Business branding is essential for every business large or small, it is essential that a business define its image, principles and values. Your brand identity is what your clients will identify with and is what will help to set you apart from your competition.
Most business owners are familiar with the concept of business branding; but what often is overlooked is the importance of personal branding. Your personal brand is essentially how others perceive you. If you asked 10 people who know you to describe you, what adjectives would they use consistently? These descriptors are what make up your personal brand. Everyone has a personal brand, when you interact with someone they naturally develop perceptions about you as a person and they base their interactions with you based on those perceptions.
The act of personal branding is simply taking deliberate actions to define and project the image you want others to have of you. As a small business owner, it is important to effectively manage your personal brand. You are your business; people who choose to do business with your company are also choosing to do business with you as an individual. Your personal brand should be authentic but also needs to be consistent with the brand identity of your business. For example, if I was an accountant and my business brand is traditional, conservative, and one of trust, knowledge and respect and I was introduced to you at a networking event wearing a mini skirt, talking loudly, and gossiping about my clients your perception of my personal brand would not reflect the brand image I’m trying to sell for my company. This is what I’d call a BRAND FAIL!
So how do you build your personal brand?
1) Assess Current Perceptions: Start by learning how others perceive you. Select 8 to 12 people who know you well (it is a good idea to select both personal and professional contacts). Have them give you 3 – 5 words they feel strongly describe you as a person.
2) Define Your Desired Brandi Identity: Before reading the responses from step one write down ten adjectives that you WANT to be known by. Then jot down your objectives, your mission or purpose in life and what role would you like to play for your customers, family, and friends.
3) Write Your Brand Statement: Based on the exercise in step two write a summary of your personal brand. This statement should define your purpose/mission, the role you seek to play for your customers, and how you wish to be perceived.
4) Compare Present to Future: Now take a look at the responses from step one. Identify which keywords were most consistently used to describe you. Are these consistent with your brand statement? Look for any words you selected as a part of your brand identity, were these (or related words) on their list? Spend some time really evaluating how others see you compared to how you see yourself. If the two are consistent, you have already established your brand identity and you can keep doing what you are doing. If incongruence’s exist, move on to step 5.
5) Take Deliberate Action: With a little effort and time you can proactively change your brand image in an organic and authentic way. Evaluate the areas of inconsistency and think through ways in which you can manage that perception. If you seek to be known as knowledgeable take action to establish yourself as an expert in your field and be a resource to others. If you seek to be dependable seek opportunities of influence where you can demonstrate how reliable and consistent you can be.
Remember your personal brand is influenced by your entire being, what you look like, the way you speak and write, the way you carry yourself, how you interact with others etc. So as you work on your brand consider each of these aspects individually.
What business are you in? What is one thing you can change today that will help change or strengthen your personal brand?