You are the product and your personal brand is at the center of your business especially if you are an entrepreneur, solopreneur or small business owner. Your personal brand can make or break your business. You are the hub of every interaction you have. And, you are also the product. What you do and say either adds values or detracts from your business relationships, client relationships and even your personal interactions.
Working with small businesses and entrepreneurs, I often take them through nine elements to their brand. Since your brand is intertwined with your business brand (be it service or product), review the following:
1. Product differentiation.Organizations that understand their competition and take a unique position among them do better than those that understand only their customers.
Personal Brand: What makes you different? Extract and discover this so that you can communicate that to the world.
2. Coordinated communications materials. Your brand name, logo, and slogan should all be consistent in carrying out the brand development mission.
Personal brand: Do all of your communication tools send the same message, give the same impression of your brand?
3. Positive positioning. Distinguish yourself by emphasizing your brand’s most specific, coveted benefits. A good way to improve a brand’s perception is to win awards from the Chamber of Commerce, trade associations, and other reputable sources.
Personal brand: Take notice – what are you doing now to make this happen? What are the coveted benefits of working with you? If this is a difficult question for you to answer, how difficult will it be for others?
4. Brand stewardship. Brands perform well if they are championed by a friendly and authoritative figure, such as the company CEO, a celebrity spokesperson, or a mascot.
Personal brand: Confidence attracts. What do you need to do to become more confident with yourself? What do you need to be a better version of you?
5. Positive associations. Strong brands usually represent a single positive benefit. An individual or company must decide which strong attribute to hang their hat on, then deliver a cohesive message with positive associations.
Personal brand: Who and what are you associating with?
6. Quality reinforcement. Consumers aren’t always able to distinguish the quality of one product compared to another. However, for an individual or company to develop their brand, they must make sure that it is seen as being high quality.
Personal brand: You must know what you have or do that makes you the best at what you do. It is your job to be able to compile that in bit-sized pieces; your job to connect the dots; your job to communicate succinctly what you do best.
7. Brand extensions. Several successful individuals and companies develop spinoff brand extensions that generate revenue streams from a related product or service.
Personal brand: What can you do to become more known and more connected? Associations with good companies, volunteer groups and even networking clubs provide a “halo” effect where your credibility is elevated because of the good reputation of the organization (i.e. Rotary Clubs). The key to success is to be sure that you sincerely believe and support the mission or vision of the organization.
8. Perceived value reinforcement. How the marketplace perceives the value of a product or service may dictate a brand’s image more than the product or service itself. Reinforcing the value of a product or service, as customers interpret it, is key.
Personal brand: Do you have a gratitude program (such as writing thank you notes) to reinforce someone’s connection with you?
9. Memorable slogan. Every integrated identity initiative must have a slogan.
Personal brand: What’s in your word garden?