waves in social media and acting as internet celebrities and reputable experts. Their success was the result of meticulous planning and commitment. Like it or not, you also leave a trace online and make a certain impression. So, you can either shape the perception other people have of you, or let the chips fall where they may. The latter approach is not the way to go, not if you are experiencing a career slump or feel stuck in the loop. It is time to build a name for yourself. Here is how to actively craft and manage your image and reap various benefits.
Test the digital waters
Before anything else, get crystal clear on what your goals are. Ask the following questions: What do you hope to achieve with your branding efforts? How would you like to be seen by others? To answer them, first assess your current reputation. The simplest way to do this is to type your name in Google and see how you hold up. Maybe you’re not even able to find anything, especially if you have a common name. In any case, work out a plan on how to improve your digital presence. One of the main objectives is to boost your visibility and exposure.
Unveiling your persona
You can align your branding strategy with expectations and preferences of the target audience. At the same time, though, you have to remain genuine and truthful. In other words, your brand should be a reflection of who you are and what you stand for. Uncover a unique internet persona and its visual presentation. Infuse it in everything you do, be it sending personalized wedding invitations, designing business cards, editing a photo for your next post, or writing an email. Achieving consistency across all channels and touch points is the key to grabbing the attention and nurturing the trust.
Channeling your brand
Nowadays, there is no end to different networks you can take advantage of. Also, bear in mind that it is possible to use your own website or blog as a branding base of operations. But, it is not advisable to spread yourself too thin. For starters, identify online avenues that your audience frequents. Set up profiles on a few key hubs and focus all your attention there. Establish gateways between these accounts and the rest of your cyber real estate. Their synergy is likely to produce maximum traction and exposure.
Pouring in substance
Next, it’s time to optimize your profiles and pages. Use striking images and enthralling visuals to stand out in the overcrowded landscape. Pay special attention to the crown jewels of your brand, such as the profile and cover photo. Note that posts that have high-quality photos tend to generate way more likes, shares, comments, and retweets. Apart from the benefits of traction, all these social signals lead to a better ranking. Of course, well-written statuses and articles help your cause as well. Promotion through content is generally one of the most effective strategies you can use.
In the great digital outdoors, constant interaction is what gives you a real fighting chance. So, join the relevant groups in your industry/niche and engage in discussions. Answer peoples’ queries and questions. Keep up the pace with news and trends. Give people fresh and honest takes on popular topics. Become influential in your field and attain the reputation of an expert. If you manage to assume a distinguished position of a go-to source of information, you can foster a loyal community. Also, make sure to discover key influencers in the area and connect with them.
Moving up in ranking
People have grown weary of perpetual and aggressive advertising. They want to establish meaningful connections with brands, be it corporate or personal ones. And as you may know, the vast majority of the internet users search the web using powerful engines like Google. Hence, to take your branding game to the next level, you have to rank there, and you have to rank high. For this reason, get familiar with good SEO tactics that drive organic traffic your way. Thus, you will make the most of content marketing and never sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. That being said, you should try to update your profiles on a regular basis.
A dazzling beacon
How you come across via the internet can have a profound impact on your professional life. To cut through the immense noise out there and reach your goals, you have to work hard and show perseverance. Reputation and image are never set in stone, and they require constant maintenance. Start by figuring out who you are and who you want to speak to. Create robust social media profiles and fine-tune your blog/website. Position yourself within your field of expertise to rise above the layers of generic and average. Master the art of storytelling and let your unique persona shine. Eventually, you will forge a stellar brand and use it as a vehicle for success.
Olivia is psychologist and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs. She is passionate writer, a traveler and conscious consumer, seeking healthy and sustainable products to incorporate into the lives of her family. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
When doing business as yourself, it can be hard to know where lines need to be drawn between your personal life and your business.
For most, it can be impossible. Part of how you built your notoriety up to begin with probably started with word of mouth and personal recommendations. As you grow and choose to expand, do you continue to keep pace with putting your personal self out on the social media line or do you make a plan to transition to the collective and camouflaging “we” of doing business.
The short answer is that it just depends. Let’s look at a few guiding factors.
Personality and Uniqueness
Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one youer than you.”
In the freelancing world, your personality, voice, and uniqueness are the things that will make you stand out. A lot of people like to do your type of business with a familiar face.
They want to know the person taking their family photos or designing a logo. They want the the warmth of a personal relationship and the personal recommendation from a friend. So in this case, building on your personality is a dynamite plan of action for freelancers. A great way of using personalised branding is using something like US Imprints Koozies. They’re basically personalised drinks holders, but you can personalise them with your company logo or slogan. They’re eye catching and I can almost guarantee no one with a similar business to you is using them as a form of marketing. Make them personal and unique, and everyone will want to know who you and your business are. When you have a business, you’ll want to make sure that you can build and grow it. There are many ways that this can be done, not just through personalised drink holders. For example, there are marketing companies out there that can help you with this, so if this is something of interest to you then you could check out The Top Class Agency here to help you with this form of marketing.
