You Have A Brand.
Think of your mum, then the worst boss you’ve ever worked for – what words come to mind to describe them. Every time anybody thinks of you they also recall characteristics and associations. Whatever people recall when they think about you is your brand. In times past people understood businesses have brands, but the reality is we all have a brand. You can think of a brand as a marketing term for reputation.
To acknowledge you have a brand is the first step to managing it. The next step is to clarify and map out what you want your brand to be. When building your personal brand this is a personal process and it can be inspirational and rewarding. Aim to be true to your best self. You want to build yourself up and have this act as an aspiration goal. However, setting an expectation that is impossible for you to achieve will be counter-productive. So don’t think of yourself as a fictional super-you but do keep positive.
Marketing your brand becomes the next step, this is simply setting an expectation. You begin to make promises through your online presence, email signatures, how you introduce yourself, the car you drive, how clean your home or office is, and everywhere else someone interacts with you or whatever is representing you. This is where a logo, an image, or a brand was traditionally used. You can also use all of these, but you will inherently be using your face and your name. Not because you want to, but because people already know this about you. Remember branding is not so much about what you want but what people believe and do. The goal of this marketing is to make your image, your logo, both memorable, and have strong positive associations.
Companies spend millions of dollars on branding consultants, but the key is to have an image that is unique – luckily you are unique so you can tick that off the list. Some people have been known to adapt their names or to use a nickname, perhaps changing Jane Smith to Janey S. As you continue building the brand you want to be adding associations so that when someone sees ‘Janey S’ they automatically think ‘competent, trustworthy, likeable’ or whatever you have mapped out your brand to be.
Generally, you can’t just say “Janey S – I am competent”, but your marketing will need to demonstrate these traits. Many people are turning to storytelling, often hiring journalists to craft true stories about how they demonstrated marketable traits in helping customers. Storytelling is a powerful medium that should not be overlooked. Others look to create credibility and substance behind these claims. Using a book is a powerful way to create credibility. When people understand that you ‘wrote the book about the subject’ they automatically associate you with being a thought leader, having expertise, and being competent. Books also have the added benefit of bringing you press coverage through book reviews and the such, often creating speaking engagements, giving you a valued gift to give away, and sales.
A fantastic example of someone doing this well is, Dr. Dov Philips whose book ‘Wellness Words’ BookPrint produces (you can buy a copy from his website). Having his book profiled on his website adds credibility and substance to his claim that he can help people who have pain or are suffering. He then has made a promise on his website, backed it up with a strong credibility claim with his book – this earns him the opportunity to prove himself as people get in touch.
Empty promises are one of the most despised things in the world, so marketing won’t help you in the long run if you can’t make good on your promises. Good marketing and branding earn you an opportunity to show people you can follow through. Dr. Dov’s long term success is not really built on marketing but his ability to help people out of pain and suffering. Your brand is ultimately the ability or inability to follow-through.
Remember, you have a brand and a reputation. Nurture it by setting expectations that earn you the opportunity to prove yourself. Make sure you follow through and your reputation, your brand, will be worth more than gold.
Your brand is planted as a promise, and flourishes by action.