Like it or not, you are a brand. If you’re not actively cultivating it or managing it, your clients, potential clients and community are doing the work for you and creating their own image of you and your company.
So, wake up, smell the coffee and get branding.
Where to start? Here are some quick tips on how to build your personal brand.
1. FIND YOUR CORE.
Like any brand, you need to define your values, goals, mission statement, tagline and brand identity. You need to peel back the layers and discover what you want to achieve in this world, why are you getting up every morning and what value can you generate in your life and in business. This is the toughest work.
If you haven’t spent the time digging deep to understand who you are and what motivates you, there are plenty of tools to help. Or, you might want to consider working with a business coach to guide you through this process. It helps to have a fresh perspective and someone asking the right questions and the tough questions.
Invest in this foundational work with your own time and perhaps even money.
2. WRITE IT DOWN.
Don’t just contemplate and discuss your purpose, values, brand identity and mission statement. Write it down – all of it. Or, draw it. Or create a visual board that explains it to you.
Make it real. And then print it out, hang it up and remind yourself of your values, your mantra, your goals. It’s easy to get distracted. Don’t let yourself. Focus.
Develop your elevator pitch (or as I like to call it – your chairlift pitch) to describe who you are, what you care about and how you can help the world. Think about how many opportunities you have every day to differentiate yourself. People always ask, “What do you do?” Are you seizing that opportunity? Or, just saying – “I’m a business owner” or “I’m a graphic designer” or “I’m a programmer” or “I’m a marketer” or “I’m a business coach?”
A friend who’s a business coach doesn’t just say blandly, “I’m a business coach.”. Nope. Instead, she says “I’m a lifestyle redesign coach. I work with women in high-pressure, high-powered roles who dread waking up on Monday mornings, who are overwhelmed and are at the brink of saying – I’m done.”
Doesn’t that paint a vivid picture? It made me think – yep. That was me. And I know about a dozen other people who fit the bill … or, more precisely, who fit her target audience. And I know more about her. What motivates her. What she seeks to achieve in this world.
Instead of saying, “I’m one of the founders of a coworking space, ELEVATE coSPACE, and the founder of my own PR and marketing agency.” I’ve been saying, “I connect people to each other and to their stories. I believe in collaboration and community, especially mountain town communities. That together, we can move mountains – and play in them. That’s why I started my own PR/marketing agency focused on the outdoors industry and why I helped to create a coworking space, ELEVATE, in the heart of the Colorado Rockies.”
3. TEST IT. AND ITERATE.
Now that you’ve done the hard, soul-searching work, start sharing your “beta” messaging with your clients, friends, business coach, potential clients and gauge their reactions. Did the messaging resonate with them? What made sense to them? What stuck out and didn’t feel right?
Research the messaging of your colleagues and competitors. Do you sound the same? Or, have you differentiated yourself enough?
Take all of the candid feedback (don’t be defensive!) and refine your messaging. Don’t be afraid to hone in on one or two key attributes. You can’t be all things to all people. Define what makes you, you and embrace it. Celebrate it. Share it.
4. SHARE IT with the world.
This is the fun part. You’ve done the hard work of identifying your values, your mission statement, your brand attributes and your messaging. Now, make sure the world knows about it and about you.
Update your website copy with your new messaging. Revise every profile, bio online and off. Change your LinkedIn, your twitter bio, your Facebook page, your bio for every association and organization. Think about how you can incorporate this brand into every touchpoint – your business cards, your introduction at every networking event. Sign up for new networking events. Shake hands and share your story.
Another tip – We live in a visual world. If you don’t have a profile photo that reflects your brand, get a new one. Stat. Your photo says a LOT about you. Hire a professional photographer or get a friend to snap a photo of you with the right background, wearing the right clothes and the right look (do you want to look serious and professional or is your personal brand welcoming and friendly?).
Congrats! You’re on your way to building a stronger personal brand that will lead to more clarity, more focus and eventually more happiness and more business.