As a business owner, you are also permitted to push the envelope when it comes to your digital presence. You get to interact with people online as a living, breathing person, and not the collective “we” of a larger business.
What Does Your Client Prefer
When beginning a business plan, it’s always advisable to take a really long look at your target audience. Who does your target audience prefer to do business with?
Are they formal? Would they prefer the careful marketing of a well-oiled business? Do they prefer working directly with a person and hearing a familiar voice on the phone every time they call? While this may not be your sole marker for making the decision on how to brand, analyzing your clientele effectively will never steer you wrong.
As you further get to know those you are working for, you can fine tune your branding approach and grow your social platforms to cast a wider net.
Selling Yourself (Short)
Another factor when deciding how to brand is whether or not you can sell yourself and your services appropriately.
Can you strike deals that are worth your time and effort without apologizing or flinching? The answer to this question will determine whether you should keep it personal or go the business route.
You don’t want to make the mistake of building up your likability only to let that be a disadvantage when it comes to closing a deal.
If you feel like your business will be more lucrative with a business brand, then think through the sacrifices you are making by moving it in that direction.
What Does the Future Hold?
Will you always be a one-man show? If yes, then a personal brand is your yellow brick road. If you intend to grow and build a thriving business then it’s probably best to head out the gate with that type of branding.
It would be difficult to become a household name and go through the painful and uncertain process of rebranding once your endeavor exceeds your solitary abilities. You can still start out with a unique approach and use word-of-mouth to drum up business.
Those initial successes will be residuals from your personal branding up to this point, but have a strategy for reaching clients while maintaining a warm persona.
Freelancing businesses are often one person’s pursuit that involves a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. The decisions surrounding branding are critical as you begin to get clients and want to expand your reach.
Deciding whether to keep with a personal branding style or break out into a business model depends a lot on what your goal is. Either way, you have to take a look at what your online reputation is doing for you right now.
Analyzing your target clientele and who they prefer to do business with is a great first step. Then you can dream about your goals. Do you want to run your photography business as a one man show where clients always do business directly with you? Or would you rather grow the reach and employee base of your company by hiring and turning it into more of a small business?
Ultimately, understanding your clients and what kind of business you want to represent are the most important questions to answer when deciding how you should market your freelance business.
Sabrina Clark is a proud Marist College alum with degrees specializing in public relations, business administration and Spanish. While at Marist, she co-founded the Marist Student Entrepreneur Network to support students with entrepreneurial aspirations. Upon graduation, she accepted a marketing position with a tech startup focused on the home improvement industry where she managed integrated marketing, sales and strategic partnership initiatives. She is excited to now be a part of the BrandYourself team and help sculpt the future of the online reputation management industry.
I remember interviewing for my first “professional” job more than 20 years ago. I was preparing to interview for a Receptionist position in a small adhesives manufacturing company. Perusing the local newspaper, my eyes fell on this position, I knew I could do the job, I circled the ad and dialed the phone number.
Preparing for my upcoming interview, I went shopping for a new navy suit, wrote my first resume and practiced smiling in the mirror. My confident and jovial phone skills helped me earn an interview. I brought my enthusiasm with me as I stepped through the glass doors of the office. I met with the President and General Manager who took turns tossing questions my way. Thankfully I was prepared for this volleyball match. I even had to pretend to answer the phone. I was hired! My new home away from home for the next 4 years.[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Reputation is the foundation of your personal brand.[/pullquote]I gained a lot of valuable knowledge about myself from that experience. I learned how impactful verbal and nonverbal skills are when presenting myself either on an interview, a meeting or any client facing interaction. This was my first epiphany of understanding the importance of and building my own personal brand. Like a corporate brand, our personal brand is how others perceive and trust us. We buy name brands such as Johnson & Johnson because it represents several generations of quality family products. Same holds true for our personal brand. People buy from you or me based on those same ideals.
Fast forward to today. The art of building your personal brand still entails verbal and nonverbal skills. However, technology and social media have added a new twist to self-promotion.
Think about your clients. Are most of them doing business with you because of their relationship with you or your company? I am sure your answer is, the relationship with you. Reputation is the foundation of your personal brand. So how do you create and maintain your personal brand? After more than 2 decades of corporate growth, from receptionist to business owner and entrepreneur, here is what I have learned:
1. Choose your attitude
This is one of the 4 tenets of the famous Fish! Philosophy by John Christensen. No one says that everything is going to be easy, but it is better to go into a situation with a positive attitude than that of fear and defeat. People feed off of the energy you emit. Choose happiness!
2. Care about what you wear
As an Image Consultant, always ask my clients: “You have 3 seconds to make a great first impression – what would you like everyone to see?” If you show up to a meeting dressed inappropriately, i.e. ripped jeans and a t-shirt, the first impression will be a lack of interest in the client. However, showing up in a professional outfit sends the message here I am, I care about you and I am ready to do business. Remember you want to choose the right attitude internally and externally.
3. “Social-ize” with intention
Look at your local paper, the job ads have dwindled to barely a half a page if there are any listings at all. Our need to network via the “virtual” or social media conversation is just as important as meeting peers face-to-face.
