By Jon Michail
What do you really do when you “brand yourself”? The term may mean different things to different people, but there are a few basics most of us would agree on. Branding yourself means making yourself visible to your business community and beyond. It means looking for all the possible ways to communicate your personal values and the things you stand for, in the clearest way that you can.
As time goes by, the need to brand becomes so important that if you don’t do it for yourself, others will. Unfortunately, you mightn’t be pleased with the result. If you work at developing your own brand, you will have much more control over the way people think of you and your business.
1. Are you memorable? Do people think of you again the moment they step away from you or move on to the next “image”? What makes you the person you are? Are you an asset to your business and your community? Decide what your best three personality characteristics are, and that will tell you what to concentrate on as the personal part of your business identity.
2. Are you real or just a cog in the machine? These days people want to work with a live human being. They’re tired of answering machines, old business practices and a different person fronting the desk each time they try to get something done. Some businesses are simply too large and impersonal for their own good. If you are part of a small to medium size company do opposite to what many of the large corporations do, speak one-on-one with your clients.
3. Have you established a professional presence on social media? When people want to find someone, they Google the name. That includes potential clients as well as friends and old schoolmates. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are indispensable for establishing contact, so make sure it is your branded name that people find. You can position your business behind the brand – if you want your name to embody your business and its mission, and to be the front and centre of everything that your business does.
4. Do you have a domain name? You can purchase your full name as a domain name (yourfullname.com) and this will ensure that you show up as the first result for your name in Google or other searches. Add your professional photo, a bio, your email address, and links to the rest of your presence (your company’s website and your social media pages). Although search engines will find your social media pages, having your own domain name will produce an immediate result.
5. Do you keep up to date with social media? Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are all important ways to make contact with potential clients and to show your personal brand. Encourage your clients to write about their concerns and opinions on your pages and respond to them publicly. This is the best possible way to demonstrate the type of personal service your clients will receive from you.
6. Do you have the right balance between traditional service and innovation? Remember, we are all operating in a disruptive technological environment. If you let innovation pass you by, your client numbers will fade away. Equally, you can’t spend all your time chasing down bright ideas, or you will lose the reliability and energy your clients have come to expect. Offer great service, be creative and most important execute your innovations.
7. Is your company website up to date and personable? Add a little quirkiness and personal interest to your company website. List e-mail addresses and direct phone lines on your business contact page. You may choose to upload photos of employee’s faces – and your own! – and accompanying bios. Just take care about not putting anyone in the position of having to fend off unwanted attention from anyone with a more dubious interest. Follow all the usual guidelines about net safety. Keep your information, bios and business information up to date and compelling. The essence of a personal brand is demonstrated in the way you interact with clients and your team. Your brand becomes personable and open.
8. Do you and your business dominate your category or segment? Grow your company by finding an idea that fills a need in the marketplace. Then keep filling that need better than any of your competition. If you dominate the market and your product or service really is the best, then your competitors can only prove your superiority.
9. Have you established your credibility? Writing authoritative articles or books is a great way to establish credibility for your subject or product. This can be done through a publishing house or by self-publishing, in itself a growing industry. Old fashioned / Hard Cover Books have much more credibility than e-books and the gravitas that draws in further potential clients – or perhaps even investors – and will place you firmly in the “expert” niche.
10. Do you reinforce the image you want to project? It may at first seem rather light-weight after all the preceding advice, but names, logos, slogans, hairstyles, or clothing items can help your personal brand. Just think about the following, and see what comes to mind: Albert Einstein (hair, genius) Donald Trump (hair, “You’re fired!”) Lady Gaga (individuality, that meat dress) Richard Branson (cool, casual and rich) and so many more.
Branding yourself successfully will open doors for you, and create a lasting impression on potential and existing clients and stakeholders. When you highlight your uniqueness in a memorable way, people will think of you and what you do, particularly when they next need your product or service.
Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, an award winning author and recognised Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives, entrepreneurs and their organisations to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.
He has been a regular commentator in international media including ABC, CNN, NBC, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Success, The Financial Review and Vogue.