Caterpillar: "Who... are... you?" Alice: "I- I hardly know, sir. I've changed so many times since this morning, you see..." "No, I do not 'C.' Explain yourself." "I'm afraid I can't explain myself sir, because I'm not myself, you know." "I do not know." "Well, I can't put it any more clearly, sir, for it isn't clear to me." "You? Who ARE you?"
Your personal brand
Branding yourself or your small business is all about learning, and then portraying, who you are and what you represent. Your brand is also, in many ways, synonymous with your - or your business's - reputation.
Before we can begin to have design discussions such as what feelings you evoke from different colors, or use of negative space in your logo, we need to discuss your brand's mission:
What do you want your audience to know and feel about YOU?
Maybe you have something unique that sets you apart. Or you want to highlight how your company contributes to making the world a better place. Or perhaps your first priority is to convey that you don't just care about the sale, you care about your clients. I mean, you're dedicated, reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable...who wouldn't want to work with you? Am I right?
Branding and marketing are so difficult because at their core, they're selling. You're just not selling a product or service...you're selling something even more important...which is your business, or yourself. That's why it needs to be honest, truthful, and genuine.
5 Questions to ask when branding yourself or your small business
1. What are my specialties and passions? In addition to consistently communicating your value and general qualities, is there a certain area you want to be perceived as an expert in? It's important to successfully and consistently convey this to your audience.
2. What is my brand's personality? You'll want to establish a consistent "voice." Writing as your professional self should be enough - you won't want to drift too far from who you are or your brand will come across as insincere. But all your marketing materials should have the same style and "tone." Remember, if you wouldn't "say it" that way, don't "write it" that way.
3. What other brands should I associate with? Essentially, this is networking. You can grow or strengthen your brand through associations with other well established brands. Is there an alumni newsletter you can contribute to? Do you have a blog, or company blog, you can post on? LinkedIn technically falls under the next question, but it also has an almost endless collections of groups to follow - so join in the discussion!
4. What is my social media strategy? Yes, social media is intimidating. Before you dive in and start tweeting, it's best to plan what type of information and media you want to share. What would your audience be interested in? Many larger corporations have attempted to take a more family-oriented approach. Would a similar approach work for your audience? It's important to determine how your social media strategy will fit in with your overall marketing plan.
5. Am I connecting with my audience in a personal way? Personal touches are becoming more and more important. Are your emails customized with the reciepients first name? Do you send thank you notes? Do you include small notes or tokens in your packaging?
Ready to start figuring out what your brand will actually look like? Download my free Branding Questionnaire - the same one I send to clients before starting a new project!
Here are a few examples of brands that I think do a really great job of connecting with customers and creating the feeling of a personalized experience.
What are you struggling with when it comes to developing your brand vision? Let me know in the comments below!