Employers and job seekers use social sites such as LinkedIn, to post jobs and screen candidates. HR departments do their best to ‘Google’ prospective hires to see where their names are linked to. Be intentional with whom you connect. Link to colleagues you know, or maybe professionals you do not know, but they are in your field or target market. Follow and comment on relevant blogs or even start your own. Being known as an expert in your field is one reason you get hired.
4. First Impressions
Building rapport by attending multiple social events is an effective way to establish your referral base. This is where your first impression is most important. Confidently introduce yourself with smiling eyes and a strong handshake. Remember, as they say, “it’s who you know!”
Where personal appearance and personality is the aesthetic side of the interview process, your resume provides the facts. Address, work experience, education and contact information are necessary to reinforce why the potential employer is interviewing you. Take time to research strong key words to describe your previous job functions as well as hitting that spell check to look for errors. Too many spelling errors send the message – I am careless.
We promote our personal brands everyday in our professional lives. Our appearance, attitudes, in-person and social media conversations are all aspects a prospective employer or client uses as building blocks to establish respect and trust. It takes more than a phone call to get noticed. You need to take a stand to be heard.
Lisa Shorr’s mission is to inspire confidence through image and fashion. Understanding that style is unique to each person, she empowers each individual, client or group to align with who they are mentally and physically, with how they dress. As the owner of two businesses (Shorr Style & Secure Future Tech Solutions), Speaker, Writer, Marketer and Mom, Lisa’s consistent message focuses on the importance of our own “Personal Brands” – always presenting ourselves authentically and stylishly to achieve success! Lisa believes your voice is more than what you say it is how you say it both in tone and appearance. Together let’s sing!
Photo courtesy Flickr
Maybe you believe you can brand yourself, maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t even know how to define a brand. Do I mean branding livestock or do I mean a brand like Zappos?
The word brand began simply as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. Then brand became the identity of a specific product, service or business. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity – i.e. the personality of a person or a company behind the product or service.
A brand can be a business, state employee, retiree, stay at home mom, etc.
A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination, tagline, signature outfit, signature style, etc.
Now that you are understanding what a brand is, let’s go over the three key steps to branding yourself. The first step is figuring out the essence of who you are. The second step is realizing what you do best. The third step is communicating your unique brand.
Step 1 — Who are you?
This is the core essence of your brand – i.e. what makes you, YOU?
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
What do you stand for?
This is your whole personality, the whole enchilada. This is where being authentic comes into play. Just simply be yourself. If you are trying to be what others think you should be or how others think you should appear…it WON’T work.
Step 2 – What do you do best?
This is what makes your product or level of service get noticed. This is your P.O.D. (Point Of Differentiation). It is the combination of your experiences, talents, knowledge, lessons learned all translated into results. It is your uniqueness.
Step 3 – How do you communicate who you are and what you do best?
Communicating your brand can be accomplished in an unlimited amount of ways, which brings up three very important points to communicate your brand successfully:
- You must know who you are and what you do best, inside and out.
- You must be comfortable in the communication venue, whether that be networking, email, phone calls or something bigger like a trade show. At a trade show, communication and presentation come hand in hand; you can’t have a good presentation without good communication, while good communication counts for nothing if your presentation is not up to scratch. A good way to ensure good presentation at a trade show is through a good trade show display, which can make your brand stand out from the rest. If you are looking for a quality and reliable trade show display, you may want to check out a site like Exponents Houston trade show booth rental for more information
- You must never forget that you are always communicating your brand. (Even non-communication is communicating)
At a 2010 Power up!® Seminar in Phoenix, Bronston Jones, a 6’7” comedian shared his story about living his brand every day: “Life’s Short, I’m Not.” When he starts and finishes his comedy or seminar routine, he states: “Life’s Short, I’m Not.” During his routine, he continuously reinforces his brand by going beneath the surface to show the essence of his brand, which is: Don’t put limits on yourself, think BIG. Don’t get caught up in have to’s, should of’s and could of’s. His style of living, believing and talking continually communicate his brand. (Obviously, if he was 4’3” this “Life’s Short, I’m Not” bit wouldn’t work very well!)
Now that you understand what a brand is and the 3 steps to branding yourself you have what you need to get started branding yourself!
Kathy Bass, The Branding Lady®, is an entrepreneur, lifelong learner and Brand Identity Strategist who founded http://www.LadiesWhoBrand.com in 2010.
She loves to help other solopreneurs Power up!® by discovering, creating and communicating their unique brand value with simplified, understandable and actionable branding information. Her motto is: Start small, think BIG and always enjoy the journey!
Kathy is a skier, foodie, traveler, observer, author, speaker and VoiceAmerica™ radio host on the Business Channel who holds Marketing, Psychology and Graphic Design degrees. Everything she speaks about is from real, live, hands-on experience and experimentation as she strongly believes we must all lead by example and help each other by sharing personal expertise and experiences that can elevate others to their next level of success.
Meet Kathy here… http://www.LadiesWhoBrand.com or on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn